Off the Wall

The Bill Harrigan regime is starting to have a significant impact on more than just refereeing - it is having a real impact on the way the game is played.

And we had better get used to it - because Bill, and his assistant, Stuart Raper, are looking at changes that will be controversial, but in my view at least merit serious consideration.

The referees are policing scrum formation more than they have done for a generation.

Bill Harrigan spoke about the scrum issue generally on 2GB/4BC yesterday. What he said will alarm some fans, and many players, especially half backs!

It is clear that "contested scrums" are back on the agenda.

It is a debate we need to have because the current scrums are a joke, and frankly serve only to give slow forwards (and referees) a breather!

Can't you image the controversy if we get contested scrums back? I was brought up on them - and even though they could be frustrating, they were certainly a talking point. Did the half put the ball in the second row? Did the referee allow so and so half back to cheat? And who won the scrums?

In that era, the hooker/rake and the half back were absolutely key to the team. The half back remains a key player, but the hooker/rake?

If we get contested scrums back, then players like Johnathan Thurston, Mitchell Pearce, Scott Prince, Cooper Cronk and so on will have an even more pronounced influence on the game.

But is that a bad thing?

Bob Fulton, an outstanding player and coach when contested scrums were still in vogue, believes that we should either bring back the contested scrums, or abolish scrums altogether.

I agree with him - but with one important qualification.

Scrums must not be as pedantic as they are in union today, or used to be in many league games.

We don't want scrums to be reset three or four times just to please the referee.

The issue of contested scrums is one the game is surely mature enough to consider.

I don't always agree with Bill Harrigan, but he is interested in making the game flow more smoothly, and he is happy to make, and defend, controversial decisions and recommendations.

The debate about scrums is a debate we need to have.

And, sad I am to have to have to admit it, it will also provide more betting options!

Scrums are a rabble, they serve no real purpose with the half backs doing all they can to land the ball as close to the feet of the lock as possible.

Let's have a debate about them - and consider whether they should become "contested", or become a part of the history of the game!