Scrum analysis: the England vs Wales cheatfest
Analysis

Scrum analysis: the England vs Wales cheatfest

Scrum analysis: the England vs Wales cheatfest

Gather round ye good rugby folk and feast on this scrum analysis from the land of the White Orc. It tells an age old tale of brains over brawn, of experience over youth, of Pommy and Welsh front rows cheating their pasty arses off.

In the highly pressured world cup match between England and Wales on the weekend, the difference between agony and ecstasy came down to one penalty goal.  In the first half, three scrum penalties resulted in 9 precious points – six for England and three for Wales.

French referee Jerome Garces and his refereeing team’s  interpretation of them therefore played an important role in the match. With his countryman Romain Poite officiating the mega fixture between England and Australia this weekend, understanding what actually happened in those scrums is critical.

SCRUM 1 – COLE HAS NONE OF IT

The first scrum happens five minutes into the match. Wales has the feed on the England 22 and even before the ball is close to being fed, IT’S ON.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis first scrum

On ‘set’, you can see Dan Cole the England tight-head is slightly over extended  – his thighs and back not being at 90 degrees – but his bind on Welsh loose-head Gethin Jenkins is about OK, it’s on the armpit (blue circle).

Jenkins is in a strong position; low, flat, thighs at 90 degrees to his back and importantly his left leg out and knee cocked, ready to fire (yellow circle).

England vs Wales Scrum analysis first scrum

A split second later, Jenkins pulls the trigger driving his left leg straight and in (yellow circle), looking to get across and under the England tight head (we’ll see in the scrums to follow why this is so important).

Cole, with 134 caps for Leicester and 54 caps for England is having none of it; rather than letting Jenkins get under him, he rolls down and in, dropping his bind onto the Welsh prop’s arm and pulling it down (blue circle).

The scrum goes to ground and it’s a penalty to England. What the stills don’t show well is the sequencing; Jenkins’ leg drive happens before Cole rolls in. If there was an over head shot of this you would see Jenkins suddenly angle in, followed by Cole.

Well done touchy on the call. England get out of their half.

SCRUM 2 – MARLER WELCOMES FRANCIS

The next scrum is 10 minutes into the match, and comes from a crooked Welsh lineout throw just within their half.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis first scrum

In the image above I’ve highlighted the back alignment of young Wales tight-head, Tomas Francis, who at 23 is earning just his 5th international cap. Note that while Francis’ hips in his white shorts are relatively square to the scrum, his spine is already being angled in by his opposite number, even before the ball is fed to the scrum.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis first scrum

Upon the feed, England loose head Joe Marler – with 121 caps for Harlequins and 35 caps for England – goes to work angling in and under Francis, popping the welshman’s shoulder up into the air and rendering him useless as the anchor to the Wales scrum.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis first scrum

With the Welsh scrum destabilised, England put phase two into play; turning their hips and walking their side of the scrum around and through their tight head Coles. Just look at the direction of the English feet relative to their bodies (sideways) versus the Welsh (straight). The Welsh front row is being sheared across to their left, they have no way of stopping it. Indeed the Welsh back five’s drive only makes the situation worse.

Referee Garces blows a penalty for Wales ‘pulling back’ and Farrell does the rest with his metronomic boot – 3 points.

Note though, that the centre of the scrum hasn’t actually moved toward either try line –  the Wales second row has their feet in the same longitude of the field that they were in when the scrum was set.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis first scrum

What the England pack has created is the illusion of dominance. French ref Garces clearly isn’t looking at packing angles (he’s also on the wrong side of the scrum) or direction of their drive. He just sees the England pack in front of him one second…England vs Wales Scrum analysis first scrum

….and going past him the next. French refs are well known for adjudicating scrums on this basis – it makes everything plus facile!

