Scrums are good for the game says ex-Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity prop
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The Rugby Football League’s laws committee this week recommended removing scrums from all fixtures for the rest of 2020, on health grounds.
They also suggested following the NRL’s lead in restarting play with a play-the-ball rather than a scrum following a kick out on the full or a mutual infringement such as the ball hitting the referee or a trainer. So far this year there has been an average of 12 scrums per game in Betfred Super League.
Huby, 34, played for Castleford Tigers from 2003 to 2014, then had two seasons with Huddersfield Giants before joining Wakefield Trinity. He retired last December because of a persistent shoulder injury and now runs a coffee shop, Plan Bee, in Castleford Town centre.
The ex-prop admitted his initial reaction to the prospect of fewer - or possibly no - scrums in the game was “what about the big fellas”.
He said: “The game is quick enough as it is, so where do you get your rests?”
Huby predicted: “I think it’s a good thing for the spectators if it speeds the game up, but from a player’s point of view it is going to have a big effect on the bigger, middle-unit players who try to do longer stints. It is going to affect their game time, I would imagine.”
Huby, though, believes most props could cope.
“A lot of the middles now are built the same sort of shape, they are all athletes now as opposed to how they were a few years back,” he observed.
“There’s probably only a few bigger players knocking about. Dave Fifita [of Wakefield] is probably a typical example and it could have an affect on his game.
“I know it might not sound much, but having a 30-second break for a scrum just lets you get your thoughts and recoup and have a think about what you should be doing - so you can get your thoughts and go again. It’s chance to have a word with yourself really, especially when you are tired.”
Scrums take six players out of the action, briefly and Huby also believes reducing their number could mean fewer attacking options.
“When I was at Wakefield and especially at Cas with Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] a lot of set plays were from a scrum,” he recalled.
“It gave your full-back chance to run wide and create chances. It was ideal for Luke Dorn back in the day, off a scrum, getting a wide angle going off the back of the half. He would score plenty of times doing that, so it would be a shame if they got rid of them altogether.”
The recommendation to abolish scrums for the rest of this year is based on the advice of health experts who believe it could help prevent the transmission of coronavirus. They calculate if a one-on-one tackle is one close contact, a scrum is 132. Huby understands the health concerns during the Covid-19 outbreak and stressed: “Whatever they can do to make sure everyone is as safe as they can be, they have got to do that.”
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