Thursday, June 15, 2006

Why does rugby league bother with scrums any more?

The following is an email I recently sent to the Footy Show and Sunday Footy Show on channel 9. I tried locating a feedback or question page on the website, to no avail, so these were the only other options of any expertise.

Hello panel

I have a question regarding the modern scrum feed.

In years past, the scrum feed went up the centre, with the hooking role called into play to contest the ball in the centre of the scrum. The feed was to go down the centre of the two packs once down. It was a genuine contest of strength and hooking skill.

Now, we see feeds travelling into the scrum between the legs of the prop closest to the halfback. This gives any opposing hooker no chance to contest any ball. Often we see the far side prop or even hooker with his head out of the scrum if it packs too quickly, without penalty or recall by the referee to repack the scrum. The ball path is very predictable, which enables the halfback to quickly step to the second row and retrieve the ball from under the lock/second row line.

Even from the shape of the scrums it is easy to tell that the packs are applying little force to try to push the other pack off the mark. This can be seen as compared to rugby union scrums that are generally very low and horizontal in their shape, indicating the force of the packs opposing. Rugby league scrums are now very upright and often degenerate into a loose group of people instead of a pack. Although many rugby union scrums appear to be fed in much the same manner these days, losing the element of a contest.

Is there any movement back to a genuine contest at the scrum? Forward sizes are sufficient to maintain a scrum push, and many of them are much more mobile than their predecessors. A hooker would therefore return to his originally named role, and the idea of an each-way bet on a scrum win bought back into play.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


(the Great White Hype)

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