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England Rugby
Rowntree buoyed by scrum changes
Graham Jenkins
September 14, 2013
England's Alex Corbisiero and Tom Youngs pack down with Ruckley © RFU
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England forwards coach Graham Rowntree has welcomed the impact of the latest scrum engagement protocol and predicted it will lead to a more entertaining game.

A global trial of the 'Crouch, Bind, Set' sequence, a revision of the 'Crouch, Touch, Set' approach introduced last year, began last month with the aim of reducing the number of collapses and resets and improving player safety and welfare. It was also hoped that the change would enhance the set-piece as a spectacle having been labelled a 'grotesque farce' earlier this year by former England hooker Brian Moore.

Rowntree has been an avid observer of the trial with his side set to embrace the changes during their end of year campaign that begins with a clash against Australia on November 2 and has been heartened by what he has seen.

"I know why they made the changes to the scrum that they did because as a forwards coach I was disappointed during the Six Nations with the amount of collapsed scrums and reset scrums," Rowntree said at the launch of the Rugby Football Union's new ambassador for children's rugby, Ruckley.

"What it will do is enable a pack that wants to scrum to be able to scrum because now if you want to collapse on engagement it is very obvious to the referee who is doing it. I'm disappointed it got to this stage but I but from what I am seeing around the world it is working and there is more playable possession - but it is going to need a bit of time to bed down."

A review of the trial will take place next year with a decision on whether to adopt the change into law will follow but Rowntree does not believe it will take that long to gauge whether it has been a success. "I think we are already seeing teams getting to grips with it having played with it for a few weeks," he said.

"Ultimately I think there will be more playable possession but it won't take anything away from the scrum. A lot of people think it will de-power the scrum but I don't agree. I think it will benefit a team that wants to proactively scrum because you can't have a load of collapses on the engagement like we saw before."

Rowntree has also welcomed the enforced return to old-style hooking but is wary it will mean some players will need to go back to scrum school. "You haven't got a huge engagement like we had previously to build momentum, instead you have minimal engagement," he said. "So it is more technical and is certainly bringing hooking back into the game and we've got a generation of hookers who have never hooked the ball so that is a skill they are going to have to acquire."

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Graham Jenkins is the Senior Editor of ESPNscrum and you can also follow him on Twitter.
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Graham Jenkins is a former senior editor of ESPNscrum