Change on the way for the scrum?

Social media has been circulating this presentation today, titled “Scrum History, Scrum Force Project & Scrum Injuries” by Dr Martin Raftery, who is the IRB Chief Medical Officer. It is undated so I cannot claim it’s a new document, although it contains analysis following the Rugby World Cup 2011, so it’s up to date.

Some interesting facts and analysis including this rather worrying triplet:

  • Scrums per game have halved over past 20 years (Thomas 2011)
  • Scrum collapse has tripled over past 15 years (Thomas 2011)
  • Peak Engagement Forces are estimated to have doubled over past 20 years 

It also reinforces the view that I hear on a regular basis that at community levels, where the “scrum is refereed properly”, that there is less of a problem. Slide 9 notes that: “Data suggests scrum collapse is an issue at the top level of Game only”.

The penultimate slide, under the slide title “Why Investigate” says this: “Player Safety and Welfare in the scrum which is a “controllable” event.”

So what can be made of this? My interpretation, and that which I’ve seen elsewhere today would draw the conclusion that the hit – and the forces of the engagement – lead to the problems faced thereafter.  Now it’s dangerous to draw conclusions from an unannotated or context-free presentation, but you have to consider that IRB are about to come up with some big changes. Or, as some commentators put it, re-evolutions, so we go back to scrums used to be. Controlled engagement, no pushing before the ball is in, a straight put in, no collapses. Back to playing and refereeing as per the law book

Hard to argue with that!

Here’s the presentation:  Scrum_Force IRB