England scrum doctor Graham Rowntree also has form for this – as scrum coach for the Lions in 2013. G&GR’s own video analyst (who worked with the England team at the time) Nick Bishop wrote an excellent article about this tactic here, with video. In it he looks at how the Lions used exactly this stunt to get Ben Alexander yellow carded by  – guess who – next weekend’s referee Romain Poite. Worth a read.

SCRUM 3 – RINSE AND REPEAT

If it worked once, why not twice?  In the next scrum at 22 minutes England is midfield on the Wales 22 metre line. Is this the perfect place for a split field set piece backs move?

England vs Wales Scrum analysis third scrum

Is it f*ck. Getting even bolder, Marler doesn’t even bother setting up straight.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis third scrum

Upon the scrum feed Marler and Robshaw ram Francis into a dark, unhappy place and suddenly the weight of the scrum is all coming Jenkins way.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis third scrumThe scrum spins first to England’s right and then back through the left. The Welsh back row have no idea where they are and peel off. Garces once again sees a Welsh scrum destruction and penalises accordingly.

Farrell steps up and it’s 9-6.

SCRUM 4 – JENKINS HAS HAD ENOUGH

Welsh loose-head Gethin Jenkins decides enough is enough and at the next scrum on the 32nd minute he ends it before the poms do.

England vs Wales Scrum analysis fourth scrum

Jenkins has set his left leg out wide. (You can also see Francis’ back already starting to bend and twist under Marler’s attention on the far side).England vs Wales Scrum analysis fourth scrumUpon the feed, Jenkins  leverages off his left foot and chucks a right turn at warp speed. Cole has no choice but to also go in and down, not even having time or the need to shift his bind. This time though the refereeing team get it wrong and penalise Cole for dropping the scrum, rather than Jenkins for his unnatural acts.

A great result for Jenkins who was no doubt anticipating another shmozzle over the other side of the scrum; rather than concede a penalty, they’ve won one.

EPILOGUE

The moral to this dirty dark tale is simple – cheating will get you a penalty in three out of four scrums with French refs! Note also the decision making involved; these teams will trade prime try scoring field positions for the chance of a scrum penalty.

Scrum forecast for this weekend and next: messier than a Double Bay divorce.

  • southern macro

    yes…. but how does a smart team neutralize that ?

    • Piggy

      Bugger neutralising it, get in first and get the ascendency. Moore is having enough issues hooking, let’s not have to worry about getting to that stage.

      There is no magical Professor to teach Defense against the Dark Arts, but Ledesma surely can teach the Dark Arts.

    • K.F.T.D

      In my time playing tighthead if the loosie opposite wanted to angle in, after that one scrum, my answer was to loosen my grip on the hooker and angle out on the hit and try to split him off, otherwise he would do it all day because it works.
      England has been employing this tactic for a while going back to 2013 with Vunipolu and now Marler. They don’t do it every scrum but usually on the attack in our 25, their no 7 also keeps packing straight which gives the appearance that everything is normal.
      Unless the ref can pick up on this illegal binding, we will be in trouble.

      • Patrick

        When Wales toured in the early 80s we found a solution, but that was before yellow cards :)

        • Xaviera

          The 1978 Steve Finnane special? Extremely effective, and Wales paid the Price. 2-1 to Australia. Fantastic series.

        • Patrick

          Yep that’s the one! would love to see it get a run out against Marler (ok I wouldn’t in today’s game but in theory!)

        • Xaviera

          Would solve a lot of problems wouldn’t it? Ah, the good ol’ days…. However, worth noting that by sending the boyo back to the coal mines with his arse (and his remaining teeth) on a plate, Australian rugby sent a very strong message to the rest of the rugby world, and that was really the start of the modern renaissance – we started a run of Bledisloe wins, Campo appeared, and we saw some of the talent from the 77-78 Schoolboys tour filter through to the top level. So much talent there we let a couple who couldn’t quite cut it head over to league, where they did OK (shout out to Wally Lewis).

