USA Rugby updates scrum engagement communications

BOULDER, Colo. - The USA Rugby Rugby Committee voted to adopt the IRB's newest revision to the ongoing scrum engagement global trial: non-verbal communication to indicate to the scrumhalf when the ball can be placed into the scrum.

Effective March 1 at all college and club matches, referees will discuss in the front-row briefing with scrumhalves how the touching should be accomplished and what the signal will be. Typically, the touch is either in the middle of the back - between the shoulder blades - or on the shoulder. The signal can be a thumbs-up, a nod, or play-on gesture, but must be demonstrated to the scrumhalves prior to the start of each match.

The "yes, nine" verbal call will still be utilized at the U19/high school level and younger.

The decision to implement the non-verbal communication at all levels of adult rugby was reached after input was received from all levels of the game in the U.S.A. as to what each community would prefer.

Below is the IRB announcement regarding the revision to the ongoing scrum trial.

IRB further empowers referees at scrums

In a minor revision to the current protocol surrounding the ongoing scrum engagement global trial, the International Rugby Board has confirmed that referees will use non-verbal communication to indicate to the scrum-half when the ball can be thrown into the scrum.

Up to now as part of the scrum trial, the referee has told the scrum-half that the scrum is ready for the put-in by the use of the phrase "yes nine". But following an initial review, including consultation with national coaches and referee managers, it has been decided that referees will adopt a non-verbal communication to scrum-halves for the introduction of the ball. This is in accordance with the relevant law (20.5 Throwing the Ball Into the Scrum).

As with the original protocol, it is up to individual Unions to decide whether this change will be adopted at levels below elite Rugby.