Laws

New Scrum Laws

New scrum laws for schools and club rugby in SA 
 
New scrum Laws to make amateur rugby safer will come into effect at club and schools level as the season gets underway this month, following an initiative introduced by the South African Rugby Union (SARU). A new scrum engagement sequence has been devised for amateur rugby to minimise the risks of serious injury suffered in this facet of play.
 
“We identified the engagement sequence as an area that could be improved in our amateur game, mainly the hit when the two packs come together, as well as when scrums collapse,” said Jurie Roux, CEO of SARU.  
 
“That is why we decided to bring in certain Law amendments for the scrum in the amateur game, which could have an immediate safety impact on this aspect. The scientific literature strongly supports this being the way to go.” 
 
The new engagement sequence was developed after extensive research into the matter. Rugby experts such as former French prop and current Springbok scrum consultant Pieter de Villiers, former Springbok World Cup winning prop Balie Swart, SA U20 coach and former Springbok prop Dawie Theron and SARU General Manager: High Performance Rassie Erasmus were all involved. Meetings were also held with the French Rugby Federation, who also operate amateur scrum law modifications, and the IRB Scrum Research group in Bath, England, regarding their scrum biomechanics research.  
 
The South African modifications were approved by the SARU General Council in December.
 
From now on, scrum engagements at amateur level will be divided into three categories: 
 
1.       First category (Under-9 and younger): The scrum engagement will be passive engagement with no contest.  
 
2.       Second category (U11s to U16s, including provincial school age-group rugby): Engagement will also be passive, meaning there is no hit, but full scrum contest will be allowed until the scrum has moved 1.5 metres. 
 
3.       Third category (U18, including provincial school age-group rugby, to the second highest tier club rugby): Props will pre-bind with a reduced hit on engagement. At schools level, the 1.5m rule applies, but above that, the scrum will be fully contestable. 
 
At these levels, teams feeding the scrum will not concede possession if the scrum passes through 45 degrees (schools) or 90 degrees (adults). In this instance, the scrum will be reset, unless the wheel was intentional, where the referee will penalise the offending team. Binding post-engagement between the two front rows has to be such that the elbows are not lower than the shoulder line. 
 
The engagement call for these three categories will be “crouch, bind, scrum” and the distance between the packs pre-setting will be reduced to where the heads of the two front rows are aligned ear-to-ear and in the opposite channel. 
 
The regular “crouch, touch, set” sequence and IRB scrum laws will apply in all other rugby from the level of super league club rugby (the highest tier of club rugby in each province) and up, including provincial adult representative age-group rugby (U19 and U21) and all professional rugby.  
 
The modifications at amateur level have been introduced because studies have shown that more than a third (37%) of all serious and catastrophic head, neck and spine injuries in rugby, emanate from scrums. Most of these injuries in South Africa occur in amateur rugby, where technical ability, strength, fitness and conditioning levels are not as advanced as in the professional game. 
 
Evidence has shown that targeted interventions on scrum-related injuries are effective in reducing spinal cord injuries.  
 
Roux said: “There are relatively few of these kinds of injuries in the game when taking into account the number of hours spent playing rugby on any given day in SA. Nonetheless, by reducing the impact on engagement, and limiting the risk of scrum collapse with these Law modifications, this should considerably lower the risk of sustaining such an injury in the scrums.  
 
“We also believe that, in the long-term, these modifications should also lead to stronger scrummagers, who are technically more efficient at contesting and scrumming for the ball, while keeping these players safer during this part of the game.
 
Dawie Theron, said that scrum safety is paramount for everyone involved in the game: “I am of the opinion that the scrum engagement modifications will have positive consequences, in that it will make the scrum safer, there will be fewer scrum collapses and fewer penalties in the scrum, it will be easier for the referees to manage and control scrums and the ball will be in play for longer, as a result of less penalties and less resets.” 
 
Andre Watson, SARU General Manager: Referees, said the new engagement sequence that will be used at amateur level, will also lead to better consistency in decision-making by referees.  
 
