Report demands changes to set-piece laws
October 18, 2011
Scrums have, as ever, been a contentious issue during the World Cup © Getty Images
Former British & Irish Lions props Fran Cotton, Mike Burton and Ray McLoughlin have put together a report on scrummaging which they have submitted to the International Rugby Board (IRB) in the hope of bringing about radical changes to the laws of the game.
According to The Telegraph, the trio, with the help of another former international in the shape of Mike Molloy, who is now a medical adviser to the IRB and Ireland, believe that the existing guidelines for officiating the set-piece are "unjust, illogical and inoperable".
Indeed, the report highlights a number of alleged inconsistencies and anomalies in the current rule book, with the law which states that a prop must be penalised if his shoulders drop below his hips put forward as a case in point.
"If one player's shoulders are lower than his hips, is it not very likely that the other player's shoulders will also then be lower than their hips. Does the referee toss a coin? Does he penalise both?
"If one prop were 6ft 4in and the opposing prop were 5ft 10in then, if everything were equal, it would be likely that the hips of the taller player would be above the level of his shoulders. Surely therefore this law constitutes bias against taller men."
The report argues that there are 13 laws which "need to be amended or eliminated". Among the recommendations made by the self-appointed 'think tank' is the introduction of a 'UPK', an unconvertible penalty kick. The quartet also suggest that scrums should only be reset once before the referee takes action and that the current command of "Crouch, touch, pause, engage" should be replaced by "Stand, touch, engage, push", arguing that removing the collision which currently comes after the engagement would result in less spinal injuries among front-row forwards.
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