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Uncontested Scrums
December 2017

Uncontested scrums for matches that involve 23 players in a squad

Some issues regarding the management of front row replacements and uncontested scrums have occurred recently. The law text and examples below are written to reinforce the application of current law:

3.6 Uncontested scrums


(a) Scrums will become uncontested if either team cannot field a suitably trained front row or if the referee so orders.

(b) Unions/match organisers may determine whether or not a game may start or continue with uncontested scrums.

(c) When a front row player leaves the playing area, whether through injury or temporary or permanent suspension, the referee will enquire at that time whether the team can continue with contested scrums. If the referee is informed that the team will not be able to contest the scrum then the referee will order uncontested scrums. If the player returns or another front row player comes on then contested scrums may resume.

(d) In a squad of 23 players, or at the discretion of the Union/match organiser, a player whose departure has caused the referee to order uncontested scrums cannot be replaced.

(e) If they are available, a team must have three front row players in the front row at all times. In an uncontested scrum, only when there is no available front row replacement or substitute is any other player permitted to play in the front row.

(f) If, as a result of a front row player being temporarily suspended, another player has to be nominated by the team to leave the playing area to enable an available front row player to come on, the nominated player may not return until the period of suspension ends.

(g) If, as a result of a front row player being sent off, another player has to be nominated by the team to leave the playing area to enable an available front row player to come on, the nominated player may act as a replacement/substitute.

LAW AMENDMENT TRIAL

(h) Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.

Scenario 1.

During the match a team replaced both their props through injury. The replacement TH gets injured.

  1. If the team cannot field a suitably trained front row uncontested scrums must be ordered. The injured TH player cannot be replaced. The team lose a player.
  2. The remaining front row substitutes (hooker/LH) must be used in the front row of the uncontested scrums and another player must be nominated to leave the field.
  3. The team plays with 14 players until the end of the game.
  4. Both teams must form with eight players in the scrum.

Scenario 2.

During the match a team replaced both their props through injury. The replacement TH is temporary suspended (Y/C). At the next scrum awarded in the match the following applies:

  1. If the team cannot field a suitably trained front row uncontested scrums must be ordered. The temporary suspended TH player cannot be replaced.
  2. The temporary suspended TH caused uncontested scrums to be ordered therefore the team lose a player. The team must nominate a player to leave the field.
  3. The remaining substitute (hooker) must be used in the front row of the uncontested scrums and another player must be nominated to leave the field to allow the hooker to come on to the field to play.
  4. The team plays with 13 players for the remainder of the temporary suspension time of the TH.
  5. Both teams must form uncontested scrums with eight players in the scrum.
  6. At the end of the TH temporary suspension time the replacement hooker must leave the field.
  7. The TH and the two nominated players must return to the field to play.
  8. The game continues with contested scrums.

Scenario 3.

During the match a team replaced both their props through injury. The replacement TH is permanently suspended (R/C). At the next scrum awarded in the match the following applies:

  1. If the team cannot field a suitable front row uncontested scrums must be ordered. The permanently suspended TH player cannot be replaced.
  2. The permanent suspended TH caused uncontested scrums to be ordered therefore the team lose a player. The team must nominate a player to leave the field.
  3. The remaining substitute (hooker) must be used in the front row of the uncontested scrums. Another player must be nominated to leave the field to allow the hooker to come on to the field to play.
  4. The team plays with 13 players for the remainder of the match.
  5. Both teams must form with eight players in the scrum.

Scenario 4.

During the match a team replaced a prop (LH) and the hooker through injury. The TH prop is called from the field for a HIA. The TH prop is temporarily replaced by the remaining substitution TH prop. The temporary replacement TH prop gets injured before the TH prop (HIA) is cleared to play. The following applies:

  1. The team cannot field a suitably trained front row and does not have any front row players left that can play in the match. Uncontested scrums must be ordered.
  2. The injured TH prop can be temporarily replaced by any available player - the uncontested scrums is caused by the TH prop that was called for HIA. The team does not lose a player.
  3. If the TH prop is cleared to play within the allowed time the player must return to the field of play immediately and replace the temporary replacement.
  4. The game continues with contested scrums.
  5. Both teams must form with eight players in the scrum.

The above also applies in the case of a blood injury.

Comments:

  1. The front row tactical substitutions during the match does not influence the application of the uncontested scrum laws at the time uncontested scrums are ordered.
  2. Front row players who are temporary substitutions in the match and whom are temporarily suspended or permanently suspended does not change or influence the application of the uncontested scrum laws at the time when uncontested scrums are ordered.
  3. When a player is tactically replaced, and subsequently develops an injury, that change must be communicated to the 4/5 at that time, having been verified by the independent match doctor, where one is appointed.
  4. It is of high importance that the movement of players during the match are meticulously monitored and the reasons for changes properly documented with all relevant detail.
  5. It is advised that a no 6 official should be considered to specifically fulfil the role of notational analyst to document all information in this regard.