Time for scrums to be consigned to history

In this week’s League Express, our UpFront column suggested that the abolition of scrums that we have seen since the game came out of lockdown, should be continued.


Ever since Super League began again after the lockdown at the beginning of August we have been watching Rugby League matches with no scrums.

And can any Rugby League supporter honestly say that we have missed them?

Inevitably some people might do. After all, they have been part of the game virtually forever, from the time that the Rugby Football Union was formed in 1871, when most of the current Super League clubs were members of that body before the Northern Union was born in 1895.

So to dispense with something that has been part of the game for so long shouldn’t be done lightly.

The decision to exclude scrums in Super League this season was taken on medical advice, with a desire not to facilitate the transmission of the Covid-19 virus.

The intention was to bring them back when the threat from the virus has been overcome.

But now it looks as though that might not happen after all.

And in order to understand that, we need to look to Australia and the NRL.

Last weekend it was the final round of matches in the NRL’s regular season.

Two of the games that had no bearing on the top eight play-off positions were played without scrums – the first time any NRL games have been played in this manner.

NRL officials are cautious about the future of scrums in that competition.

“I think there’s a general view that scrums are part of the heritage of the game,” NRL head of football Graham Annesley said.

“People have a view that scrums are not a contest and that’s fair, but they are part of the heritage of the game and it’s the only time in the game where we have seven players on seven players. This rule experiment will reduce the number of scrums and increase entertainment for fans.”

But there appears to be a growing number of Australian observers who are prepared to say that scrums have had their day.

“Rugby League scrums put themselves beyond the pale of civilisation a long time ago. They are as fondly remembered as a terrible old dictator. Their time has been and gone. Vale, loose arm. Vale, second-row feed. Vale, hooker striking prematurely. Vale, yon merry bloodbath. You will be gone for a long time before you are forgotten. Better that than being forgotten for a long time before you are gone.”

Those were the words of Malcolm Knox, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Before August we were unsure about the future of scrums in Rugby League.

But now, having seen the game in action without scrums, we have reached a conclusion.

Scrums have had their day and they should be eliminated from the game.

The next issue of League Express will be published on Sunday night online, while the print version will be in the shops from Monday. You can order a print or online subscription by going to www.totalrl.com/league-express/