Planet Rugby

Kirwan wants immediate scrum changes

25th March 2014 06:58

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John Kirwan Blues rugby boss SR 2014

Sir John Kirwan: Has called for a trial law change

Blues boss Sir John Kirwan believes SANZAR and the IRB must come up with an immediate plan to sort out rugby's scrum problems.

Kirwan has voiced his opinion about the game's scrum issues on several occasions this season but has now taken his viewpoint to another level by calling for an immediate change to the way the set-piece is officiated and wants a trial law change mid-competition.

"I know what needs to happen, it's pretty easy," he told Fairfax Media ahead of his side's clash with the Highlanders in Auckland on Saturday.

"Above us they need to make a decision and let the half-back put the ball in without the call from the ref. It's as simple as that, clean the game up and we'd be fine.

"I think the IRB and SANZAR need to make that decision, and I'm sure [Highlanders coach] Jamie [Joseph] and I would be quite happy to trial it this week if they want. Something needs to be done, and that's it."

The scrum continues to cause problems in the game despite a subtle change to the laws this season where referees tell scrum-halves when to feed a set-piece, instead of making the call aloud, as was previously the case.

But this alteration has not gone as far as the IRB's scrum law recommendation panel urged and the scrum has become a mess as attacking teams still battle to clear clean ball from their own put-ins.

The amount of clean play off scrums in Super Rugby in 2014 is still at a low level and Kirwan feels the difficulties at the set-piece are a big reason why so many referees have delivered below-par performances.

SANZAR Game Manager Lyndon Bray recently relieved Stuart Berry, Lourens van der Merwe, Francisco Pastrana and Angus Gardner of duty this week due to poor performances.

"I know referees are probably the focus this week, and a few guys have been dropped," said Kirwan.

"That's a consequence of what's happening because they have been concerned so much on what's happening at the scrum instead of the full game.

"If you just let the half-backs call them, a lot of the problems will be resolved, then the referee can stand back and have a look at the two or three things he needs to control.

"At the moment the referee is up so close to a scrum [his] vision is difficult. The solution is simple - we just need to have the courage to change mid-season."

Kirwan emphasised, however, that he is against any efforts to de-power the scrum, like in rugby league.

"Our game is great because we've got the giraffes, we've got the front-rowers, and we've got the half-backs," he added.

"The scrum is a great part of this game, but we just need to let the advantage go to the team that's putting it in. Then if you're good enough, push us off it when we've put the ball in.

"That's the little advantage you have knowing when the ball going in, But you've still got a couple of tons of angry men trying to push each other off the ball, so leave it as a fair contest.

"It's not just our problem, it's the game's problem at the moment. If we can try that simple thing it will clean everything up."

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