Chris Pollock and World's leading referees ready for new scrum laws

Getty Images and James Mortimer     13 Aug 2013     Getty Images

Twenty-one referees, representing eight Unions, were joined by representatives of the IRB scrum working group, coaches, the media and the IRB’s match official selection committee for a series of preparation sessions ahead of The Rugby Championship and November Tests.

In a revision of the 'crouch, touch, set' engagement sequence currently being trialled, props will be expected to bind using their outside arm after the referee has called "bind". The front rows will maintain the bind until the referee calls "set". At that point, the two packs will engage.

The IRB Council approved the law trial in May, alongside a suite of five other aspects of law, on player welfare enhancement grounds as the revised sequence has the potential to reduce forces on engagement at the elite level by 25 per cent, therefore promoting long-term benefits.

Addressing the scrum collapse issues that have been prevalent recently in elite Rugby is not the driver of this change. However, it is possible that the new sequence, coupled with strict application of existing law by referees and universal positive attitude buy-in, could lead to a more stable platform and therefore fewer collapses and resets.

IRB Chief Executive Brett Gosper said: "The introduction of the law trial is just the tip of the iceberg. We are working in full partnership with our Unions to deliver a comprehensive programme of education to ensure that all are fully prepared for the start of the trial, including our top referees.”

"Fundamental to this process will be buy-in from all to ensure a positive approach to the scrum and to tackle the issues that are prevalent at the elite level of the Game. We anticipate an element of time for all to get comfortable with the new process, but if we can ensure a stable platform by working together, then the product will be better for all."

"The feedback that we have been getting from coaches and players around the world is that this is a positive change that enhances player welfare and scrum stability.

The referee forum was incredibly positive and highly constructive and there is a commitment to ensure strict policing of the scrum feed."

The full list of referees for The Rugby Championship 2013 is: Craig Joubert (SARU), Chris Pollock (NZRU), Jaco Peyper (SARU), Steve Walsh (ARU), Alain Rolland (IRFU), Jerome Garces (FFR), George Clancy (IRFU), Romain Poite (FFR), Nigel Owens (WRU) and Wayne Barnes (RFU).