“The gradual progression towards a full scale ‘hit’ at engagement at elite level is logical and should equip front row players better,” said Watson. “The emphasis will revert back to scrumming after the ball is fed in as opposed to ‘hitting’ in on the opponent.” 
 

SA law changes in 2013

André Watson, the SARU manager in charge of refereeing in South Africa, has issued a summary of law changes applicable in South Africa in 2013, that is to senior rugby.

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 1. Players nominated as substitute

Law 3.4:  23 players allowed in international matches (test matches only)

2. Players clothing

Law 4:  The use of GPS equipment will continue.

Law 4.2 Special Additional items of clothing for Female players may wear cotton blend long tights under their shorts.

Studs

Law 4.3: The stud in front of a boot is allowed as long as it complies to Regulation 12 of the IRB. The regulation ;lays down that studs must not be longer than 21 mm, and must not have any burring or sharp edges. The single stud at the front of the boot was banned in the 1980s.

3. Referee consulting others

Law 6.A.6 (b): The TMO trial as played in Currie Cup last year to be played in 2013.

4. Taking a conversion kick

Law 9.B.1: The kick must be taken within one minute and 30 seconds (90 seconds in total) of a try being scored, even if the ball rolls over and is placed again. (Referees are to be vigilant with opposition players delaying the ball by throwing it into touch or similar)

5. Outcome of a knock-on or throw forward

Law 12.1 : Knock-on or throw forward into to touch. When the ball goes into touch from a knock-on or throw forward,the non-offending team will be offered the choice of a line-out at the point the ball crossed the touch line, or a scrum at the place of the knock-on or throw forward. The non-offending team may exercise this option by taking a quick throw-in. This may suit a team struggling in the scrum.

6.  Unsuccessful end to a ruck

Law 16.7: When the ball is available to be played in a ruck the referee will call “use it”. The team then has five seconds to clear/use it or risk conceding a scrum to the opposition. The time is taken from the referee's call.

6. Quick throw-in

For a quick throw-in, the player may be anywhere outside the field of play between the line of touch (the place where the assistant referee/touch judges indicates as the place of the line-out) and the player’s goal-line.

7. Forming a scrum

Law 20.1 (g): The referee will call “crouch”, then “touch”. The props touch as before and withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set”.

8. Penalty and Free Kick options

Law 21.4: line-out Alternative. A team awarded a penalty or a free kick at a line-out may choose a further line-out, they throw-in. This is in addition to the scrum option.


 

New Scrum Laws for Age Rugby

SCRUM LAW MODIFICATIONS FOR AMATEUR RUGBY PLAYED WITHIN SOUTH AFRICA
 
DIVISION: AMATEUR JUNIOR

LONG TERM PLAYER DEVELOPMENT PATHWAY: TRAINING TO TRAIN

U/14 to U/16 age groups

FORMAT:

   Normal Rugby Laws with Scrum Law modifications

o Full scrum formation

o Passive engagement or fold over, with pre scrum binding

o Scrum calls:

  Crouch (align ear to ear, and get into spine in line and parallel position),

  Bind (come together and bind up, bar up and prepare),

  Scrum (ball in and contest begins)

o Calling "Scrum" is in line with the Law, which indicates the start of play in

the scrum when the ball is put in

o No hit allowed during engagement

o Full scrumming contest at put?in

o One and a half (1½) meter push allowed, thereafter no more contest

o Enforce Law 20.2 Front Row Player Positions

  ALL front row players must have both feet on the ground, with their

body weight supported firmly on at least one foot and be able to

maintain their own balance, at all times during the scrum

  This will limit the risk of scrum collapse

 

 

Bench

RB clears up use of the bench


Following the confusion about the use of substitutes/replacements in the Pretoria Test when South Africa played Australia, the IRB has clarified the relevant law and issued a protocol for those in charge of the coming and going of players during a 

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12 Oct 2012Selected Article image

The problem in Pretoria revolved around the number of substitutes/replacements of front row players that resulted in the Australians' the end part of the match with just 14 players after Tatafu Polota-Nau was injured and the scrums then became uncontested, which is unsatisfying.

