Watson calls for strong emphasis on scrum laws

PUBLISHED: January 15, 2010

South African referees expect to see fewer re-set scrums as a result of more accurate applications of the scrummaging laws this season said SA Referees manager Andre Watson on Friday.

All eleven members of the SA Referees National Panel attended a two-day workshop in Cape Town and participated in practical scrummaging sessions with the Vodacom Stormers forwards. Similar exercises with the other SA Vodacom Super 14 franchises are also being planned.

SA Referees coach Tappe Henning, SA Referees scrummaging coach Balie Swart, and a group of refereeing assessors also attended the workshop.

“We are confident that we will be much more accurate with the scrum calls which will contribute to far less stoppages in the game as a result of these sessions,” said Watson.

“The IRB has decided that we need to cut down on the amount of scrum resetting. So the referees will be hard on correct scrummaging. In fact, we will be applying a zero tolerance for scrum transgressions.

“We had a practical session with the forward packs to iron out these problems so that the players can understand, and for the referees to see what practically occurs in the scrum. Balie and Tappe also showed the referees how to fix these things and be more accurate with this aspect of the game.”

Swart, who recently joined the South African Rugby Union as a specialist Referees Scrummaging coach and as a referee selector, welcomed the initiative and confirmed that systems are in place to ensure that players, referees and coaches understand the correct scrummaging techniques.

“The problem is that we need to keep things simple, accurate and know that the safety of our players will always come first,” said Swart.

“We believe that referees are ‘safety officers’ at scrum time and hence the zero tolerance attitude for scrum infringements that causes scrums to collapse or disintegrate.

“There is a system that we have in place and we need everyone, including the players, referees and coaches to stick to this system. Referees must not simply just go with the flow, they have to abide to the laws of the game.

“What stands out and something that we have noticed is that it is not always the referee who is always wrong. Sometimes the techniques and the way players are coached results in referees not being accurate with their decisions on the field.

“We need the players, we need the referees and we need the coaches to contribute to a better and more free-flowing game.”

Henning added that the National Panel of eleven referees, who attended the workshop, would now take the message back to their respective provinces to ensure that the accurate application of the scrum laws are applied at all levels of the game.

“We are very excited about this project and this is only the start of it,” said Henning.

“We’ve had a great session with the players and had plenty of feedback from them. Unfortunately we have to begin at the top, but hopefully all the referees will spread the message so that it could infiltrate to the local clubs, schools and teams in their respective provinces.”

Vodacom Stormers assistant coach Matthew Proudfoot welcomed the exercise and expressed his union’s support for future workshops which would involve referees, players and coaches.

“On behalf of the Stormers and Western Province rugby, we would like to thank everyone involved with the SA Referees for initiating an exercise like this,” said Proudfoot.

“These workshops could only improve the understanding and communication of the correct law applications of the game between players, referees and coaches.”

Referees that attended the workshop: Jonathan Kaplan, Mark Lawrence, Marius Jonker, Craig Joubert, Phillip Bosch, Pro Legoete, Jaco Peyper, Joey Salmans, Stuart Berry, Sindile Mayende, Jason Jaftha.