Patrick McKendry

Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Ref boss calls for scrutiny on 'very poor' scrum feeds

Halfbacks' feeds "were very poor" in the opening full round of Super Rugby. Photo /Getty
Halfbacks' feeds "were very poor" in the opening full round of Super Rugby. Photo /Getty

Referees boss Lyndon Bray has called on Super Rugby officials to keep a stricter eye on how halfbacks are feeding scrums.

Two rounds into the competition, Bray said he thought the scrummaging was generally positive - referees have done away with the "yes, nine'' verbal instruction for halfbacks to put the ball in to promote a fairer contest - but concerns remained. In some cases halfbacks' feeds "were very poor'' and the officials turned a blind eye to it, he said.
In a question and answer session on the Sanzar website, Bray added:

"If you look at scrum as the area we're focused on with the new process, teams are now expected to provide stability having engaged [there is a bind and no 'hit']. What that means from a dominant scrum point of view is that you almost have to take some of your weight off to provide a strong platform and stability at the scrum.

"In return, we have a total expectation that the feeding team needs to be held accountable for a credible feed which forces the hooker to hook for the ball.

If they're good enough, they can feed straight and push over the ball; Argentina does that a lot at test level.

"The key fundamental principle that we've all agreed upon is that the feeding team must be forced to hook for the ball, which allows for a fairly contested scrum.

"If we allow a halfback to feed it directly under a hooker's feet into the channel, it belittles the contest of a scrum and makes it too easy for that team to clear the ball quickly and the process really becomes irrelevant.''

Bray said some halfbacks were flouting the law at the weekend, but overall the scrums were good.

"We had some excellent scrum outcomes and really good contests. Chiefs v Crusaders resulted in 94 per cent ball in, ball out; they were having a great contest. Waratahs and Force is traditionally a poor scrum game, but we saw 82 per cent ball in, ball out which was fantastic. Brumbies v Reds saw 72 per cent and Lions v Stormers 70 per cent, so they are very high figures of ball out scrum completion.''

- APNZ

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