Springboks law changes

The Springboks dominate at scrum time. Photo: Twitter/X

Key Springboks strength could be depowered by law changes

World Rugby is considering considerable law changes, one of which is aimed at reducing the number of scrums in a game.

Springboks law changes

The Springboks dominate at scrum time. Photo: Twitter/X

World Rugby has recently held a 2024 ‘Shape of the Game’ forum in London, notably looking at various law change options targeting improvement in the pace of the game, with the scrum unsurprisingly one of five initiatives identified. Considering this is such as major strength of the Springboks, though, this should draw some serious attention.

According to recommendations that were made, the aims revolve around “reimagining the spectacle” and to “grow rugby’s share of attention within an increasingly competitive global sports and entertainment market”.

Reducing the number of scrums taking place in games is a possible change that has been put forward, with this set piece and the multiple resets that sometimes slow down a game having come under scrutiny.

This law change would certainly impact the Springboks

The Springboks are undoubtedly the leading team in world rugby when it comes to using the scrum as a weapon, as evidenced by the damage they were able to inflict during both the 2019 World Cup title decider and the 2023 World Cup semi-final. Ironically, on both occasions it was England that effectively lost the game once South Africa won dominance at the scrum.

There are numerous other examples of how the Springboks have used the scrum to assert their dominance, while it has occasionally drawn criticism from ‘outsiders’ who have suggested the 7-1 bomb squad tactic has become a danger to player safety.

Notably, the latest proposal that there should be a removal of repeated scrum options would undoubtedly reduce the Springboks’ ability to wear down opposition at this set piece.

If the law change is given the go ahead, referees would have to make a quick call at scrum time rather than considering a reset or taking an opportunity to remind the front rowers about the importance of stability.

While speeding up the game, this proposed law change is likely to draw opposition from those concerned about the set-piece’s importance in the modern game. Namely, the Springboks.

Key proposal presented at the World Rugby forum

  • Speed and flow
    Focus on aspects which keep the game moving including speeding up the “use it” call by referees at the breakdown, removing repeated scrums options, expanding the remit of the shot clock, a review of the offside law from kicks, and exploring moves to provide the scrum-half with greater space and protection at the base of scrum, rucks and mauls.