Rugby about to be Moore the merrier as new sequence can take bind out of seeing reset scrums.
IT'S the blight of the modern-day game. It has the likes of Brian Moore spitting feathers and has turned countless people off rugby in recent times.
We are, of course, talking about the scrum.
It's become the biggest problem area in the game, a source of huge frustration and contention.
It occupies more time than just about any other aspect of play, amid countless re-sets and collapses.
A single scrum can sometimes occupy four or five minutes, as the referee attempts in vain to bring some semblance of order to the collapsible chaos.
And, all too often, the end result is a free-kick or a penalty as the official finally loses patience.
In fact, there hardly seem to be any completed scrums in the game these days, with endless re-sets and perpetual penalties.
The whole sorry mess has seen former England and Lions hooker Moore wage a campaign to try and persuade the powers-that-be to address the problem.
And the growing consensus has been that Moore was right - something had to be done because the scrum was killing the game.
Well now, there might just be a solution at hand.
The International Rugby Board have come up with a simple, yet hopefully effective, change to the laws.
It's a subtle shift, with just one word being altered, but it could make all the difference.
We are all familiar with the current engagement sequence, which goes "crouch, touch, set".
Well, from next season, referees will have a slightly different script.
The sequence will now go "crouch, bind, set".
Rather than withdrawing their arms after the touch, props will now actually bind on their opposite number before going down into the scrum.
The referee will call "crouch" and then "bind", at which point the props must use their outside arm to bind on the opposing prop, gripping his jersey on the back or side.
They must not grip the opponent's chest, arm, sleeve or collar.
The front-rows must maintain the bind until the referee calls "set", giving the two packs the green light to engage.
The idea is to reduce the impact of the "hit" which is where most of the collapsing trouble stems from.
This is primarily aimed at improving player safety throughout the game at all levels.
But the hope is it will also make the scrum a more solid and secure platform at the elite end of the sport, where impact on engagement will be reduced by up to 25%.
Referees will be instructed to ensure the ball does not enter the tunnel unless the scrum is square and stationary, while a straight feed is to be strictly policed.
The new system was tried out at the recent IRB Pacific Rugby Cup and produced a more stable platform with fewer resets and more successful scrums.
Now it is to be trialled on a global basis from the start of next season.
It's a move supported by the WRU, as reflected by the reaction of Wales forwards Robin McBryde, who will take charge of this summer's tour of Japan.
"We welcome the positive move to tackle the scrum, as it plays a significant part in the game, and must be preserved as a safe and fair contest," said the former hooker.
"We look forward to getting to grips with the new sequence and playing our part in addressing the issues for a successful outcome."
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said the changes were about putting the player first.
"The scrum is a fundamental and dynamic part of our game," said the Frenchman.
"It is important we continue to promote the best possible player welfare standards and this trial process is about putting players first and delivering a reduction of the forces on engagement at elite level, which could have significant positive effects on long-term player welfare.
"The global implementation of this trial is a positive step, which will be subject to continual monitoring and evaluation.
"I would like to thank all Unions for their support and enthusiasm throughout this process.
"The implementation of the revised sequence alone is not about overcoming all the challenges of the elite scrum, but it is a forward step.
"There is a collective responsibility for coaches, players and administrators to make the scrum a positive, fair and, above all, safe contest. Match officials will be stricter when refereeing the existing law."
International Rugby Players' Association executive director Rob Nichol said: "It is our hope that through this trial, players and officials are able to implement the new sequence in a manner that maintains the scrum as a contest and central feature of the game, delivers on improved short and long-term player safety and welfare objectives and goes some way towards eliminating the frustrations associated with resets. "We appreciate the work undertaken by all involved to get the project to this stage."
Chairman of the IRB match officials selection panel and interim chairman of the IRB rugby committee John Jeffrey said: "There is a collective responsibility to ensure the scrums are improved at elite level. Everyone must play their part and the referees are very much part of the solution."
IRB chief medical officer Dr Martin Raftery added: "Reducing the compression forces at the scrum by some 25% is likely to have a positive impact on injury rates at the top level of the game where forces are highest.
"This trial has been aimed at enhancing the long-term welfare of our players by mitigating the possible degenerative symptoms that can occur post-career. It is a logical and proactive step in improving player welfare."
Wales forwards coach Robin McBryde is delighted steps are being taken to improve the scrum
| The collapsed scrum has become a familiar, and depressing sight 2003. Below, a scrum collapses during an Australia versus England on the rugby field. Above, a scrum collapses during a clash between Wales and the Wallabies in clash in 2010