        • Parker

          Yes! I was there to see that beautiful bit of justice. Price’s head popped right out of the scrum and he left the country with his jaw in a sling. It would be great to see Marler pay for his repeated transgressions with a visit from the Phantom Puncher. I am so sick of seeing England get away with foul play, even more than I am of seeing Ruchie don his invisibility cloak.

      • VietGwent

        England have been controversially doing it for longer than that. Since Rowntree became forwards coach. Springboks were furious about it after their November 2012 Test at Twickenham.

    • Simon

      In the Super season, this happened a few times to the Reds scrum, and Greg Holmes had such strength and technique that he just did not budge. The opposition was trying to bore in and wheel and the Reds scrum just stood like a rock and then, because the opposition weren’t straight, the Reds just gave a big shove and pushed them backwards.

      Hopefully the other props have been playing the part of Marler in scrum training and giving Holmes and Kepu some practice at it, because Marler is going to be a much sterner test than your average Super loosehead. I’m sure Ledesma is onto it, if there’s a way to neutralise it the Wallabies will be doing their best.

      • Patrick

        that’s exactly it, Fiji showed that if Marler can’t push Holmes in, the Aussie scrum has a great chance to shatter the English scrum because Marler has to sacrifice his own body position to angle in.

        If Holmes can resist for 15 seconds, Marler’s arse will be pointing towards the touchline and a solid push will see us go straight through the middle of the scrum. Thank God Skelton isn’t part of the scrum!

        Even better, if WE do a little shuffle away from Marler, he’ll pretty much fall out of the scrum completely, but a risk of conceding the penalty there.

        The bright side with Poite is that if we do that three times in a row Marler will not just be pointing towards the touchline but sitting behind it. The downside is that England know that too, and so are probably not going to do it three times in a row.

  • Pfitzy

    Setup on the first scrum is Francis trying to attack Youngs – note that Gethin is also pointing inwards slightly. They want to have a go at the English ball – hooker’s arse cannot be seen, he’s pointing toward Youngs as well I just noticed, and the TH lock is well advanced.

    In any case, truth it up on the forums as per my post here http://www.greenandgoldrugby.com/community/posts/792440/

  • Pedro

    Great article.

    • Moose

      Yes, more please!

    • Dr Prinsworthy

      Totally agree – I think it’s important not to underestimate just how good this piece is, especially given you won’t find analysis of this quality anywhere else. Great work GAGR, keep it up.

  • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

    I’ve noticed that some scrums prefer the ball in quick and out the back quick, and before you know it the backs are weaving their magic. Whereas other scrums appear to prefer the ‘arm wrestle’ style of doing things. I’m guessing the quick version is because the hooker gets a clean strike. Does that sound about right?

    • Simon

      The quick version is because the team wants it out quickly. Either because they want to unleash the backs or because they’re under pressure on their feed and want to clear before they’re either penalised or lose possession.

      The long version is either accidental, because the hooker is having trouble hooking the ball, or deliberate, because the team are trying to either win a penalty or win ground. So it depends who has scrum dominance.

      • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

        That makes sense. Thanks.
        I’ll be extremely interested to see how the Wallaby scrum fares against the Poms scrum. Nothing would please me more than to shut up some of those loud mouthed English supporters and Rugby writers.
        Here’s hoping for a fair contest.

  • DrewB

    And what frustrates me about it, is shown perfectly in scrum 2. The Welsh TH is in a weak position early. England could, if they are as powerful as they think they are, get dominance legally. But no, their objective is to turn the vehicle for restarting a game after a minor infringement, into a points generator.

  • Guest12

    Surely all this going on at the scrum is just the ‘Dark Arts’ of the front row? In the same way that most of the dodgy stuff McCaw gets up to is the ‘Dark Arts’ of the back row? The best just don’t get caught.

