Todd Blackadder adds his voice to scrum row

12:00, Mar 26 2014
Todd Blackadder
TODD BLACKADDER: The Crusaders coach is unlikely to get his 10 All Blacks back for Tuesday's match against England.

An angry Todd Blackadder has joined Sir John Kirwan in pleading for someone to take responsibility over the Super Rugby scrum fiasco.

Yesterday Blues coach Kirwan called for Sanzar and the IRB to listen to the coaches, players and fans and allow the halfback to put the ball in without having to wait for the referee to make the call.

Kirwan has called for a trial law change mid-way through the competition.

Crusaders coach Blackadder, like Kirwan, has had a gutsful of the constant scrum re-sets and collapses which are a consequence of the two forward packs being unable to stay up still while the halfback waits for the referee's approval to put the ball in the tunnel.

''I hope a little bit of common sense comes out of all of this because at the moment it is just re-set, re-set, re-set isn't it?'' Blackadder, who labelled the scrum shambles a ''blight on the game'', fumed.

Former All Blacks captain and lock Blackadder reiterated Kirwan's message when he said the most logical step would be for Sanzar boss Lyndon Bray to change the rule.

''Just allow the ball to go in. And if the ball goes in then I don't even think we will be having this conversation now,'' Blackadder added.

''Most forward packs are positive, they actually want to scrum. But at the moment they are not only trying to hit, they are trying to take the pressure, they have to be settled and they have to wait.

''Now you are asking 16 guys to be aligned. It's impossible. Only one guy has to change his angle or his shoulder or can't quite hold the pressure and the scrum starts going sideways and it's a re-set.''

Blackadder didn't have any beef with the referees because he knows they are just following their bosses' instructions.

''They are only following the law, they are only out there doing their job. I suppose they could go outside the laws to basically provide some logic and common sense and that is to let the halfback put the ball in once the engage is called.''

Before the competition began it was decided the ref would make a ''secret call'' to the halfback; it was hoped this would not alert the defensive team as to when they should put the shove on.

But with hookers now having to release their weight to hook the ball - a result of the revamped engagement process - the team with the feed is already at a disadvantage.

When the Crusaders met the Stormers in Christchurch on March 8 they substituted their whole front row around the 60 minute mark. Scrum boss Dave Hewett later admitted his front rowers were getting tired more quickly because scrums were taking longer to complete.

Now Blackadder is also worried about player welfare.

''It's crystal ball gazing, really, but those forwards are down there for four seconds under pressure. It would be really interesting to see what it is like later in the competition.

''There is a lot of pressure around their necks and also around their feet, the plantar fascia, in holding that amount of pressure for four seconds.

''I just hope there's not a lot of injuries.''


Fairfax Media