Rugby Explained: The Scrum

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Many famous rugby teams have been renowned for the strength of their scrum, and their ability to win games thanks to their superiority in this aspect of the game. 

Also known as the “scrummage”, the scrum is one of the most technical elements of rugby that is not fully understood by many. In this blog post we will look to explain the rules of the scrum as clearly as possible, so that next time you are spectating a match, you have a better idea of what is going on.


Basic Rules of the Scrum

Some of the fundamental aspects and rules of the scrum are listed below:

The image below shows a scrum during a Six Nations match between Wales (red) and Ireland (green). The scrum has been awarded to Ireland, and their scrum half is about to feed the ball into the scrum, towards the hooker:

 

Ireland vs Wales scrum seen from above

 

Rugby Union rules allow both teams to attempt to push or drive the opposition backwards, so they win possession of the ball. This is what makes scrums amazing to watch and also pretty dangerous.

Below is an example of an old-style scrum. The players would collide at great speeds, which looked great for the spectator but ultimately was outlawed as it put too much strain on the forwards.

 

Old style scrum

 

With rugby union governing bodies trying to decrease the injury rate during the scrum, changes had to be made. As of the 2013/14 rugby season, players must now follow a set of orders from the ref that includes their shoulders touching and a pause to prove the players are steady before they engage with force.

 

Scrum collapsing

 

The new method of starting a scrum reduces the impact on players and also means the scrum is less likely to collapse. Statistics show that injuries received during scrums have been dramatically reduced thanks to the changes made to this process of engagement.  But as you can see from how that scrum collapses in the image above, the scrum is still pretty rough and just the strength of the players alone can force it to tumble.

 

If you are a rugby player looking to increase your strength and power in the scrum, then building lower body strength and overall muscle mass is a great place to start. It’s fair to say that the vast majority of professional rugby forwards spend a large amount of time building power using equipment such as squat racks and Olympic barbells.

 

 By: Andrew Griffiths

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