Leading coach urges NRL to bring back scrums
Ivan Cleary wants the NRL to consider bringing back scrums, claiming the new rules are contradictory to the game's mission to promote attacking footy.
The Panthers coach has called for the NRL to analyse the success of the new rules after round six with a consideration to reverting to scrums for when the football is taken over the sideline.
Cleary added that the new rule that resulted in a play-the-ball restart - instead of a scrum - after the ball or player finds touch did nothing but create an advantage for the defensive side to "bash" the ball-carrier.
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Scrums, Cleary said, were an 'art' which gave the attacking side freedom to move and less defenders in the line.
"I don't think it's (rule changes) had the effect that maybe they (NRL) were hoping,'' Cleary said.
"At the moment, if you're struggling a bit, you can kick the ball out and the team that kicks it out, gets the advantage by then having a completely straight defensive line ready to bash the first carry.
"I don't think that's how it should be. If you can get your defensive line set, after being on the back foot at your own end, why wouldn't you kick it into touch?
"I thought we wanted to keep the ball in play, don't we?''
Cleary worked for the NRL in 2016 as a consultant to the referees in match review, judiciary and refereeing issues.
He was also a member of the NRL competition committee up until it's dismantling last year.
"Scrums have become an art, with three or four defenders on one side, teams are attacking from them - as we've seen from several teams over the first few rounds,'' Cleary said.
"I reckon they're good. I'm not sure what the problem was?
"If you tackle the opposition into touch, which is actually a big play, the advantage you used to get was something.
"Now you just get a full line defence ready to bash you.
"It (play-the-ball restart) doesn't speed the game back up that much, I don't think.
"Judging the way they changed the rules, maybe after six weeks where they've got a good enough sample size, they could go 'right, we're going to change that.'
"I hope they do."
The rule changes were introduced to help alleviate the game of 'dead air" during the at-times slow process of a scrum being packed.
ARL Commission chairman Peter V'landys has been vocal in his push to make the game more appealing to fans, but has also stated he will listen to feedback.
Champion Penrith playmaker and Panthers board member Greg Alexander agreed with Cleary.
"I saw the Sharks score a great try on Saturday night from a scrum and I remember saying last year, scrums will be the new place to score a try from, where they hadn't been that way in the past, with the ability move the scrums to the centre of the field now,'' Alexander said.
"There's no doubt that kicking the ball out is an advantage to the defensive side - so it does contradict what we're trying to do.
"It's (play-the-ball restart) just another way of getting more defenders in a condensed space and limiting you from doing something with the footy.''
Play-the-ball restart after the ball or player finds touch
When the ball is kicked or carried into touch play will resume with a play-the-ball rather than a scrum.
Scrum restart after a ball or player finds touch
When the ball is kicked or carried into touch play should resume with a scrum.
Originally published as Leading coach urges NRL to bring back scrums