  • David L Preece

    You can have all the Match anaylist after the match !! The truth is we The English fuuk’ed up throwing the Game away after halftime, lead !!
    I purposely did not go to the game, as I have been @ Twickers 2 many times over the last 10 years to see the Welsh take the Game away from our Squad. 6 Nations etc.
    So I staye’d away so as not to Jinx the Outcome, that’s the only Consollation I have, But am in Mourning Now !! Until The Aussi Match on Saturday, now we have to deliver, no more Excuses !!

  • Intruder

    What pictures 2 and 3 tell you is the difference of the scrum. A lot of focus is on the angles of the props etc and that is a factor, but in pictures 2 and 3 it actually indicates that the English Hooker has clear ascendancy over the Welsh hooker winning two battles of the scrum being the height of the scrum and the angle of shoulders.
    The ideal position for the hooker is to be the lowest point of the scrum at the same time being square but giving more pressure to his Tight-Head rather than Loose-Head.

    Picture 2: (Blue Angle Line)
    Shows on engagement. Welsh hooker loses his hip connection with his Tight-Head. That’s the first battle won. Marler is actually then very square.
    It then further goes to show that the hooker loses his left shoulder battle with England Prop Coles (which is the key to the win).
    Now because both props on the further side are angles in. They actually are working against each of their respective packs. The difference is that the English hooker is giving weight to his THP. Who has already won the shoulder battle and height battle against his opposite number. That is a correct call!

    • Intruder

      England now know the target and decide to attack a different way. Although illegal is a very easy way to win a penalty with ascendancy. Now up to keep you up to date there is a saying now that referees abide by which is, ‘Earn The Turn’ meaning as long as you show clear ascendancy going square, you can then turn or angle the scrum.

      Picture 3:
      On engagement Marler is on a slight angle and yes that is legal. However can you see the hookers hips? It effectively looks like he has lost the height battle (chest seems to be upright).
      Pressure is being built directly on him. Marler is boring in but the Welsh THP is doing just as much. However the person taking the step forward is the English hooker who is square. Coles has pressure on Jenkins but as the scrum goes forward puts pressure of the Welsh hookers left side which then shows the hooker popping up (bailing out).
      Correct Call again!

  • Xaviera

    Double Bay divorces are SO much simpler – you always know the loose head causes the problem.

    • Fatflanker

      Surely its the hooker?

      • Xaviera

        The loose head usually ends up in the wrong slot. Sometimes it involves the hooker, sometimes not….

  • Xaviera

    A very simple starting point is white 7 – his illegal bind should set off a number of alarm bells – ping him early for not binding properly on his lock. It also means when he DOES bind legitimately, his prop lacks the necessary support, and therefore increases the risk of a collapse at his own hand if his shape is wrong.

    What this all tells us is just how bloody difficult it is to officiate these black arts, even with the “Team of Three” match officials having full comms. As noted, and not yet having watched the match, the stills above no doubt don’t do the whole sequence justice.

    Good piece though – well worth the elbow grease. No doubt plenty more chat in a few days time.

  • Vinz

    > cheating will get you a penalty in three out of four scrums with French refs!

    What a generalization! How is Garcès scrum refereeing the same as every other French ref? And you generalize with 4 scrums? Did a Frenchman steal your fries in elementary school?

    • Stray Gator

      Oui

    • mawsley6

      It was Poite who pointed out the first penalty to the ref, he has form with Gethin. There are no pictures of the scrum leading to the Welsh try where Samson Lee is similarly illegally bored by the England loose-head, fortunately Garces let it go and the rest is history

    • lazybones14

      Garces and Poite are the only two French Int. refs. Both are notorious: the former for not knowing the rules and the latter for ignoring the rules.
      I had the ‘privilege’ of attending Garces’ first game in European Rugby (Poite injured himself just before the game) and he was a disaster – even the guys there to monitor the ref’s performance were giving out about him. I don’t go to games where he’s officiating.
      Poite, when questioned about a wrong decision he awarded, famously replied “We play by my rules”

      Seeing as Garces learned his trade from Poite, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.

  • BarneySF

    What about taking a leaf out of Japan’s/Eddie’s scrum book – super fast channel one ball!!?

