Following an article by Graham Jenkins (04/09/2013) in  Link below


Referees admitting that are incorrect? Well this is got to be the best public confession made since Pontius Pilatus carried out Jesus’ execution! May be we are into some “culture change” I’d love that. However, I’m of the persuasion that it should not be left up to the Refs to revive the scrum. The Refs’ job is to apply the Law book! Most of the problems and modifications are TECHNICAL and that’s why it makes some sense (to a point) when some people say: “A referee that has not played in the front row has less chances of understanding all the nuances”!

NO, the set piece is not a farce, but the personnel in charge of administering it, looking after it, the keepers ARE! In this case is not the pit-bull the responsible one but the owner! I believe the testing trials were not extensive enough and the protagonists of those trials were substandard! (they exhibited very poor technique).

Have recently told Brian Moore through an article that appeared in The Telegraph that contrary to his beliefs and public opinions, I’m certain that WE HAVE NOT EXHAUSTED ALL AVENUES IN FINDING THE NEEDED SOLUTIONS!

It is very easy to focus on THE HIT, THE PLAYERS, COACHES and other excuses as “scapegoats” for the many other important issues that went wrong and are not being addressed! I’d be happy to go in detail with the Chairman of the Scrum Steering Group.

This is the best example of How Wrong Things Are? In my 42 years of rugby I know by heart that the Supreme Entity in Control is THE LAW. And we human beings are the servants of it. Now again we hear “the referees” have taken control of the situation? They are the group of rugby people that has been tinkering with the scrum engagement for good part of 10 years.

From the brilliant C-T-P-E to C-T-E to C-B-S! – If you need to change the law 3 times in 10 years this means you never got it down pat. Coaches “dread” having to drop players too quickly because there is “the Damocles sword” over their head (an admission of failure, by the way this is not exclusive of rugby, other sports and corporate life is filled out with examples of perpetuation for fear of admitting inadequacy. In a nutshell, Got to get it right and bite the bullet and if we did neither well, the door is the most honourable option!

This smacks of a PR exercise massaging egos in wealthy clubs. The decisions have already been made by the SSG Chaired by Graham Mourie for 2 ½ years and john Jeffrey that has taken it over 6 months ago!

Because this is not a “normal law change” rather exceptional I suggest and at the same time strongly recommend that evaluations on progress be done 4 monthly. This is the livelihood of rugby and if the IRB has already spent £500.000.- over 3 years. We might be well served if they bite the bullet and spend another £200.000.- fine tuning it in the next 24 months. Any large organization that has a “substantial problem surrounded of controversy would set up an ongoing “Scrum Law Progress Monitoring Committee” in order to stay on top of it. (Priority No 1) – I find hard to believe that 16 superbly trained professional gladiators about to enter WAR with the opposition are asked by the referee “Stay Balanced”? How will the referee know if a player is or is not BALANCED x 3 stages x 16 = 48 chances of margin of error. Incidentally with C-T-P-E was 16 x 4 = 64 combined steps that need to be coordinated.

Have proposed in The ART of SCRUMMAGING ( published August 2012, that the ideal engagement sequence is: CROUCH and PACK equates 16 x 2 = 32 chances of getting it wrong! (much better odds than 48, also faster to complete and less details to police, referee, judge, penalize!). A very compelling argument, to me at the very least!

Here is where the FARCE EXIST! Only the coach should be saying to his charges stay balanced or unbalanced because this is a “TACTICAL DECISION” (whether legal or illegal). I can not understand this, REFEREES are flat out inundated with laws and requirements and they keep filling up their back pack with “duties”. What the IRB and some Professional Law Makers (not the referees) must do is: a) To review the Law thoroughly in accordance to 21st century standards; and b) Review Referees practices, mannerisms and directions given to them in the last 18 years since the beginning of professional rugby. Thus, every referee’s involvement that corresponds to TACTICS should be abandoned and decisions left to players and coaches. NOW if the referees, the IRB and the Law don’t like what they see? PENALTY Sir! Repeated infringements: Yellow Card! – And once more after that OFF!

This is what I refer to when I’m saying Referees should be given more DISCRETION to prioritise OUTCOMES over PROCESS and must be wholeheartedly supported by their Union when a players is sent off. To complement this disciplinary action, I feel that Lawyers, QC’s and suspended players should not be given “a free fried” on rugby administration and its public. TOUGH LAW IS A FAIR LAW! Please don’t tell me that these days LOSS of INCOME is a major factor in those decisions?

I applaud what Wayne Barnes just said on behalf of himself and the IRB, however am still a bit skeptical about their ability to properly control this? By the way, there is no HIT here, it can’t be, it has been eradicated by merits of having both front rows “ear to ear” so….don’t even mention it because it will not resurrect. And the ball will go in the middle, wont’ it? And ALL the scrums will be SQUARE and STATIONERY? Promise me? Good, because we have been told this will be very successful change, the best and the last (according to Brian Moore) so you will have no problems…..

Wayne, you are not policing the scrum you are adjudicating ball to one team or the other (Judges do that). This is the best chance the IRB has to succeed! – Here is another technical point that I feel should be implemented: The referee should give a “hand signal” to No 9 (no talk please, less talk is Moore! LOL). Just the hand or the arm up as if you are starting a foot race. Therefore the only opposition players that would be alerted of the signal are No 9 and the particular flanker! (very easy done).

I’m absolutely positive of that because the IRB in an excellent move has taken away “the gamesmanship within the game: THE HIT”. Thus, by eliminating the mechanical stratagem they have also neutralized the negative attitude in players and coaches. We certainly must remain alert because human nature will conduct and deviate frustration beyond the boundaries of common sense, audacity and legality!

Good Communication, ongoing Reviews and Education are the anesthetics needed for those “teething problems” and for a long term peace with the scrum and May God Save The Scrum!

I’d like to commend every one that has stepped into the ring to contribute to this discussion, debate, at times complaints but overall I feel there is plenty of light being shed over “THE DARK CORNERS” of the scrum. What a silly explanation for ignorance and scrum stigma!

Best regards,
Enrique TOPO Rodriguez.                                                                                                                                                                    








About toporod

Triple Rugby Union International (1977-1991) The ART of SCRUMMAGING - 2013 Gold Medal Winning Author - [IPPY] - 2014 Silver Medal Winner [eLit Awards] - Enthusiastic writer on Rugby and Bipolar Disorders - International Rugby Consultant and Public Speaker -
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