New scrum laws supported by camera evidence

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A three-year research project, completed by the Rugby Science Group at Bath University and funded by the International Rugby Board (IRB), has contributed to recent changes in the law of scrummaging, with a new ‘crouch, bind, set' engagement sequence.

Data collected from cameras, player mounted pressure sensors and accelerometers, using National Instruments CompactRio, show that this new engagement sequence reduces initial scrum forces by 25 per cent, making scrummaging safer and less prone to collapsing with time-consuming restarts.

Using NI LabView software, NI CompactRio platform and the latest in scrum machine technology to acquire accurate synchronised measurements during live scrummaging, the University team tested and examined the physical demands on players in UK and overseas rugby teams, across playing levels from school age to international level.

The combination of LabView real-time software and CompactRio hardware proved ideal for this application because it offered deterministic triggering control across multiple devices, simulating both training and real match conditions. The consistent data collection and full analysis of force, acceleration and movement patterns formed a quantitative basis for the new, improved law amendments.

With a view to establish safer engagement techniques, the IRB selected the Bath University research team to investigate the forces and motion of scrum mechanics to determine the causes of injuries suffered throughout the sport. The findings supported the decision to change the laws of scrummaging and create the new engagement sequence which has now been implemented across all National and International rugby competitions, including the Rugby World Cup and European Six Nations Championship.

IRB chief executive Brett Gosper commented: ‘The feedback that we have been getting from coaches and players around the world is that this is a positive change that enhances player welfare and scrum stability.’

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