We shall deal with the Law first and then, separately, the protocol. Note that the substution of a player is tactical;, replacement is for injury. It is a pity that this was not available earlier.

Law 3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH
(a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and in that match, even to replace an injured player.
Exception 1: a substituted player may replace a player with an open or bleeding wound.
Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play and the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions.

The IRB's comment:

Law 3.12 (a) Exception 2:

With the exception in Law 3.12 (a) regarding front row players:

1. How many replacements/substitutions are allowed in the front row?

2. How many replacements/substitutions in total allowed in a match?

Scenario 1: 22 Players in a team

When 22 players are nominated in the team, with five (5) players nominated as suitably trained and experienced front row players, the team may tactically substitute two (2) players in the front row.

During a match the team must be able, on the first  an injury to a prop or a hooker occur in the match, to replace the injured front row player with a suitably trained and experienced front row player in order to continue with contested scrums in the match.

The two (2) substituted front row players may replace any front row player when injured provided the replacement front row player is suitably trained for that specific front row position. (Tight Head, Loose Head or Hooker)

In a match the total number of substitutes and replacements in the front row allowed as per above is four (4).

If a team has used all its permitted substitutions/replacements and the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the injury, temporarily suspension or sent off a replacement is not allowed.

Up to five (5) other players may be substituted in the match.

The total number of substitutes/replacements allowed in the match as per above can thus be up to nine (9).

Scenario 2: 22/23 Players in a team

When 22 or 23 players are nominated in the team, with six (6) players nominated as suitably trained and experienced front row players, the team may tactically substitute up to three (3) players in the front row.

During a match the team must be able, on the first occasion an injury to Loose Head prop, Tight Head prop or Hooker occur in the match, to replace the injured front row player with a suitably trained and experienced front row player in order to be able to continue with contested scrums.

The three (3) substituted front row players may replace any front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off provided the replacement player is suitably trained and experienced for that specific front row position. (Tight Head, Loose Head or Hooker)

The total number of substitutes and replacements in the front row allowed as per above is six (6).

If a team has used all its permitted substitutions/replacements and the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the injury, temporarily suspension or sent off a replacement is not allowed.

Up to five (5) other players may be substituted in the match.

The total number of substitutes/replacement allowed in the match as per above can thus be up to eleven (11).
 

 

Replacement Law

There were Australians who cried foul when the referee refused to allow a substitute for the injured Wallaby hooker Tatafu Polota Nau and then would not allow Polota Nau to play on, reducing the Wallabies to 14 players and the scrums to sad uncontesteds.

The referee would claim he was merely applying the law, as he is required to do in all circumstances.

So we need to look at the law. The use of replacements and substitutions is of relatively recent origin. Till 1968 replacements were not allowed at any level of rugby. If you had an injury you played with 14 men. This had the dangerous effect of players' playing on when they should not have and thus exacerbating the injury. Australia and New Zealand were the proponents of replacement of injured players. It took them 16 years to get the IRB to allow the replacement of injured players and then only in  international matches andeven  then the Scots dissented. At that time two injury replacements were allowed.

The injury had to be certified by a doctor, which also led to malpractices. A doctor authorised to verify that a players was injured would hand out signed forms to the teams before the match. A signed form had to be taken to the referee before the replacement was allowed on. This all gradually became more accommodating and in 1996 tactical substitutions were introduced, thus reducing the amount of humbug there was involved. There are still laws governing replacement/substitution and limitations on the numbers allowed. They are still manipulated.

The law!

Law 3 DEFINITIONS
A Team. A team consists of fifteen players who start the match plus any authorised replacements and/or substitutes.
Replacement. A player who replaces an injured team-mate.
Substitute. A player who replaces a team-mate for tactical reasons.

