Brett McKay
Brett McKay

Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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The Crowd Says (116)

  • March 5th 2013 @ 4:15am
    Johnno said | March 5th 2013 @ 4:15am | ! Report

    Maybe the IRB , SANZAR who ever are all just going to give up on scrums and by 2025, scrums will just be like rugby league. A non-event, and meaningless contest for possession. I hope not,. But scrums are a mess, they have improved this year , with the new calls, but still a mess.

    -Non pushing at scrum perhaps. But if feeding the ball not straight is not seen as of critical importance, R.I.P scrums what hope does the noble art for piggies have, not much.

    -And do scrums appeal to rugby’s desire to appeal to a broader audience, that’s a debatable question too.But they do take a lot of time to re-set. That’s why I want an athletics type rule,.

    -2nd re-set a decision is made free kick, or penalty, and that’s it. The 6 nations this year has been hamstrung to by awful scrums, and most end up in a free kick anyway.

    Maybe dock an automatic 3-points if you collapse a scrum in your own half.

    But feeding the scrum straight should be the 1st ironclad law, downbeat, if not what hope the scrum got, like ODI cricket too the rubbish bin within 10 years.

    Rugby league and rugby union slowly resembling more similarities each year. The 5 second rule is like a hybrid play the ball.

    • March 5th 2013 @ 5:02am
      ScrumJunkie said | March 5th 2013 @ 5:02am | ! Report

      I hope you wrong about where rugby will be in 2025 Johnno, this is one of my greatest fears. Looks like it could be going that way, after all in the scheme of things it’s not that long since the scrums were fiercly contested in league.

      Maybe with advent of professionalism, the rugby scrum is endangered. The sad fact is that many fans don’t wan’t to pay to see scrums, when they could be watching sublime backline play.

      As for me, I’d be happy if a game was one scrum reset 50 times.

      • March 5th 2013 @ 5:12am
        Johnno said | March 5th 2013 @ 5:12am | ! Report

        A true piggie you are scrumjunkie. I love scrums, I am just sick of the re-sets. Some teams with a weak scrum deliberately collapse it, and just concede a free kick.

        Maybe they should get tough and any collapse, 2st time fail if you collapse it, 3 point dedection , or penalty.

        I hope scrums stay I love it, not as much as you but I don’t want it taking up the whole 80 minutes or 30 minutes of the game.

        A good 10-15 minutes maybe. 4 scrums per half 5 max.

        • March 5th 2013 @ 5:36am
          ScrumJunkie said | March 5th 2013 @ 5:36am | ! Report

          10-15 minutes ,a good compromise, I have to admit I don’t mind seeing the occasional piece of sublime backline play.

          Even I can agree that they must do something about the resets, if they don’t they will just figure a way to slowly take the scrums out of the game. That’s why I love this article, because I’m afraid not policing the halfback’s feed could be the first step down that road.

          Increasing the penalties for collapsed scrums could be an option, but then we always get pulled back to who is actually collapsing the scrum? Let’s face it, with many referees it’s a lottery.

          And I can speak from experience, when the opposing scrum has been warned to keep it up, it was my goal to collapse it. Refs would usually rule against the team they had just warned.

          • Roar Guru

            March 5th 2013 @ 6:15am
            biltongbek said | March 5th 2013 @ 6:15am | ! Report

            All SANZAR has to do is stop the clock during scrums. Teams will quickly stop wasting time.

            • March 5th 2013 @ 10:22am
              ScrumJunkie said | March 5th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

              I love that idea!

            • March 5th 2013 @ 2:34pm
              Ryan said | March 5th 2013 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

              Hear hear I couldn’t agree more the amount of time that is wasted around scrums is ridiculous. The clock should stop as soon as a infringement is called leading to a scrum or a scrum reset and not be started again until the ball is fed into the channel.

            • March 5th 2013 @ 5:36pm
              Terry Kidd said | March 5th 2013 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

              No they won’t. They will waste more time. The lead up to a scrum will become an open rest break

            • Roar Guru

              March 5th 2013 @ 6:11pm
              biltongbek said | March 5th 2013 @ 6:11pm | ! Report

              They might waste more time, but it won’t reduce game time. Scrums are the worst offender when it comes to time wasting on a rugby pitch. But scrums are an integral part of rugby union.

