Kirwan calls for scrum overhaul

Tue, 25 Mar 2014 09:07
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Blues coach John Kirwan believes he has the solution to rugby's scrum problems and wants changes to be made immediately.

Blues coach Sir John Kirwan believes he has the solution to rugby's scrum problems and wants changes to be made immediately.
The 63-cap former All Blacks wing wants changes to occur to the scrum law in the middle of the season, in order to solve the issues and thinks that the IRB and SANZAR should work together to ensure the decisions are made.
"I know what needs to happen, it's pretty easy," Kirwan told Fairfax NZ News
"Above us they need to make a decision and let the [scrumhalf] put the ball in without the call from the ref. 
"It's as simple as that, clean the game up and we'd be fine.
"I think the IRB and SANZAR need to make that decision, and I'm sure [Highlanders head coach] Jamie [Joseph] and I would be quite happy to trial it this week if they want. 
"Something needs to be done and that's it," Kirwan added. 
The scrum continues to cause debate around the number of resets that take place and the quality of ball for the side which has the put it - because of the inconsistencies around the scrum feed. 
This is despite the law change that has been introduced this season which sees referees giving the scrumhalf a non-verbal instruction to feed the ball into the scrum, instead of telling them to do so out loud so both forward packs could hear as was the case last season, which some quarters have argued gave an advantage to the team not putting the ball in.
However, in the opinion of Kirwan, this adjustment has not adressed the problem sufficiently, as the difficulties at scrum time still linger.
Kirwan feels that the problems at the scrum are causing referees to focus too much on that set piece which causes them to make mistakes in other facets of the game.
This comes in the wake of Lyndon Bray, SANZAR Game Manager, making changes to the referees' roster for the next two weeks of Super Rugby.
Lourens van der Merwe, Angus Gardner and Francisco Pastrana have all been replaced for their games following substandard performances.
"I know referees are probably the focus this week, and a few guys have been dropped," said Kirwan. 
"That's a consequence of what's happening because they have been concerned so much on what's happening at the scrum instead of the full game.
"If you just let the scrumhalves call them, a lot of the problems will be resolved, then the referee can stand back and have a look at the two or three things he needs to control.
"At the moment the referee is up so close to a scrum [that his] vision is difficult. 
"The solution is simple - we just need to have the courage to change mid-season.
Kirwan is not interested in taking any emphasis away from the scrums though. 
"Our game is great because we've got the giraffes, we've got the front-rowers, and we've got the halfbacks. 
"The scrum is a great part of this game, but we just need to let the advantage go to the team that's putting it in. Then if you're good enough, push us off it when we've put the ball in.
"That's the little advantage you have knowing when the ball going in, but you've still got a couple of tons of angry men trying to push each other off the ball, so leave it as a fair contest.
"It's not just our problem, it's the game's problem at the moment. 
"If we can try that simple thing it will clean everything up," Kirwan added. 
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