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19 Scrum


    The purpose of a scrum is to restart play with a contest for possession after a minor infringement or stoppage.

  1. Where the game is restarted with a scrum and which team throws in is determined as follows:
  2. Infringement / stoppageLocation of scrumWho throws in
    A knock-on or throw forward, apart from at a lineout.In the scrum zone at the point closest to the place of infringement.The non-offending team.
    A knock-on or throw forward at a lineout; incorrect throw at a lineout; incorrect quick throw.15 metres in from the mark of touch.The non-offending team.
    Offside in open play (scrum option).In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the offending team last played the ball.The non-offending team.
    A penalty or free-kick (scrum option).In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the infringement took place.The non-offending team.
    The ball is taken into in-goal by the defending team and made dead.In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the ball was made dead.The attacking team.
    An unplayable tackle or ruck.In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the tackle or ruck took place.The team last moving forward. If neither team was moving forward, the attacking team.
    A maul that ends unsuccessfully.In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the maul ended.The team not in possession at the start of the maul. If the referee cannot decide which team had possession, the team moving forward before the maul stopped. If neither team was moving forward, the attacking team.
    An unplayable maul after kick in open play.In the scrum zone at the point nearest to place of maul.The team in possession at the start of the maul.
    An incorrect kick-off or restart kick (scrum option).At the middle point of the half-way line or 22-metre line if the restart kick was a 22 drop-out.The non-kicking team.
    Failure to “use it” at scrum, ruck or maul.In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the scrum, ruck or maul took place.The team not in possession.
    The ball or ball-carrier touches the referee and either team gains an advantage.In the scrum zone at the point closest to the incident.The team that last played the ball.
    Stoppage due to injury.In the scrum zone at the point where the ball was last played.The team last in possession.
    Reset scrum – no infringement.Where the original scrum took place.The team originally awarded the scrum.
    A penalty attempt at goal not taken within the time limit.In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the penalty was awarded.The non-offending team.
    A player unable to take a free-kick after a mark within one minute.In the scrum zone at the point closest to where the free-kick was awarded.Team of player who was awarded the free-kick.
    The referee awards a scrum for any other reason not covered in law.In the scrum zone at the point closest to the place of stoppage.The team that was last moving forward or, if neither team was moving forward, the attacking team.

    Forming a scrum

  3. A scrum is formed in the scrum zone at a mark indicated by the referee.
  4. The referee makes the mark to create the middle line of the scrum, which runs parallel to the goal lines.
  5. Teams must be ready to form the scrum within 30 seconds of the mark being made. Sanction: Free-kick.
  6. When both teams have 15 players, eight players from each team bind together in formation as outlined in the diagram. Each team must have two props and one hooker in the front row and two locks in the second row. Three back-row players from each team complete the scrum. Sanction: Penalty.
  7. When a team is reduced to fewer than 15 for any reason, then the number of players in each team in the scrum may be similarly reduced. Where a permitted reduction is made by one team, there is no requirement for the other team to make a similar reduction. However, a team must not have fewer than five players in the scrum.
  8. The players in the scrum bind in the following way:
    1. The props bind to the hooker.
    2. The hooker binds with both arms. This can be either over or under the arms of the props.
    3. The locks bind with the props immediately in front of them and with each other.
    4. All other players in the scrum bind on a lock’s body with at least one arm.
    5. Sanction: Penalty.
  9. The two groups face each other, either side of and parallel to the middle line.
  10. The two front rows stand not more than an arm’s length apart with the hookers at the mark.
  11. Engagement

  12. When both sides are square, stable and stationary, the referee calls “crouch”.
    1. The front-rows then adopt a crouched position if they have not already done so. Their heads and shoulders are no lower than their hips, a position that is maintained for the duration of the scrum.
    2. The front-rows crouch with their heads to the left of their immediate opponents’, so that no player’s head is touching the neck or shoulders of an opponent.
    3. Sanction: Free-kick.
  13. When both sides are square, stable and stationary, the referee calls “bind”.
    1. Each loose-head prop binds by placing the left arm inside the right arm of the opposing tight-head prop.
    2. Each tight-head prop binds by placing the right arm outside the left upper arm of the opposing loose-head prop.
    3. Each prop binds by gripping the back or side of their opponent’s jersey.
    4. All players’ binding is maintained for the duration of the scrum.
    5. Sanction: Penalty.
  14. When both sides are square, stable and stationary, the referee calls “set”.
    1. Only then may the teams engage, completing the formation of the scrum and creating a tunnel into which the ball will be thrown.
    2. All players must be in position and ready to push forward.
    3. Each front-row player must have both their feet on the ground, with their weight firmly on at least one foot.
    4. Each hooker’s feet must be in line with, or behind, the foremost foot of that team’s props.
    5. Sanction: Free-kick.


