LEINSTER COACH GREG Feek says that patience is the key as players and referees adapt to the new scrum laws.
While there appear to be less collapses than previously, there have certainly been teething problems around the new rules in the opening two rounds of the RaboDirect PRO12.
Leinster were left angry at the sin binning of Sean Cronin due to scrum infringements during the 29-29 draw with the Ospreys last weekend.
The changes have been implemented to reduce the amount of time spent at the scrum, but there has been a sense of frustration at a lack of swift progress.
Feek says that everyone will take time to get to grips with the different approach, and that it’s an ongoing process.
“We all talked a bit at the start that there would be at least a month of getting used to it. Not only players but referees too. I think with the laws, they’ve taken the bind out of it now and put a lot of emphasis on the feed.”
The sight of scrumhalves being penalised for the crooked feed has certainly been welcome across the rugby world. A rule that has always been part of the game is finally being upheld, but Feek says that the increase in free-kicks on the feed may be down to the stilted perception of referees.
“I think if they can get the middle part right as well – props getting square as much as they can, head above hips — then at least you’ll get not only a stable, but a square scrum. The square scrum is where I think it’s effecting the straight feeds; because if a scrum isn’t square it’s difficult for the ref and it looks like the put-in is crooked.”
YouTube credit: RaboDirect PRO12
Leinster’s scrum guru is confident that the early problems can be overcome as soon as props realise their role. Feek stresses the need for the front row to uphold their responsibility to keep square at scrum time, allowing referees to “police those things better.”
The duties of the hooker are something that have come under particular scrutiny in the opening games of the season, especially with Cronin having been yellow carded against the Ospreys.
While still having to deal with pressure from the opposition’s hooker and tight head prop, the need to actually strike for the ball in the scrum has increased the hooker’s positional demands. Taking a foot off the ground in the scrum is proving problematic so far.
“There’s a lot of pressure on the hooker on your feed. Is getting a scrum now beneficial for the team putting the ball in? Well, you’ve just got to work harder and come up with ways to make it work. For a lot of us, it’s a good new challenge.”
Feel free to share your views on the new scrum laws below. Was Cronin hard done by on Saturday evening? Have you noticed an improvement in the speed and safety of the scrums?