Usually, a scrum occurs after a knock-on, a forward pass, a lineout throw that is not straight, when the ball gets stuck in a ruck or maul, or as the result of a free kick or penalty.
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In a scrum, eight players from either side bind together in the correct formation with three front row players: two props and a hooker, two second rows, two flankers, and a number 8.
The referee indicates where the scrum will take place by making a line with his foot across the pitch and both sides bind either side of this mark facing squarely forward. A player’s front row should be no more than arms length from his or her own teammates once they are bound together.
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Rugby scrum calls ‘Crouch, Bind, Set’
When the referee says ‘crouch,’ the front row players must crouch, but their heads and shoulders cannot go below their hips.
Each head will slot to the left of their opponents in the front row opposite them, positioning them accordingly ready to do this, but not yet making contact.
Once the referee says bind, the props bind on the opposition prop’s upper arm with their outside free arm, usually by grasping the jersey in some manner. This bind should remain firm throughout the scrum.
After the referee calls ‘engage’, the front row thrusts their heads horizontally so that they interlock with the opposition’s front row.
While playing, all players must remain bound to the scrum; they may push forward directly without trying to ‘wheel’ the scrum. They should not intentionally attempt to collapse the scrum by pulling it down, and they should not allow their heads to pop out of the scrum because they will be penalized.
It is normal for the scrum-half to put the ball in from the left-hand side of the scrum. They may place their left foot at the middle of the scrum, under the noses of their own front row.
To ‘strike’ for the ball, the hooker can use either foot’s heel, but they cannot use both feet at once.
If the scrum moves forward or backwards after the ball reaches the number 8, the scrum may keep the ball in the scrum with their feet, but if it remains stationary for 5 seconds, then the scrum must use the ball, either by passing it away, by picking it up from the number 8, or by kicking it from the scrum half.
Does the ball have to go in straight in a scrum?
While the scrum half must throw the ball into the scrum straight, the ball does not necessarily need to be placed straight down the middle line of the scrum. This is because they can stand with one shoulder aligned to the middle line of the scrum, which means they will put the ball in slightly on their own team’s side but still straight.
To be fair, scrum halves normally put the ball in at an angle towards their own side. They do not penalize non-straight ‘feeds’ or ‘put-ins’ to allow the game to flow.
Referees who allow one side to put the ball in not straight and the other not straight start to annoy fans.
How many scrums per game are there?
As a result of various law changes introduced by World Rugby to increase ball in play time and entertainment value for fans, there were on average 14 scrums per game in the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
|Scrum per game
|Lineouts per game
|Lineout win %
|Ball in play time