Scrums and their place in the game

Tragic Dragons fan Stephen Gallagher joins us again, and writes another article – this time, on scrums, and how and where the referees have cracked down on them to ensure improvement.

In the off season, the referee’s got together and decided enough was enough. Lets crack down on scrum time and play the ball areas. These rules have been rather soft since the NRL began in 1998. We have seen players not binding properly, or just putting the ball through one of the second rower’s legs as well as leaving the scrum early. Every single game you will see a player getting up and not even making an attempt to play the ball with their foot as the dummy half scoops it up for a quick dart or a pass. It’s now 2011, and it’s time we crack down.

Section 12 of the ARL rule guide clearly states that, “The loose forward of each team shall pack behind his second row forwards by placing his head in the space between them, ” as well as “all players must remain in the scrum until the ball is out of the scrum”. As simple and bold as the rule states, it’s not that straight forward. The first two weeks of this season were outlined by referees that they will be lenient towards the ruling, and from round three if you can not get this right you will be penalised. Spot on referees. A job well done.

I think for too long, scrums have been a farce and referees have just dealt with it. It seems to me that if they start to crack down on it, the players will now make more of an effort. In the Penrith V Cronulla match on Saturday a penalty was blown at scrum time. Four were given against Newcastle and one against the Warriors this weekend. Talks of scrums and penalties ruining the game, I think, is not right.

Stuart Raper who is the NRL referee’s boss said simply “‘We need to go through a little bit of pain”.

Other than scrum penalties being blown, we’ve seen play the ball targeted too. Players who are moving off the mark and get away for it have been a pet peeve of mine since I started to learn and understand the game. This year the crack down on the infringement will hopefully make a difference. It needs to be policed, and it has fans blowing up when it’s done and not called up by the officials. The mark is given where the player is tackled, any further metres forward or side on from that mark will be penalised. Players have to take it with a grain of salt, because it’s in the rule books and it is basic stuff.

It’s not just trying to steal a couple of metre’s in the play the ball that’s an issue. It’s also playing the ball its self. Section 11, Part 10 in the ARL rule guide says “Play with foot, and when the ball touches the ground it must be heeled (i.e. backwards) by the tackled player.” Not that hard to do, but it seems players have forgotten the art of playing the ball. So far we’ve seen a few penalties given on the ruling, if the referee’s have to keep blowing the penalty so be it. It’s a basic part of the game, which happens every possession of the ball.

Sources courtesy of The Australian Rugby League Laws Of The Game And Notes On The Laws. Official February 2010:
Quote from Stuart Raper in this article here:

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