Watching the rugby game between South Africa and Italy with its uncontested scrums, one realises that an entire element of the game of rugby - viz: the power and weight and struggle of the forwards - is missing. So much for South Africa choosing a potent set of forwards for this match.
Having said that, what has happened to scrums these days?
In my rugby-playing days, it was required that the scrumhalf put the ball into the scrum tunnel in a straight line, giving the hooker of the non-put-in-team a fighting chance of hooking the ball and achieving what was called a “heel against the head” - much to the delight of that team’s fans.
In those days, a penalty was awarded against the team who didn’t put a ball in straight.
Watching rugby today, it is very obvious that this rule is no longer in force, as the ball is put into a scrum right under the feet of the front row, if not the locks, leaving the opposing hooker with no chance or very little chance of actually hooking the ball.
With this in mind, what is the point of a scrum in today’s rugby? Does it serve a purpose anymore? Why not just hand the ball to the team that would have been awarded the scrum, to do whatever they want to do with it?
If there is a rugby fundi reading here, I would very much appreciate it if you could shed some light on this rather puzzling issue.
I wonder what yesterday’s great rugby players - Frik du Preez, Danie Gerber, Mannetjies Roux, Dawie de Villiers, Tommy Bedford, to name but a few - would think of the current state of the game.
Kevin Meineke, Plett
(Judging from the incredible range of mind-bogglingly knowledgeable commentary that emanates from most every Rugby World Cup-watching crowd, we’re convinced your ‘fundi’ will respond post haste, Kevin. Watch this space… Eds.)