6

Since I've watched Rugby in the late 90's, the referee's verbal directions for the scrum have been either:

Crouch-Pause-Engage

or for the last several years:

Crouch-Touch-Pause-Engage

I was watching the Six Nations games today, and the directions have changed to:

Crouch-Touch-Set

Unfortunately I live in a country where Rugby is not really watched. Can someone explain to me why the directions have changed, and what the thinking is?

  • The Rugby Championship (Australia/New Zealand/South Africa/Argentina) just finished and they used a different set of commands again: crouch-bind-set. The players would bind together but not allowed to push until set. Seemed to keep the scrum from collapsing a bit better in the games I saw – Greg Oct 23 '13 at 4:57
  • @Greg - that sounds completely sensible, and kind of like the way that Rugby League scrums are set, but hopefully a bit more of the competition of a Union scrum. I wonder whether the Six Nations will use it. – iandotkelly Oct 23 '13 at 14:28
  • It was some of the best scrums I've seen in a while. Instead of being about the initial engagement it was about the ongoing pressure you could apply through the scrum. Also allowed the ref to make sure the ball was feed into the middle of the scrum – Greg Oct 23 '13 at 21:33
7

Law 20 of the International Rugby Board states the laws regarding the scrum, and 20.1 specifies the forming of the scrum. Amendment 21 to this section states the following:

CURRENT LAW 20.1 Forming a scrum

(g)

The referee will call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch and, using their outside arm, each prop touches the point of the opposing props outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “pause”. Following a pause the referee will then call “engage”. The front rows may then engage. The “engage” call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready.

AMENDED LAW 20.1 Forming a scrum

(g)

The referee will call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch and, using their outside arm, each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. Following a pause the referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then engage. The “set” call is not a command but an indication that the front rows may come together when ready.

While the official page for the amendment does not have any information as to why this change was made, the wikipedia article on scrum claims that the change was to speed up the scrum:

"Pause" has been removed in order to speed up the scrum and to minimize resets due to collapsed scrums.

I found another article on "The Australian" which claims that the change in directions during scrum is one of the changes on trial basis for 2013, and that the motivation was to decrease the risk of injuries as well as speeding up the game. The article features opinions from several professionals as well, good read.

4

The reason set replaces engage is because engage is a very awkward word to use. It has two syllables, and worse, the stressed syllable is the second one. The effect is like saying "ready, set, g-Go" in a running race. Because scrummaging is time critical to a matter of milliseconds, a single syllable word is much more efficient.

  • This is a very good point. I had not considered that, particularly in pro games where as you say milliseconds count. – iandotkelly Sep 7 '13 at 15:30

protected by Philip Kendall Aug 10 '16 at 5:40

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