From Rugby World reader Richard Grainger
The main problem with last weekend’s Six Nations’ openers, which – France V Scotland apart – failed to reach great heights, is the game itself. Allow me to be direct: LET’S GET RID OF SCRUMS.
Scrum are an anachronism; they are good for the game in the same way that trenches, in 1916, were good for warfare, and both serve the same purpose: to marshal an immobile and archaic collection of endomorphic participants in one place so that those with more speed and skill can attack in another.
Now, before you throw up your arms and say that they are essential to contest the re-starting play after a technical infringement, let me tell you – they are not. Sergio Parisse, the hugely talented Italian No 8, received virtually every put-in directly to his feet last Saturday. How on earth can you contest that? There is often more than ten minutes wasted on scrums; that’s an eighth of the game, for goodness sake. Most of this time is consumed by having the things re-set as front rows collapse and rip up the playing surface.
Let me offer you an alternative scenario for re-starts: convene an “in-field” lineout in place of a scrum. Lineouts are still contested in the game of Rugby Union, crooked throws are generally punished and, best of all, there is a 20 metre channel separating both sets of backs. Simply add two further dotted lines to the each side of the pitch, five metres in-field from the fifteen metre line, and throw in from the fifteen. The attacking backline is thereby presented with a unique opportunity to attack without forwards cluttering up valuable space and there is now a blind side which would further increase their options. It would also reduce the tedious grunt of “pick and drive” which advances play about as far as the Allies went in four years on the Western Front.
Of course there is a problem with all of this: there will be no more props. And so, a game wherein there is a role for players of all shapes and sizes will, alas, no longer exist. The short, tubby boys who morphed into short, tubby men and have kidded us for centuries that there is something intrinsically good in the “black art” of making the opposition’s scrum collapse will be, forever, side-lined.
But, then again, so was trench warfare.