No more 'Yes, Nine'
The IRB has introduced, with immediate effect, a change to its scrumming procedure, eliminating the referee's verbal 'Yes, Nine' call.
The International Rugby Board has introduced, with immediate effect, a change to its scrumming procedure, eliminating the referee's verbal 'Yes, Nine' call but retaining the referee's control of when the ball is fed into the scrum.
It is a slight change - more how than what. The 'Yes, Nine' call has been seen as a call to action for the team not putting in the ball. Now the referee will find another means, communicated to the teams before the match, of telling the scrumhalf when to put the ball in - dropping or lifting a hand, thumb up, giving a nod to or touching the scrumhalf - that sort of thing.
The statement sent by Joël Jutge, the IRB's refereeing boss, reads: "Up to now, the referee has been asked to tell the scrumhalf that the scrum is ready for the put-in by the use of the phrase “yes nine”. But following an initial review, including consultation with national coaches and referee managers, it has been decided that referees will adopt a non-verbal communication to scrumhalves for the introduction of the ball. This is in accordance with the relevant law [20.5 Throwing the Ball Into the Scrum].
"The change is effective immediately and will include this week’s Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup matches in the northern hemisphere (January 9-12). It will also include the next rounds of other elite competitions, including the Top 14 in France [January 24], Premiership in England [February 7-9] and the Pro12 in other parts of Europe [February 7-9].
"As with the original protocol, it is up to individual Unions to decide whether this change will be adopted at levels below Elite Rugby."
The IRB is reluctant to do away with referee control altoegtehr as that could revert to early pushing which it seeks to avoid so that scrums are stable and stationary befopre the ball is put in.
Law 20.1 (j) Stationary and parallel. Until the ball leaves the scrum half’s hands, the scrum must be stationary and the middle line must be parallel to the goal-lines. A team must not shove the scrum away from the mark before the ball is thrown in.
Sanction: Free Kick
Referee control of the put-in seeks to ansure that this law is complied with.
Law 20.5 THROWING THE BALL INTO THE SCRUM
No Delay. As soon as the front rows have come together, the scrumhalf must throw in the ball without delay. The scrum half must throw in the ball when told to do so by the referee. The scrumhalf must throw in the ball from the side of the scrum first chosen.
Sanction: Free Kick
Al that has changed now is how the referee tells the scrumhalf when to put the ball in.
The hope that it makes for better scrumming and eliminates a reason to freekick teams.
By Paul Dobson