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Man of Kent

The Slow Death of the Rugby League Scrum

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9 minutes ago, RL does what Sky says said:

Agreed. Scrums are one of the facets that makes our game different to others although I certainly wouldn't want to return to the way scrums were in say, the 1960s/70s which saw the hookers almost sat on the floor.

However today's scrums have gone too far the other way and are just a farce with the ball just being passed from scrum-hlaf to loose-forward while the rest of the forwards hardly bend their backs and immediately breakaway as soon as the ball is fed.

If we agree that the "non-offending" team should have any advantage at the scrum (as they currently do at every scrum these days) then why not put into the middle of the tunnel but only allow the non-offending hooker to strike for it ?

That would still keep the same advantage as they have now but at least it would make the scrums appear more worthwhile, as would my other suggestion that only the scrum-half can pick up the ball at the base of the scrum - therefore ensuring the forwards stay packed down for longer and are not immediately back in the defensive line before the first tackle is made.

This has happened to me before. Posted just after you, read yours, and saw plenty of duplication.

Anyway good to know that someone else is broadly on the same page.

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2 minutes ago, unapologetic pedant said:

This has happened to me before. Posted just after you, read yours, and saw plenty of duplication.

Anyway good to know that someone else is broadly on the same page.

Great minds think alike .......... although fools seldom differ !!!

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As I have mentioned before on the scrum threads, before we decide that the scrum is an archaic throwback and decide to eliminate it, we need to think very carefully about how this change will affect the perception of the game with the wider public... you know, those people who we want to attract and become fans of our game.

If we go back 40 years or so, at their heart, both codes both codes of rugby was a battle for possession of the ball and then what a team could do with the ball once they have secured possession.  In Rugby League, this was the play the ball and the scrum (which were both contestable) and in Union it was the ruck (following the tackle and ball release), the lineout and the scrum.

In League (with the exception of the one on one steal) we have all but eliminated the contest for possession and the sport is now one of precision of execution.  As Rugby League fans, we enjoy this but I would ask if it does us any favours in the bigger picture where the sport is often criticized as repetitive and predictable.  I am very sure that handball is a very tactical game with subtleties of formation and game plan but all I see is a ball being passed around and a goal scored every few minutes.  It soon becomes repetitive and I switch off.

Now, there is value in simplicity, I understand that.  The likes of basketball and soccer are very simple games in structure but extremely popular but is Rugby League in danger of dumbing itself down to the point where people perceive it to be just 26 big athletic men running into each other for 80 minutes.  We know it is not that but we are the choir here and we don't need converting.

If we are absolutely convinced the sport will be better to watch, play and attract new fans without the scrum them let's crack on (in fact this may be a perfect excuse for an experiment) but I think we should be very wary of what we are turning the sport into... and each small change over the last 40 years or so could be sensible in their own right but the cumulative effect may not be what we intended.

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10 hours ago, wiganermike said:

It's the other way around, the play the ball is a lesser scrum. Always was in a sense as the play the ball was initially introduced as a 2 man (tackled player opposed by marker defender) scrum with the marker defender being able to strike for the ball with the foot like the hooker in a full (6 v 6) scrum. Only later was the ability to strike for the ball outlawed. The previous method of restart before the play the ball was introduced following a tackle had been to form a full scrum each time.

The degeneration of the scrum to the non-contest it is today is a factor that may lead to it never coming back as it is no longer a key factor in competition for possession as once it was. I suppose it will depend on what effect the removal of scrums has on the games in practice during the remainder of this season as to whether it is decided to either bring them back or make the removal permanent.

I take your point and broadly correct.  But the tackle was/is a 2 man (each side) ruck, not a scrum.  It was intended to be contested, as was the scrum.

I think the scrum should remain. I wonder in the original question is slightly trolling, although I think it's a fair enough opinion.  But I suggest to everyone that the big point of a scrum is that it brings all the forwards together and allows space for the backs.  I suppose this is less essential these days with the 11 yard line. (thats my bee in the bonnet of course)

If we want to abolish the scrum then we should replace it by a line of scrimmage. This would maintain the opportunity for the backs.