  15. The scrum-half chooses which side of the scrum to throw in the ball.
  16. The scrum-half holds the ball as shown in the diagram.
  17. When both sides are square, stable and stationary, the scrum-half throws in the ball:
    1. From the chosen side.
    2. From outside the tunnel.
    3. Without delay.
    4. With a single forward movement.
    5. At a quick speed.
    6. Straight. The scrum-half may align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, thereby standing a shoulder-width closer to their side of the scrum.
    7. So that it first touches the ground inside the tunnel.
    8. Sanction: Free-kick.
    Throw-in at the scrum

    During a scrum

  18. The scrum begins when the ball leaves the hands of the scrum-half.
  19. Only when the scrum begins may the teams push. Sanction: Free-kick.
  20. Possession may be gained by pushing the opposition backwards and off the ball.
  21. Players may push provided they do so straight and parallel to the ground. Sanction: Penalty.
  22. Front-row players may gain possession by striking for the ball but only once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel. Sanction: Free-kick.
  23. A front-row player striking for the ball may do so with either foot but not both at the same time. Sanction: Penalty.
  24. The hooker from the team which threw in the ball must strike for the ball. Sanction: Free-kick.
  25. A front-row player must not intentionally kick the ball out of the tunnel from the direction it was thrown. Sanction: Free-kick.
  26. Any player within the scrum may play the ball but only with their feet or lower legs and they must not lift the ball. Sanction: Penalty.
  27. If a scrum collapses or if a player in the scrum is lifted or is forced upwards out of the scrum, the referee must blow the whistle immediately so that players stop pushing.
  28. When the scrum is stationary and the ball has been available at the back of the scrum for three-five seconds, the referee calls “use it”. The team must then play the ball out of the scrum immediately. Sanction: Scrum.
  29. Offside at a scrum

  30. Players remain onside for the duration of the scrum.
  31. Prior to the start of play in the scrum, the scrum-half of the team not throwing in the ball stands:
    1. On that team’s side of the middle line next to the opposing scrum-half, or
    2. At least five metres behind the hindmost foot of their team’s last player in the scrum and remains there until the completion of the scrum.
  32. Once play in the scrum begins, the scrum-half of the team in possession has at least one foot level with or behind the ball.
  33. Once play in the scrum begins, the scrum-half of the team not in possession:
    1. Takes up a position with both feet behind the ball and close to the scrum but not in the space between the flanker and the number eight or
    2. Permanently retires to a point on the offside line either at that team’s hindmost foot, or
    3. Permanently retires at least five metres behind the hindmost foot.
  34. All players not participating at the scrum remain at least five metres behind the hindmost foot of their team.
  35. When the hindmost foot of a team is in in-goal or within five metres of that team’s goal line, the offside line for that team’s non-participants is the goal line.
  36. Sanction: Penalty.
  37. As soon as the scrum ends, offside lines no longer apply.
  38. Scrum offside

    Resetting a scrum

  39. When there is no infringement, the referee will stop play and reset the scrum if:
    1. The scrum-half throws in the ball and it comes out at either end of the tunnel.
    2. The scrum collapses or breaks up before it has otherwise ended.
    3. The scrum is wheeled through more than 90 degrees, so the middle line has passed beyond a position parallel to the touchline.
    4. Neither side wins possession.
    5. The ball is unintentionally kicked out of the tunnel. Exception: If the ball is repeatedly kicked out, the referee must treat this as intentional. Sanction: Penalty.
  40. When a scrum is reset, the ball is thrown in by the team that previously threw it in.
  41. Ending a scrum

  42. The scrum ends:
    1. When the ball comes out of the scrum in any direction except the tunnel.
    2. When the ball reaches the feet of the hindmost player and it is picked up by that player or is played by that team’s scrum-half.
    3. When the number eight picks up the ball from the feet of a second-row player.
    4. When the referee blows the whistle for an infringement.
    5. When the ball in a scrum is on or over the goal line.

    Dangerous play and restricted practices in a scrum

  43. Dangerous play in a scrum includes:
    1. A front-row charging against the opposition.
    2. Pulling an opponent.
    3. Intentionally lifting an opponent off their feet or forcing them upwards out of the scrum.
    4. Intentionally collapsing a scrum.
    5. Intentionally falling or kneeling.
    6. Sanction: Penalty.
  44. Other restricted practices at a scrum include:
    1. Falling on or over the ball immediately after it has emerged from the scrum.
    2. Scrum-half kicking the ball while it is in the scrum.
    3. Non-front-row player holding or pushing an opponent.
    4. Sanction: Penalty.
    5. Bringing the ball back into the scrum once it has left.
    6. Non-front-row players playing the ball in the tunnel.
    7. Scrum-half attempting to make an opponent believe the ball is out of the scrum when it is not.
    8. Sanction: Free-kick.

    Scrum law variations

  45. A union may implement the under-19 scrum law variations at defined levels of the game within its jurisdiction.