Uncontested Scrums

A referee may always go to uncontested scrums if he or she believes a contested scrum may be dangerous otherwise.

There are two aspects to consider:

  1. The scrum itself
  2. The circumstances that brought about the condition. This discussion draws largely on the SJRU rules that govern substitutions and player numbers. It applies only to age groups U13 and up. For younger age groups, there are no special considerations.

1. The scrum itself

This is straightforward. IRB Laws and SJRU Competition Rules are in complete agreement:

IRB Laws of the Game U19 Variations state:

In an uncontested scrum, the teams do not compete for the ball. The team putting in the ball must win it. Neither team is allowed to push the other team away from the mark.

SJRU Rules Appendix A: Competition Summary

Team feeding scrum must win

No pushing

Other Laws unchanged

Note the third statement. This confirms that the historical alternative of a free kick cannot be offered. Note also that there are no special constraints on either of the half backs or the number 8.

Be aware that binding laws and offside lines do not change. Referees will be as vigilant as ever.

2. Player numbers

SJRU Rule 4.15 applies and it refers to Rule 4.14

In summary, a team is required to be able to replace an unavailable prop and an unavailable hooker:

14.5C Should a Team not be able to meet [their obligation to have a suitably trained front row] for any reason during a game, then at the point in the match when the front row replacement is required, this Team must play with one player fewer than would otherwise be allowed.

14.5D Should a team not have three suitably trained front row players to commence a game with contested scrums, then this Team must play with one player fewer than would otherwise be allowed.

14.4D A Team may only revert from uncontested scrums to contested scrums [when]

  1. a trained front row player [returns from the Sin Bin]
  2. a trained front row player [returns from the Blood Bin]
  3. a trained front row player who arrived late at the Match enters the field of play..

Appendix A (applies to contested scrum as well): When a Team has fewer than fifteen players, then the team with the lesser number of forwards determines the number of players in the scrum.

IRB Law 3.13b: When a front row player has been shown a card, the captain shall direct another suitably qualified player on the field to play in the front row. If there is no such player, the captain will nominate a player to leave the field so that a suitably trained front row player from the Team's reserve bench can play in the front row.