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24 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

In League (with the exception of the one on one steal) we have all but eliminated the contest for possession and the sport is now one of precision of execution.  As Rugby League fans, we enjoy this but I would ask if it does us any favours in the bigger picture where the sport is often criticized as repetitive and predictable. 

Totally agree . I sometimes like to ask non-fans opinions of sports I love , just to get a snapshot . It’s interesting . Test cricket ... today I got ‘ I can’t watch this it’s too slow , I like 20/20 ‘ . And a friend came in during the Titans game and right away he said ‘ it always looks like the same thing is happening over n over when I watch this game ‘ . I said rubbish , but it does make you think ! 

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1 minute ago, DavidM said:

Totally agree . I sometimes like to ask non-fans opinions of sports I love , just to get a snapshot . It’s interesting . Test cricket ... today I got ‘ I can’t watch this it’s too slow , I like 20/20 ‘ . And a friend came in during the Titans game and right away he said ‘ it always looks like the same thing is happening over n over when I watch this game ‘ . I said rubbish , but it does make you think ! 

The first thing we need to do to attract more fans is to be honest with ourselves about which parts of the game is not appealing. 

Now, this doesn't mean we have to change but it gives us a starting point for our thinking.

What does us no favours is this assumption that if only people were able to see the game they would fall in love with it. I guarantee that every sports fan in the country has seen Rugby League being played in one media or another.

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Everything is weighted toward the team in possession , and retaining possession . I’ve done the different interpretation regards penalties and the latitude teams in possession get , but when the ball comes out often it seems the default , even if it’s unclear ,  is penalty ...to me it should be knock on unless there’s a reef at the ball . I think you should be able to strip it 2 on 1 anyway . Or hell,  make it a contest for the ball till the ref calls held .Scrums are just an automatic retaining of the ball as well . There’s fewer ways of forcing back possession now 

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I hear the point about repetitiveness and the lack of a contest and predictability.

However, if you could start from scratch you wouldn’t come up with an RL scrum as an answer to that - they aren’t a contest and they are predictable!

What’s the alternative? A centre bounce like Aussie Rules or a soccer-style drop ball by the ref? 

 

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4 minutes ago, Man of Kent said:

I hear the point about repetitiveness and the lack of a contest and predictability.

However, if you could start from scratch you wouldn’t come up with an RL scrum as an answer to that - they aren’t a contest and they are predictable!

What’s the alternative? A centre bounce like Aussie Rules or a soccer-style drop ball by the ref? 

 

They were an answer but they’re not now . We’ve killed off the scrum by taking away any meaning it had making it a farce . There’s no point keeping this incarnation of it that’s for sure

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13 minutes ago, Man of Kent said:

I hear the point about repetitiveness and the lack of a contest and predictability.

However, if you could start from scratch you wouldn’t come up with an RL scrum as an answer to that - they aren’t a contest and they are predictable!

What’s the alternative? A centre bounce like Aussie Rules or a soccer-style drop ball by the ref? 

 

They are only predictable because we have allowed them to become predictable.  In fact, the criticism of the scums before we sanitised them was that they were a bit of a lottery which is the opposite of predictable.

I think RL Does What Sky Says and unapologetic pedant have the right balance with the non offending team provided the put in (in the tunnel) and only their hooker can strike while the offending team can push.  This way it is at least a contest of sorts while still rewarding the non offending team with an advantage and not being too scrappy.  It also means forwards have to commit to the scrum for fear of losing possession and this frees up the pitch for the backs which is why a lot of people like the scrum.

I think this would massively improve the optics of the game.

Edited by Dunbar

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1 minute ago, Dunbar said:

They are only predictable because we have allowed them to become predictable.  In fact, the criticism of the scums before we sanitised them was that they were a bit of a lottery which is the opposite of predictable.

I think RL Does What Sky Says has the right balance with the non offending team provided the put in (in the tunnel) while the offending team can push.  This way it is at least a contest of sorts while still rewarding the non offending team with an advantage and not being too scrappy.  It also means forwards have to commit to the scrum for fear of losing possession and this frees up the pitch for the backs which is why a lot of people like the scrum.

