A law change that prevents front rows from engaging before the scrum is properly set has been well-received by the Wallabies.
The International Rugby Board is scheduled to confirm the law change next month, which will see it coming it into effect in January. The front rows will have to engage by means of forming and touching each other, pushing after the scrum-feed rather than being allowed to set further apart in an attempt to get the big hit.
The hit favoured the bigger teams, who were able to utilise their bulk to overpower and destabilize the smaller scrums. Australia is one such smaller team who has suffered from this in recent times, and so any change that would detract from this factor could be seen as a boost for their game.
Coach John Connolly has supported the change, but only because it makes the game a bit safer. Incidentally, the law is being examined in an attempt to curb the amount of injuries that result from the scrum.
“I support this totally, purely for safety reasons,” Connolly said. “I was coaching in England when there were serious local scrummaging injuries, and we have to do all that we can to avert that. The game has enough challenges without allowing it to be any more dangerous.”
Connolly was predictably careful not to come right out and say it, but hinted that the change will suit his team.
“I’m not sure in terms of scrummaging that this will provide a huge advantage, particularly against teams like England, where on wet grounds you get very close together anyway,” Connolly said.
“Still there’s no doubt that explosion at the hit is something we have been working on this year, and we have been beaten to the hit at times. This [law change] will take a bit of that out at the contact. Put it this way, it won’t disadvantage us. We won’t be worse off â€¦ we may be slightly better off.”
Meanwhile, the IRB are planning on implementing a few more amendments aimed at speeding up the game. Although these will only come into effect after the World Cup, the Aussies are looking at introducing them at next year’s national competition. These experimental laws include not allowing players to pass the ball back into their own 22 to a kicker, free kicks given when a line-out throw is not straight, and teams not required to have the same number of players in their line-out as their opponents.