The scrum

The scrum is a restart of the game that takes place after a minor infringement such as a forward pass. It is a physical contest for possession and therefore, as with any contact, safety must be a prime consideration. Players, coaches and referees all have a responsibility to ensure the scrum is fair, competitive and safe. It is imperative that all players understand the correct techniques for their position and collaborate with their opponent to stay on their feet.

In the scrum, the non-offending team has the advantage of throwing the ball in, usually from the left hand side of the scrum. The defending side has the opportunity to regain possession by either trying to hook the ball on the throw-in, or by driving the attacking team back over the ball.

The scrum restarts the match and open play follows when the ball emerges from the scrum.


Law definition
A scrum is formed in the field of play when eight players from each team, bound together in three rows for each team, close up with their opponents so that the heads of the front rows are interlocked. This creates a tunnel into which a scrum half throws in the ball so that front row players can compete for possession by hooking the ball with either of their feet.


Referee tips

Before the match:

  • Check that all front row players are suitably trained for the level of the game
  • Speak to front row forwards and scrum halves to explain the sequence of the engagement process


At the scrum:

  • Be directive throughout the process
  • Ensure both packs are ready before initiating the engagement sequence
  • Ensure neither front row is driving down or have their shoulders below their hips
  • Check correct binding
  • Ensure the ball is thrown in straight down the tunnel
  • If the scrum becomes unstable, blow the whistle early and loudly
  • Ensure the defending side does not illegally disrupt possession
  • Ensure players not in the scrum remain onside
  • If you have any safety doubts, go to uncontested scrums