    • Nutta

      Fair point. But again it takes years of training in-close to get that familiarity and we haven’t done the hard yards. Further, the super-fast clearance was hugely assisted by an illegal packing of the No8 (watch his binds in-particular) so I doubt a Tier1 would be given the lee-way

  • Allrugby87

    Lets speak in layman’s terms here. Our starting front row, Sio (best loose head scrummager in the squad- deficient in what he brings across the game to Slipper), Moore (experienced and strong hooker) and Kepu (far improved scrummager and best TH in the country) need to take matters into their own hands on Saturday. There will be no excuses that the Australian public including myself will buy if the ascendency swings Englands way and Poite takes the easy option of penalising the Australian scrum based on reputation. They need to get physical, dictate terms, get in Englands face, close the space, and maintain a strong square scrum. It needs to be a seriously good attitude approach and a belief that they are not inferior and we can dictate terms at the scrum to get quality ball for our back line. In other words, Man the F**k up, scrummage strong, have some arrogance and don’t look for excuses come Sunday morning.

  • Dean Bainbridge

    Marler must have special dispensation from World Rugby to angle in – I can’t remember the last time he scrummaged straight and it’s so blatant.
    But the Aussies have the advantage of having studied in depth the English shenanigans. Kepu is far more experienced than 23 year old Tomas Francis, winning his 3rd cap, so hopefully they’ll at least match the English scrum and negate pretty much their strongest weapon.

  • Funk

    Where’s Nutta? I’d like to hear what he has to say on this???? Do we have to say the magic word?….

    ok BEALE!!!!

  • Fatflanker

    The consolation prize for the loser of the scrum battle will be Tinki Winki’s handbag – the stakes have never been higher!

  • markpa

    Instead of the overhead view just being used after the event it should be used real time by the 4th match official to inform the ref.
    Sure, it’s only an option on some grounds, but where it is use it.
    Also why not let ref move to openside and the nearest touchie comes in to ref that side of scrum so both sides of scrum know they’re being watched. Bit harder to ensure backs haven’t moved up, but worth it given no. of scrum penalties.
    There needs to be clarity that a scrum is a contested restart not a penalty lottery.

    • They should have a retired front-rower to ref scrums using drone footage from a comfortable seat with a well stocked fridge.

      • markpa

        Would you consider yourself adequately qualified?

  • Josua Mudreilagi

    Excellent…

  • Brett McKay

    Nice one, Matt, must’ve been a theme yesterday
    #ScrumStraightJoe is growing as a movement!

  • Nutta

    Matt – great bit of kit. Pretty much spot on in my opinion in terms of what is happening.

    Refs – most refs are ex 9’s, 7’s or Wingers. They know fkall about scrummage. To them, possession is 9/10ths the law so you simply must make it look like you have ascendency.

    Over-head Cam should certainly be employed via the TMO as the LH boring across is a deliberate destabilising of the scrum and as such is dangerous play. Use the TMO, yellow card the bastard and put a stop to it.

    However guys, for your critical pleasure and to satisfy the Funk, please find a post from a few years ago on how to stop a boring LH with no help from a Ref. Some minor detail has changed but here’s the go:

    Tighthead stopping Loosehead boring without any assistance from the Ref…

    If he’s a borer you have to stop him at the engage. You will start your stance even lower, kick your feet back a little further and with feet & hips angling out to the right a bit more then usual (if you know/think it’s coming). A good tip is to check your height via “The Law of Knuckles”. All this means is to ask yourself “Can my knuckles comfortably touch the ground?” (without compromising shape). If they cannot then you are too high.

