Laws Guide

Throughout the season on this page we will feature a guide to the Laws of Rugby Union, primarily aimed at newcomers to the game and those spectators that are regularly baffled by things that happen of the field and the decisions of the referee. Previous articles can be accessed by clicking on the buttons to the left. 

Scrum – new Law effective from 1st January 2007

The new Law to be applied for the scrum engagement will be:

The referee will call “Crouch” then “Touch”. The front rows crouch and using their outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing props outside shoulder. The props will then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “Pause”. Following a pause the referee will then call “Engage”.

From the Law change it is evident we now have four distinct and separate instructions. Referees should ensure they do not start the engagement process until both scrums are stationary and balanced. The scrums MUST remain stationary throughout the four instructions, if the scrum becomes unstable at any stage during the sequence the referee shall blow his whistle and ask the front rows to stand and restart the process, unless the referee deems one side has wilfully offended, in which case they will be penalised.

Before commencing the sequence the referee shall mark with his foot the place where the scrum is to be formed.

The referee shall not call crouch immediately but wait to witness how both scrums form up, we know from experience some sides will go to a full crouch early, it is at this stage the referee will call CROUCH. If a side on the referees instruction fail to crouch in a horizontal position that side renders themselves liable to penalty.

On the call of the referee, not before, all four props using their outside arms shall touch the point of the outside shoulder of their opposing prop before withdrawing their arms.
The touch sequence is not a race, the referee will not move onto the next instruction until satisfied all four props have adhered to the Touch sequence. Props who fail or refuse to touch in the agreed manner render themselves liable to penalty. Touch Judges are reminded they have a responsibility to advice the referee of any player failing to comply with the instruction.

Players have to remain stationary and balanced throughout this element of the sequence, referees will penalise players who he believes wilfully destabilised the scrum, thus slowing down the process.

The final phase of the sequence, the instruction for the players to come together, should players refuse to engage or engage before the instruction they will render themselves liable to penalty.