Explained: The Chiefs scrum controversy

New footage from last weekend's controversial Chiefs-Hurricanes Super Rugby match has emerged and is set to fuel claims Dave Rennie's team manipulated the game's rules to ensure depowered scrums at a critical point of the game.

The match, won 28-27 by the Chiefs, ended with "Golden Oldies" scrums, negating the Hurricanes' clear advantage in that area.

The New Zealand Herald has obtained new footage of the moments which led to referee Craig Joubert enforcing de-powered scrums for the final five minutes of the match and the Chiefs playing out the game with 14 men.

The footage is from a camera angle not shown during Sky's live broadcast.

The incident created immediate debate and today former All Black prop Craig Dowd wrote an ESPN column headlined "Scrum gamesmanship not a great look for rugby".

Like several observers, Dowd questioned the Chiefs' tactics.

Listen: Kent Johns interviews Craig Dowd:

"To pull off your front-rowers and play to the letter of the law; you would have to say that the Chiefs management had control of the outcome of the game," he wrote. "It opens up the debate about how far coaches can go and how much involvement they can have.

"Will those injured props be out training this week and available for next weekend? I could almost guarantee they will be.

"It is a bit of a grey area and leaves itself open to underhanded tactics."

The footage obtained by the Herald begins with a lineout won by the Hurricanes who then power towards the Chiefs' 22 metre line with the game in the balance.

The match is stopped due to Chiefs pivot Aaron Cruden receiving a head wound. Three Chiefs on-field personnel came onto the ground and one goes straight to replacement prop Siate Tokolahi who then sits down.

After several minutes, Tokolahi is eventually replaced, limping off with his arm around a trainer.

That forced Joubert to issue instructions that scrums would be depowered for the rest of the match, taking away a key advantage the powerful Hurricanes pack had established at scrum-time.

At the time of the incident, Hurricanes and All Blacks hooker Dane Coles complained to Joubert about the "amazing coincidence" of Tokolahi's injury after "the way we dominated their scrum".

Prior to the trainer talking to Tokolahi, the prop had not signalled that he needed any assistance and appeared to be waiting for the game to start again after Cruden was attended to. He had jogged from the lineout to the breakdown.But after being approached by the trainer, he went down on his haunches. The trainer then went to assist Cruden. Tokolahi stood up but a trainer again approached him and he went down again.

There is no audio available which reveals the conversation between the prop and the trainers.

While that unfolded, the Chiefs team manager on the sidelines engaged with the sideline match manager and Joubert came to the sideline.

Following a discussion with the match manager, Joubert, consistent with international rules, enforced depowered scrums.

The Chiefs, as is their right under scrum safety rules, declared that Siegfried Fisiihoi - who came on to the field apparently ready to play - was not proficient enough as a tighthead prop to play at Super Rugby level. That meant he had to leave the field, reducing the Chiefs to 14 men but negating the Hurricanes' clear advantage at scrum time.

The Chiefs starting tighthead prop Atunaisa Moli had left the field late in the first half with an injury and was replaced by Tokolahi.

The new footage will fuel critics' claims that the Chiefs manipulated the rules to their advantage. Fisiihoi, a converted No. 8, has played as a tighthead for Bay of Plenty in NPC rugby.

But Rennie suggested to Radio Sport earlier this week that Fisiihoi was not up to the jump in standard, saying he had been "hammered" when trying out as a tighthead scrummager at Chiefs trainings.

Asked about Tokolahi's injury, Rennie described it as "a little bit of a twinge in his back".

- NZ Herald

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