I think this would massively improve the optics of the game.

Fair enough. You’re one of those chaps who think rugby = scrums.

Don’t think the days of contested scrums are coming back, for good or ill...

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We’ve tinkered and innovated with so many areas of the game to evolve , but we’ve totally neglected scrums until it’s withered .As Dunbar says  I can’t believe it’s beyond the wit of the authorities to make scrums something more than this , but the will wasn’t there so now commentators openly laugh at them . Now they’re on the near to extinction  list . That’s pretty sad IMO but we’ll see . I’ll miss scrums , but I miss refs making decisions , the shoulder charge and punch ups . Maybe I’m just a dinosaur 

Edited by DavidM
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Just now, Man of Kent said:

Fair enough. You’re one of those chaps who think rugby = scrums.

Don’t think the days of contested scrums are coming back, for good or ill...

If that's what you have taken from what I have said on the subject then you have completely misunderstood my point.

It may be my fault if I haven't explained myself properly.

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2 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

If that's what you have taken from what I have said on the subject then you have completely misunderstood my point.

It may be my fault if I haven't explained myself properly.

Maybe I read ‘push’ and misunderstood. I’m well into a bottle of Bunnahabhain, so please excuse me 😃

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1 minute ago, Man of Kent said:

Maybe I read ‘push’ and misunderstood. I’m well into a bottle of Bunnahabhain, so please excuse me 😃

That's ok.  I am on my 3rd Vesper so not probably not explaining myself well!

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I do feel that scrums can still have a future, provided that they are done properly. It is an aspect that differentiates rugby from other sports and does give the players a chance for a small breather which will be needed with the six again rule been adopted. It is the only time really when forwards are out of the way and the team in possession have a real chance to attack the defending teams back line. 

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9 hours ago, The Rocket said:

Always thought that basketball needs tackling to make it more interesting.

You could call it Rocketball, or Rucketbull in NZ.

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Learn to listen without distortion and learn to look without imagination.

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If you dispensed with scrums entirely then you would have to learn some new terminology ...

ie... This is a quote from the "Glossary of Terms" in the official Laws of the Game .......

Forward means in a direction towards the opponents dead ball line. As applied to a player it means one who is at the time packing down in the scrum

Therefore no scrums = no forwards.

So what position would you describe numbers 7 - 13 as ?  As there would not longer be any scrums or forwards then they can no longer be Scrum-half,  Prop-forwards, Hooker, Second-row forwards or Loose-forward.

Edited by RL does what Sky says

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44 minutes ago, RL does what Sky says said:

If you dispensed with scrums entirely then you would have to learn some new terminology ...

ie... This is a quote from the "Glossary of Terms" in the official Laws of the Game .......

Forward means in a direction towards the opponents dead ball line. As applied to a player it means one who is at the time packing down in the scrum

Therefore no scrums = no forwards.

So what position would you describe numbers 7 - 13 as ?  As there would not longer be any scrums or forwards then they can no longer be Scrum-half,  Prop-forwards, Hooker, Second-row forwards or Loose-forward.

To suggest no scrums means no forwards lacks a little foresight. Seven could be a midfielder, along with number six, or either could be a pivot, 9 could also be a pivot.

I'm sure you could come up with a few ideas.


Learn to listen without distortion and learn to look without imagination.

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8 hours ago, RL does what Sky says said:

If you dispensed with scrums entirely then you would have to learn some new terminology ...

ie... This is a quote from the "Glossary of Terms" in the official Laws of the Game .......

Forward means in a direction towards the opponents dead ball line. As applied to a player it means one who is at the time packing down in the scrum

Therefore no scrums = no forwards.

So what position would you describe numbers 7 - 13 as ?  As there would not longer be any scrums or forwards then they can no longer be Scrum-half,  Prop-forwards, Hooker, Second-row forwards or Loose-forward.