    On engagement you move quick to trap him short and high – that is be aggressive on the engage, get over the centre-line to a good body position, pin his head and arm “short” up near your shoulder with a fast and short bind up under his armpit. The bind motion here is almost a right hook punch looking to get a handful of underarm hair or man-boob through his jumper (don’t let his head or bind go “long”) and thereby prevent him space to duck under you. Your thrust is straight and “down & out through the chest” to pin his torso low towards his thighs. Then his only option (if he still wishes to bore) is to step wide and drive across the line of shoulders (as opposed to the line of chest/ribs if he “gets long”). A competent ref will see this skullduggery in action, but we aren’t counting on him here. So when he steps this will open his ribs up to a shoulder from your breakaway if he’s alert to the opportunity (your own breakaway “slides up” and buries a shoulder into him). The TH can also counter this shoulder-line boring by bringing your binding elbow straight down thus taking away space for the loose-head to duck under and angle out from. But all this can only be done if you are 1) low and 2) quick to engage and 3) strong enough

    If you are too slow or high on the engage and get caught then the only real alternative is to drop your left shoulder to force a wedge between the loose-head and his hooker and then breathe in to straighten back out again across the shoulders – forcing the opposing hooker and loose-head to split. You may well have intended to do this anyway and so simply continue the tactic. This split will allow you to move through or “beyond” his bore. This takes very good breathing and significant experience (as the power to break the bind comes more from your body positioning and expanding rib-cage then any shoulder strength) and significant drive from your lock and breakaway to wedge yourself in there initially. However if you are good enough to execute it (or their bind is too weak to stop it) it will split their scrum and leave their loosehead stranded outside the scrum. A competent ref will penalise the LH for splitting, but again we aren’t relying on that. Once again you must be low and have very real power through the engage (lock and breakaway are vital – no one I ever met is strong enough to do it solo – unless his opponents are dead-set muppets) so body height and pre-engage shape is essential.

    The other way to stop it is quite brutal, takes excellent scrum coordination, but he won’t try it again… Basically, when you feel the wheel or bore come on from their LH you all (the whole scrum) take 2 short steps right and then drive straight. This has the effect of rolling the loose-head back on himself and then they will collapse under you as you change angle and shove forward. As they roll under your studs be sure to not miss the opportunity to leave an impression.

    All that being said, the basic principle of tight-head (especially on your own feed) is to get over the line low & fast and impact the loosehead in such a way as to balance him outside your right shoulder – balanced low enough that there’s no space for him to duck under and reach your sternum but high enough that he can’t make you roll under him. If the loosehead is boring it means (by definition) his line of push and thereby his hips are not in parallel to his hooker which leaves him exposed to wedging and “pushing past”. But this takes good strength and combination with lock & breakaway.

    If he gets “inside” your shoulder then basically your fkd my friend. All you can do then is try and push past him (as above) or drop the scrum and maybe ruffle their feathers with a punch or two to change the topic…

    • Funk

      Thanks for that, having never stuck my head in a proper scrum (but love every aspect of the dark arts) I appreciate your experienced words…and apologies for using the B word.

      • Nutta

        I giggled at the bait. I think Beale should seriously be considered as a TH alongside his appointment as Captain and Squad Deportment & Etiquette Officer. I would love to see him in a scrum or three as it would harness his X factor and shape his career. I expect BH81 may get a bit ruffled though.

    • Bill Siviter

      Good summation but the question is do the Wallabies have the front row with the ability to take the law into their own hands, and if they do why don’t we see them doing it?

      • Who?

        The real question is… Why isn’t Nutta either playing in Gold, or perhaps coaching at a high level..? Or is he really Nick Stiles with a few deliberate pieces of misguidance..?

        • Lindommer

          I don’t understand Swahili, Nutta. But there again, I was a back…

        • Nutta

          Cheers Who. I do a little coach/advising when clubs ask around set peice and/or specific elements of play. I like it. Played a bit in UK & Ireland. No I didn’t ever play that high in Oz – too much a tight player and not much of a ball runner

      • Nutta

        Refs are watching binds quite tightly. Thus a short binding TH will get the ref off-side immediately. Refs are not watching LH angling in. Dunno why but they just aren’t. Maybe it’s because the bullshit generally starts after the feed when the red has moved on. The methodology of pushing past and/or step & drive that I advocate take great amounts of practice and we simply have not put in the hours over the years. Ledesma has done great in a short space of time but it’s still Johnny come lately stuff. You need to remember the English & French have been doing this with intensity for years where we still pick props on the basis of their fkn ball running!

