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VIDEO: The 'set-piece coach' that will solve URC refereeing challenges

United Rugby Championship Head of Referees Tappe Henning believes set pieces remain the biggest challenge for match officials.


Those are amongst the key areas for Italy’s Andrea Piardi and his match officials team – Frank Murphy (Ireland) and Craig Evans (Wales) as assistant referees, along with TMO Matteo Liperini (Italy) – to focus on in the tournament decider in Pretoria on Saturday, where the Bulls host Glasgow Warriors.

No doubt the set pieces – as they are in all play-off matches – will hold the key and be the most hotly contested aspects of the game.

That is why the URC, under the guidance of their South African boss, Henning, have brought in some experts to help match officials handle the biggest challenges in the game.

“We have employed a set-piece coach to help our referees understand and interpret accurately what they are looking at,” Henning said in a media round table.

“The scrum is a difficult part of the game,” the URC match official boss said, adding: “Technically it is very, very difficult [to referee].


“For most referees, who did not play in the front row, they need to understand what they are looking at and make accurate decisions around that.

“We have brought in Stevie Scott on board,” he said of the 11-times capped former Scotland hooker.

“He is working with our referees to help them understand how the mechanics and pressures work in the scrum.”

The 49-year-old, with an extensive coaching CV, referees need to understand shoulders and elbows go down, when angles change and hips come out.

(WATCH as URC Head of Referees Tappe Henning talks about the key areas for match officials to focus on at Loftus on Saturday….)

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“That is a part of the game we are working on,” he said, adding that it will remain a big work-on.

Another aspect of the game that is a major focus for URC match officials is the tackle area.

“It is an area where things happen at pace and several things happen at the same time.

“There is the tackler, the ball carrier, arriving players from all directions.

“To make sense out of that is a big challenge.”

Those – scrums and tackle area – deliver the most penalties in a game, with 44 percent of the game’s penalties coming at the breakdown.

“Those are the two key areas we work hard on,” Henning said.

Scott, capped 11 times by Scotland as a hooker, joined the URC from Bath – where he was the English Premiership team’s scrum coach.

He boasts a very impressive playing CV.

Having been born in Galashiels, he then went on to represent Melrose and Gala. Following Gala, he signed his first professional deal for Edinburgh Reivers, where he made an impressive 99 appearances.

After a glittering playing career, Scott decided to move into coaching – starting at Selkirk before spending three years at the Scotland Rugby Union Academy.

Sale Sharks then came calling in 2010, where he stayed for two years before he made the step up to international coaching with the Scottish national side in 2013 as an assistant coach.

In July 2019, he was named London Scottish’s forwards coach and moved to Bath in 2023.



In this episode of Walk the Talk, Jim Hamilton chats with double World Cup winner Damian de Allende about all things Springbok rugby, including RWC2023 and the upcoming Ireland series. Watch now for free on RugbyPass TV

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