Oh the joy of being straight!

The new scrum engagement sequence enjoyed a marvelously positive debut, says Tank Lanning in his eNCA.com column, but it was the policing of the straight feed into the scrum that really did it for the big man.

I almost made a bit of a mess in my pants, such was my excitement at seeing a Jason Jaftha award a free kick for a skew scrum feed in the first Currie Cup game of 2013 between the Sharks and Griquas in Durban last Friday evening.

I thought the new “Crouch, Bind, Set” scrum engagement sequence enjoyed a marvellously positive debut, but it was the policing of the straight feed into the scrum that did it for me.

Having long been a scourge on the game, and as you might pick up, a personal bugbear of enormous proportions, the irony of it just being the enforcing of a law that has always been in place, was not lost on me.

We have seen so many changes to either the laws or the interpretation thereof, mostly making the game more and more complex, yet with the simple enforcement of an existing law, together with the new scrum engagement process, which actually takes the scrum back to what it like it was in the good old “Fold in” days, we now have not only a neater scrum with fewer resets, but also a scrum that is a proper contest again. It is tremendous!

It seems there might be a little truth to not fixing what “Aint broke”!

The grand old dame of SA rugby lived up to its billing as SA’s premier domestic competition with the opening round delivering 3 games that were separated by just 3 points!

And one could argue that the Griquas win in Durban was built on the performance of tighthead prop Lourens Adriaanse, while the Bulls comeback against WP was driven massively by their dominance come scrum time.

The Sharks taking strain up front, and the Bulls being able to scrum?

As predicted, the new scrum call and policing of the straight feed does indeed make a difference to how a team scrums, but it most certainly does not reduce it to a mere restart, or make it any less of a weapon. It is no longer about who wins the hit and then keeps their nose as close to the ground without collapsing. The scrum is now higher because the hooker has to actually hook he ball, and more about technique and timing mixed with raw strength and endurance.

But it was not all beer and skittles. Referees will take time to get used to the calls, and will continue to make the odd wrong call. New laws do not replace bad referees! They also seemed reluctant to continually blow the skew feed, but I was heartened by a Tweet from referee Stuart Berry in reply to my questioning this reluctance, saying “Returning from IRB conference in France and I can tell you it WILL continue”.

Apart from the Sharks and WP front rows, the other person having sleepless nights after seeing the new laws in action in the Currie Cup, must be Bok coach Heyneke Meyer. He is the man who left Adriaanse out of the Springbok squad, instead opting to use loosehead Coenie Oosthuizen as his back-up tighthead. With so much being unknown about how players will react to the new call, is it not worth making the late change?


  1. Now for some consistency …. I was at Newlands and skew throw-ins were the norm. I think the no. 9’s have been told to keep doing it until they get penalised.

  2. Have to agree with Christie

    First one was blown at Newlands and then it was “business as usual”

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