You are here

Tuesday the International Rugby Board announced that it is making a small change to enforcement of the scrum engagement.

With the new scrum laws, the referee has been telling the scrumhalf when to put the ball in ("Yes Nine" being the accepted verbage). This rule has come under some criticism because it takes away a small advantage teams putting the ball in have had for years - they know when the ball is coming in, and the opposition doesn't.

As a result, on Tuesday the IRB announced that referees will use non-verbal communication to tell a scrumhalf when the ball can be put in. (No official word on what that non-verbal communication might be - thumbs up? A wink or a nudge?)

The IRB's announcement said that the change is effective immediately and will be used in the next round of major professional matches. However, the IRB announcement added, " it is up to individual Unions to decide whether this change will be adopted at levels below elite Rugby."

Later Tuesday USA Rugby announced that it will NOT be adopting the new approach, yet.

“When the IRB put into place the trial law regarding the scrum engagement sequence [Law 20.1(g)], a demonstration media was provided in which a suggested implementation included the referee communicating to the player putting in the ball that he, the referee, was satisfied with the engagement, and it was okay to put in the ball,” said Ed Todd, USA Rugby's head of referees. “It should be emphasized that the verbal communication is not law, but a suggested protocol. At the present time, all referees in the United States are using the verbal communication. USA Rugby’s Laws Committee and the Rugby Committee are now reviewing this new possibility, and a policy decision will be made. However, this will not happen before next week as it requires full consideration, which must not be rushed. In the mean time, the 'yes nine' communication will stay in effect.”

So "Yes Nine" will no longer be used in major professional games, but in USA Rugby, until further notice, it will still be used.