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Refs to get tougher over scrums

England and France pack down
Scrums can now take up 25% of matches at the highest level

The International Rugby Board has announced a crackdown on scrum infringements and high tackles after a meeting of the world's top referees.

IRB statistics show international matches now average 18 collapsed or reset scrums.

Average match time consumed by the scrum is currently 16% but can climb as high as 25% in some cases.

Referees will now penalise poor binding techniques and front-rows who fail to comply with the engagement sequence.

The sport's governing body is eager to reduce such high percentages, particularly because of the difficulties of explaining to fans why delays are occurring in what is an extremely complex area of the game.

"The scrum is integral to the game," said IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset.

"The IRB's high performance referees have agreed to be extra vigilant regarding the area of scrum resets.

"There is an obligation for referees and players to ensure that this critical area is played in accordance with law.


"Addressing these key elements of scrum officiating will assist with reducing the number of resets or collapses."

The annual IRB High Performance Referee Conference, held in London, also laid out plans to stamp out high tackles in international matches.

The issue was again highlighted by a dangerous tackle by Dan Carter on Wales scrum-half Martin Roberts last week that led to the All Black being handed a one-week ban.

"The promotion of player welfare is of paramount importance," said Lapasset.

"The referees have been reminded of their obligation to penalise clear and obvious offences."

The IRB also insisted officials were committed to stricter vigilance of players being offside from kicks, illegal scrum feeds and obstructions at the formation of the maul.

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see also
Carter given one-match suspension
10 Nov 09 |  Welsh
New scrummaging law takes force
01 Jan 07 |  Laws & Equipment

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