I don’t think banishing scrums makes ‘forwards’ and ‘backs’ obsolete but it’s an interesting one to ponder..

Hooker could be quarterback, technically accurate in relation to the PTB. Scrum-half = halfback.

Props could be left middle & right middle forwards.

I can’t improve on loose forward for 13, but the second row could be left edge and right edge forwards.

Edited by Man of Kent

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5 hours ago, Dunbar said:

The first thing we need to do to attract more fans is to be honest with ourselves about which parts of the game is not appealing. 

Now, this doesn't mean we have to change but it gives us a starting point for our thinking.

What does us no favours is this assumption that if only people were able to see the game they would fall in love with it. I guarantee that every sports fan in the country has seen Rugby League being played in one media or another.

Most people will have seen some RL but I would argue never (certainly not in UK) with commentary and analysis anywhere near in tune with the modern game.

To refer back to your earlier post that drew a distinction between games which have or do not have a regular contest for possession. So we have Soccer, RU, Aussie rules in the former group and American Football, Basketball, and (have to take your word for this) Handball in the latter group. Rugby league moved, beginning roughly 50 years ago, in stages, from the former to the latter group, but our culture has never fully adapted to the change.

In Gridiron and basketball what you describe as "precision of execution" is recognised, and to be sometimes "repetitive and predictable", as part of the mix, is not seen as a shortcoming. They realise that sports without a regular contest for possession are more strategic and nuanced, and their culture reflects that. By contrast RL is still to a considerable extent viewed through the lens of either RU or unlimited possession RL.

It`s not a perfect analogy but it`s worth looking at the perception of Soccer over the past say 40 years. Before, most people wanted the ball hit long and lots of aerial contests. It prompted angry impatience if the goalie didn`t kick and threw it out short. The kind of Premier League tippy-tappy passing of today would have gone down like a lead balloon.

But from about Italia 90 onwards views changed. Soccer fans will be aware that an extended period of passing around at the back is, in itself, not the most exciting thing they could see. But they accept that it fits into the overall context of the game and remain engaged. In RL much of its compelling aspect is missed because the audience is given the impression that in between tries, big hits, and line breaks, nothing of interest is happening.

 

 

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11 hours ago, RL does what Sky says said:

Agreed. Scrums are one of the facets that makes our game different to others although I certainly wouldn't want to return to the way scrums were in say, the 1960s/70s which saw the hookers almost sat on the floor.

However today's scrums have gone too far the other way and are just a farce with the ball just being passed from scrum-hlaf to loose-forward while the rest of the forwards hardly bend their backs and immediately breakaway as soon as the ball is fed.

If we agree that the "non-offending" team should have any advantage at the scrum (as they currently do at every scrum these days) then why not put into the middle of the tunnel but only allow the non-offending hooker to strike for it ?

That would still keep the same advantage as they have now but at least it would make the scrums appear more worthwhile, as would my other suggestion that only the scrum-half can pick up the ball at the base of the scrum - therefore ensuring the forwards stay packed down for longer and are not immediately back in the defensive line before the first tackle is made.

This could easily give the offending Team an advantage in that they (I would do this) would commit to 6 players pushing, whereas the non offending Team would have a hooker, hooking the ball for a split second and only 5 committed to push.

There is no easy answer and the evidence of that is all the permutations and discussions on this board about scrums in the past few years.

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Those uncontested scrums are a bigger embarrassment than how the old ones became. I dont need to go through it again ,but at least they looked as though they were packing down for a reason. These uncontested scrums are getting worse , I've a stiff spine ,but I can bend better than them . Soon they will be just gathering in a group and the scrum half will roll it through their legs . OH wait ! 


 Soon we will be dancing the fandango
FROM 2004,TO DO WHAT THIS CLUB HAS DONE,IF THATS NOT GREATNESSTHEN i DONT KNOW WHAT IS.

JAMIE PEACOCK

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I think there's some Rose tinted glasses regarding old scrums, the reason they evolved into uncontested ones was they were an absolute mess taking far too much time in a game. Watching older games during lockdown scrums were easily the worst thing about them. 

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