The law makes a distinction between a replacement (for injury) and a substitution (for tactical reasons). This is not applied consistently throughout the law. The two terms tend to be used interchangeably.

Law 3.4 PLAYERS NOMINATED AS SUBSTITUTES
For international matches a Union may nominate up to seven replacements/substitutes.
A team can substitute up to two front row players (subject to Law 3.14 when it may be three) and up to five other players. Substitutions may be made only when the ball is dead and with the permission of the referee.

This bit of law is at the heart of the matter.

The Wallabies had seven replacements/substitutes: Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Liam Gill, Brett Sheehan, Mike Harris, Anthony Fainga'a. Of those Saia Fainga'a (a hooker) and James Slipper (a prop) were front-row trained.

The Wallabies were allowed to substitute two front-row players, apparently. In the 31st minute of the first half James Slipper took the place of Benn Robinson. It was a tactical substitution. In the 27th minute of the second half Robinson came back to replace Ben Alexander. This was a replacement for an injury.

That meant that with 13 minutes to play the Wallabies had taken off two front row players and put others in their place. Replacement or substitution?

Then on 71 minutes Polota Nau was declared injured and unfit to carry on playing. The Wallabies then wanted to bring on Saia Faingaa. Saia Faingaa was suitably trained as a hooker to replace Polota Nau, a hooker. Faingaa was stopped because 'you've used up your subs'. The referee stopped that on the grounds that they had already made seven substitutions - Anthony Faingaa for Berrick Barnes, Slipper for Robinson, Mike Harris for Adam Ashley-Cooper, Rob Simmons for Kane, Liam Gill for Radike Samo and Brett Sheehan for Digby Ioane. That adds up to seven. Of the seven taken off, Barnes, Ashley-Cooper, Samo, Ioane and Alexander were injured. They were replaced. Robinson and Simmons were substituted.

Used up all your subs. But what about your replacements. Or are the two really one despite the distinction the laws seek to make?

Law 3.4 speaks of substitutes. It does not speak of replacements. Loose law or a point the law-makers wish to make? If it is not loose law, then the Wallabies used only two substitutes.

So Faingaa was blocked but Polota Nau wanted to come back. He, too, was stopped.

Law 3.9 THE REFEREE’S POWER TO STOP AN INJURED PLAYER FROM CONTINUING
If the referee decides – with or without the advice of a doctor or other medically qualified person – that a player is so injured that the player should stop playing, the referee may order that player to leave the playing area. The referee may also order an injured player to leave the field in order to be medically examined.

Polota Nau had been declared injured by a 'medically qualified person'. He could not then in an instant become uninjured and carry on playing. The referee was right to stop him from playing on.

That left the Wallabies on the field with only two front-row trained players - Slipper and Robinson, hence the need for uncontested scrums, of which there were two.

Somewhere there is a screw loose. In French rugby they are allowed eight substitutes/replacements, three of whom are front-row trained. They introduced this to reduce the number of uncontested scrums, and it has worked. They then are allowed three front row replacements. That means that there is nothing sacred about the number 2.

Law 3.5 (d) The replacement of a front row forward must come from suitably trained and experienced players who started the match or from the nominated replacements.

Those who started the match were Robinson, Polota Nau and Alexander. The nominated replacements were Slipper and Saia Faingaa. But Faingaa was not allowed to play.

There does not seem to be a wealth of commonsense in this. There does not seem to be a wealth of commonsense in this. For one thing is appears to contradict its own law.

Law 3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH
(a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play and the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions.

For one thing is appears to contradict its own law.

Law 3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH
(a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play and the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions
.

After all the replacement of players is intended to protect players and also to protect the game from uncontested scrums.  Substitution, one supposes is intended to enhance the game.

The whole problem may in fact have been coach-created as it has become common practice to manipulate the laws by rotating (possibly unfit) props, which may well have happened in this case.

It could surely be easily put right by making the law clear on replacements and substitutes and how those in each category are allowed to take part in the game.

 
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