Scrums are an important part of rugby. They occur multiple times a game for a variety of reasons. They can help teams restart play after a stoppage and can be used to gain territory through their backs. Let's learn about them!
A scrum can be awarded when there is a stoppage of the game. It can be given for an infringement of the rules or when rucks or mauls result in the ball being unplayable by a team's player.
If an infringement such as a forward pass, knock on or offside is given by the referee, the team awarded a penalty (the team that didn't commit the penalty) can choose scrum. If a team is in their own territory and in need of keeping the ball in play, they may choose a scrum.
Once a scrum is opted for, each team will form their scrum pack from the forwards they currently have on the field.
The scrum pack is made up of:
The hooker and the two props make up the front row of the scrum. The hooker's responsibility is to hook the ball back, placed into the scrum by the scrum-half. The props help bind the hooker to the rest of the scrum pack and support their weight to let the hooker do their job.
The second row is made up of two locks. Their purpose is to connect the front row to the back row and anchor the weight of the scrum pack. They can also help push once the opposing scrum packs try to push.
The back row is, therefore, the two flankers and the number eight. The back row collectively are responsible for most of the pushing as they can set themselves and their weight from the back more easily.
The flankers will line up somewhere between the back and can easily peel off once the ball is back in open play to help support any attack or defense after. The number eight's responsibility mainly lies in keeping the scrum balanced and pushing.
Once the scrum pack has been bound together, the scrum itself will start. The referee will command the scrum to start through three calls for actions:
When the referee calls crouch, the two scrum packs get into position to lock together. All members of the scrum pack at this point should be low to the ground.
When the referee calls bind, the two packs first rows will bind to each other ready to begin pushing. But at this point, they are not allowed to begin pushing.
When the referee calls set, the scrum packs can crash into each other and try to move each other off the ball. The ball can be put in after this happens as long as the scrum doesn't collapse.
If the push results in a player or players ending up in awkward positions, the referee can call for a collapsed scrum. If the collapse is deemed intentional by a team or player, it can result in a penalty for the non-penalized team.
If the scrum isn't collapsed, the team whose scrum it is will have their scrum half put the ball into the scrum. Most of the time, whichever team has been awarded the scrum will retain possession. This is because the hooker and scrum-half are usually in sync.
Once the ball has been put into the scrum, the scrum-half will go to the back of the pack and will attempt to recover the ball. They can then pass it into play.
The scrum gives an advantage to teams attacking as it concentrates all the forwards in one area of the field, meaning backs can create meaningful attacks quickly after a scrum has taken place.