New scrumming laws

In a nutshell, the IRB’s new scrumming laws will be tested for a trial period.

“Pause!” will disappear altogether.

“Engage!” will be replaced by “Set!”

So it will be “Crouch! Touch! Set!”

So as soon as the props withdraw their arms after touching the opposing prop’s outside shoulder, the ref will call “SET!” when the front rows are ready.

The IRB expert steering committee did however state that “there is no quick and easy fix. There are many contributing factors and we need to take a complete view of the scrum environment including engagement, Laws, forces and player welfare.”

Testing showed that “Crouch! Touch! Set!” was the most successful approach and will now be trialled globally.

It will be interesting to see how this one pans out.


  1. Any refs … Will there still be a “hit” when “Set” is called? Or is the hit being removed from the game?

  2. @Pedantic: Seems like there will still be a hit. Research just showed that “pause” caused many collapsed scrums. Guys like that Quinton Immelman are just painfully slow at getting to engage bit after pause.

    This reminds me of a bit of F1 (in reverse)when they decided that a green light after a red wasn’t such a hot idea and came up with the lights that come on and then eventually go out – like a countdown. The advantage is that the driver can work out the timing and take off at the exact right time.

  3. I wonder what would happen if they momentarily allowed the LH props to place their left hand on the ground as part of the rules of engage? Unfair advantage?

  4. @Pedantic: The hit is still there – but there are discussionsin motion to have it removed – in which case we may as well have the entire scrum removed from the game and restart rugby-league style. What a sad day that will be.

    Not too sure what this ammendment aims to achieve – the current “engage” call is also an indication to engage when ready – not a command (Law 20.1(g)) as the “Set” call will be, so besides removing one step in the process (Pause) it is not too clear how different this will be.

    I will get clarity at our next Law meeting on Monday and will report back here.

  5. @Beet: I tend to let the ‘hand on the ground’ thing go if it results in continuity, a scrum that would otherwise have collapsed (safety) and if the offending team does not gain an unfair advantage.

    I recall when I played, just over 20 years ago to be fair, the referee made a mark, the scrums formed up and engaged when they were ready. It has become far too complicated and law intensive. We need to go back to basics here while preserving safety. I think proper coaching is key here – not ratcheting up the laws.

  6. @greenblooded , I agree , make it simple, but the “HIT” has to remain, 30 years ago i can’t remember how it the Hit worked , but the scrum was effective , i think more than the hand going to ground but more of the “bind” needs to be looked at , if after the engage , the Props are allowed time to bind , it would be safer and less collapsed scrums, , so for me the engage is causing the problems with so many reset scrums, rather let the fronts rows engage , steady and then put the ball it , if the timing is right between hooker and scrumhalf, they can get the “push “ that little bit earlier to gain ascendency in the Scrum

  7. and a collapsed scrum from that perspective is then far more easy to blow from a transgression perspective

  8. Morning Chaps. I did a bit of digging to try and ascertain what and how this new call/s was going to help. Effectively they are trying to get back to the front rows engaging when they are ready(kind of) and no pushing until the ball is in. The reason for most of the collapsed scrums is the quest for the front rows to get ‘the hit’ or advantage over the opposition and get the required’shoulder’. Problem comes when a team does not get the ‘hit’ and forces a collapse so that they can try again. More often in the higher teams rather than schoolboy rugby. In my opinion, can work if they leave the front rows to hit when they are ready, similar to how I believe the rucks should be left to the players to sort out rather than the refs.

  9. @Greenblooded – I agree with your comments, but ‘hand on the ground’ is illegal for a reason. It often leads to the collapse of scrums and if someone gets away with it for 60% of the time, he will never learn to bind properly.

  10. the reason they collapse is because when they “hit” they don’t bind effectively and with the combined pressure and the vertical levels of the back of the props being at differing angles you have the “impact ” causing the flex and hence either the combined pressure causes the prop to hinge or without the bind to try and hold it up , at this point he naturally puts his hand down to steady or regroup and hence the infringement
    the “hit” now is such a technical thing , I agree with the engage being when they are steady , its easy to realize that a front lower in the hips then an opposing front row , will at the hit , because the opposing front row has to drop the shoulders lower than the hips , don’t have a straight back , this leads to the smaller front row gaining ascendancy and the opposing front row either dropping the bind or collapsing because their backs aren’t straight at the engage to take the pressure of the hit

  11. @All Black: “Effectively they are trying to get back to the front rows engaging when they are ready”. This is no different from the current law – the “Engage” call is not a command but an indication to engage when ready. All that is different here is the “pause” is remvoed.

  12. Ok – so please explain what will us spectators actually see when a scrum is called and new rules are applied :?:


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