    • Parker

      Thanks for the education, though I still prefer Steve Finnane’s law of the knuckles.

    • Swansea Till I Die!

      This probably works back in the days of the hit, not so much now.

  • KoreaViewPoint

    How is Japan doing?

  • AlanDownunder

    Too hard for any ref, if not for three – one feed side, one other side, TMO with overhead cam live. So rule of thumb – if it doesn’t stay up, tight and square, free kick to the feeders. Beats every other rule of thumb the refs resort to.

  • McWarren

    If we won’t use the overhead during the game. Then surely post match it could be used to identify dangerous play. As that is exactly what it is. QC gets yellowed for slapping an opponent around the chest, yet Marler and co. have unhindered permission to try and break someone’s neck.

    • Nick

      Couldn’t agree more. This very dangerous and cynical and deserves an instant yellow card and the team issued a warning.

    • Swansea Till I Die!

      The problem with it being used in game is that a fair number of stadiums simply dont have it.

  • Gus

    FYI the English Daily Telegraph ran an article this morning (Wednesday) on Marler angling in. Bait in the mouth….

  • Teh othar Daev

    Couldn’t agree more, Gagger – this concept of ‘dominance’ in determining scrum penatlies needs to be put to bed once and for all. Refs need to spend more time on scrum mechanics – binds, packing angle, body height, and foot position all need to be taken into account. Sometimes it’s difficult to pick in real time, especially given that we have access to replays and still images, but both packs in that test were systematically playing for the three points.

  • Trigger

    I’m amazed how you can tell a good story from static shots!

  • durk84

    have you worked out yet that all nz and England do is cheat.

  • alanrough2

    Very interesting thread; some good comments.

    At a recent BT Premiership game (top level of Scottish amateur club rugby), I was bemoaning the present-day state of the scrum with the SRU’s referee assessor.

    His suggestion was, we insist on straight feeds – hookers learn to hook – and, most-importantly: we depenalise the scrum. The scrum is supposed to be a means of re-starting play after a technical offence (knock-on, etc). It was never designed to be a means of winning penalties.

    So, if a scrum goes wrong, yes, penalise the scrum which the referee decides has offended, but NOT with a penalty. Call it a half-penalty if you like: the side taking it cannot go for goal; if that side kicks to touch, the opposition gets the put-in; or, they can take a tap penalty, with the opposition ten metres away.

    The fact they could not win a kickable penalty at a scrum might make both sides concentrate on scrumming properly, to get the ball back into play quickly.

    As for quick Channel One ball – that always used to be the gold standard in scrum ball. Let’s learn from the Japanese and try to get back there.

  • Jt

    The sad thing about scrummaging is that there could be 5 different penalties at every one for different infringements.
    It might be a spectacle but it bollockses up the game more often than not

  • Mark Ring

    How do you explain what the Fiji Tight head did to Jenkins then? This guy played for Cardiff Blues, couldn’t get a regular spot, dropped down to Premiership and was eventually allowed to leave as he was highly criticised for struggling at scrum time! He then plays an integral part in Fiji’s Scrum domination.

  • Gus

    International fame for Matt and GAGR. See Brian Moore article in the Saturday English Daily Telegraph. On a separate note “Pooper” has also been picked up by the English press, surely an expression first used on the GAGR site.

  • Swansea Till I Die!

    To how come when England drive in crooked its a correct call to give them the pen but when Jenkins does it and wins one it was a bad call?

Analysis
@MattRowley

Matt started G&GR just before the 2007 Rugby World Cup and has been enslaved ever since. Follow him on twitter: @MattRowley

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