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The Scrum and How American Sportscasters Get It Wrong
Rugby has captured mild intrigue from American sports fans but remains mostly mystery. This is evident when watching an NFL game and the announcers use rugby terms to identify sports situations. The one term that angers me to no end is when I hear Cris Collinsworth (as well as others) use the term “scrum” in a football game. When players get into disorganized messes of random shoving announcers always say the players are caught up in a scrum.
This ignorance does a great disservice to the sport of rugby. Being a sport that requires an attention span of more than 30 second that people do not take the time to learn does not make the sport disorganized or random.
A scrum in rugby is a way the game is reset after certain infraction are committed. Ranging from any time the ball is knocked or thrown forward, to a restart after a penalty. Two groups of eight people called forwards bind together crouch down and compete for the ball which is placed in between them by a ninth player. The most similar American sport equivalent I can give is a jump ball in basket ball
It consists of three front row player a two props called a tight head because his head cannot be seen and loose head because his can. Each prop grabs the opposite waste of the man in the middle called a Hooker, whose job is to hook the ball to the back of the scrum, he put his arm around either prop and crouch down.
Directly behind the front row are two player called locks. They wrap an arm around one another, crouch down and stick their heads between the hooker and the prop in front of them. Their other come up through their props legs grabbing either the waistband of their shorts or the bottom of their shirts. Off to the side of the locks and behind the props are two flankers, and directly behind the locks is the number eight.
Each group of 8 face each other at about 18 inches apart and when the referee feel they are ready he give three commands…
- Crouch- A preparatory command
- Bind-This is the command for the two groups of eight to come together
- Set- The order to groups to push into one another to allow the scrum to support itself
At this point the ninth player or rolls the ball in the area between the front row players called the tunnel. When in the tunnel the two groups compete for the ball by either having there hooker hook the ball to the back of the scrum or by having the one group push the other back until the ball is in the back of the scrum. At this point the ball is picked up of the ground the by the scrumhalf or number 8 and play resumes.
This is an extremely basic explanation of what a scrum is. There are enough of tips, techniques, and strategies out there to fill several books. A scrum is a very controlled activity that players devout a time and training to. The sport has rules that require adequate training as a front row player to participate in a live contested scrum. The number of players a team can have on a roster has expanded over the years to be certain a properly trained first row player in case of injury. If a team doesn’t have enough trained players the scrums are modified for the sake of safety.
A scrum is one of the most carefully coordinated activities in the world of sport. If it were as reckless and disorganized as the world of American football suggest the sport would have never lasted the 169 years that it has. It would have killed many people and paralyzed even more. All contact sports have their moment of chaos and confusion. These football announcers ought to take time or least use a PA or intern to learn the difference between confusion as result from chaos and confusion resulting from