A tale of two scrums
ANALYSIS: There was a marked difference in what happened at the scrums in the first two quarterfinals of the 2019 World Cup.
The matches were Australia vs England and Ireland vs New Zealand. Both of them were runaway victories – 40-16 and 46-14. But it is the difference between the scrumming in the two matches which was remarkable.
In the match between Australia and England, there were 13 scrums. The ball emerged directly from two of them.
In the match between New Zealand and Ireland, there were 14 scrums, the ball emerged directly from 12 of them.
This difference makes a big difference to the tempo of the game for one thing.
In the Australia versus England, match, the scrums collapsed 13 times. There were nine resets, two free-kicks and two penalties.
In the Ireland versus New Zealand match, NO scrum collapsed, NO scrum was reset, and there was one free-kick and one penalty.
There is no fun at all in watching a scrum reset. One scrum took over four minutes to finish. That is five percent of the match with nothing worthwhile happening.
Of course, it is primarily the 16 players who are responsible for how a scrum happens.
It also may be something to do with the manner in which the referee “manages” the scrum.
In the second match, the referee kept a close eye on the scrum. He was there as he gave his three calls to form the scrum – crouch, bind, set.
He also stayed close to the scrum, giving the players clear, brief instructions while the scrum was in progress. His manner suggested helpfulness rather than policing.
The referee may well have had something to do with the success of the scrumming in Tokyo on Saturday.