              So you can’t change the laws otherwise you might just bring Rugy union closer to Rugby League and I don’t want that.

              How else are you going to ensure there is still a tough contest at scrumtime, but not lose the minutes wasted?

              The referee could even be sanctioned to award free kicks against teams wasting time.

    • March 5th 2013 @ 9:42pm
      Ra said | March 5th 2013 @ 9:42pm | ! Report

      Maybe non-front row scrummagers shouldn’t have a say Johnno??? It’s a tough joint the front row club. The scrum is the only time when the two opposition sides meet in set piece confrontation on the field. Two of my brothers and I belonged to that club and we didn’t appreciate our brother offering us advice from the wing when we were don’t it tough against formidable opposition.

  • March 5th 2013 @ 4:16am
    Shop said | March 5th 2013 @ 4:16am | ! Report

    Th refs seem to have so much else on their hands at scrum time that they don’t bother with this law anymore. It is a shame because it makes the scrum contest exactly that. It wouldn’t be that hard to fix either, a few weeks of consistantly blowing this up and the no.9’s would have no choice but to feed it straight.

    • Roar Guru

      March 5th 2013 @ 12:49pm
      jeznez said | March 5th 2013 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

      It would drive serious change to scrums – that is for certain.

      There were a couple of times last year where the Wallaby scrum and their opponents were so evenly poised (and miracle of miracle the ball had been fed into the centre of the scrum) that neither side would hook for it, the fear obviously being that the hooker lifting his leg would see his side de-powered and pushed off the ball.

  • March 5th 2013 @ 5:27am
    BennO said | March 5th 2013 @ 5:27am | ! Report

    There’s so much wrong with that reply from sanzar. And I agree it seems Jock M is right.

    While it’s not a bad thing in and of itself that rugby becomes a bit more like league, it’s pretty self defeating when the powers that be abandon the concept they cling to as a matter of identity – the continual contest for the ball.

    • Columnist

      March 5th 2013 @ 9:22am
      Brett McKay said | March 5th 2013 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      Certanly in terms of the scrums feeds, BennO, Jock may well be right. I still think his complaints about a lack of contest at the ruck are way off though – if that were the case, teams wouldn’t bother going for the steal, or counter rucking…

      • March 5th 2013 @ 9:37am
        BennO said | March 5th 2013 @ 9:37am | ! Report

        Absolutely Brett, there’s plenty of contest for the ball in other areas.

        But it is disappointing that scrums have become such a dull affair. There’s really not likely to be a tighthead any more because of quality hooking, just a penalty turnover from a good hit or crafty “play”.

        • Roar Guru

          March 5th 2013 @ 12:56pm
          jeznez said | March 5th 2013 @ 12:56pm | ! Report

          Best set of scrums in a game involving Aussies last year was against the French.

          Aussies had some good early scrums but the French were on top most of the night, capped off by a penalty try as they splintered the Aussie pack.

          The Aussies got a bit of their own back at the end with a tighthead of their own.

          Was a really top class effort of scrummaging by both sides with the French taking the points in the scrum battle and the game.

          Agree with you BennO that this does tend to be the rarity rather than the norm.

          • March 5th 2013 @ 3:27pm
            BennO said | March 5th 2013 @ 3:27pm | ! Report

            I didn’t see that game jez but I did always enjoy watching hookers strike for the ball. I actually marvelled at their flexibility to strike when in the middle of a scrum. I played in the second row and our scrum coach always carried on about keeping pressure on the prop but still, there must be some torsion on a hookers body when striking for the ball.

            I saw earlier that someone below mentioned that enforcing the law might clean up scrums because it would force hookers to maintain a body position to enable them to strike rather than pushing only. I thought that sounded pretty plausible.

      • Roar Guru

        March 5th 2013 @ 12:08pm
        sheek said | March 5th 2013 @ 12:08pm | ! Report


        There might still be a lot of contest in other areas, but it ain’t what it used to be.

        Rucks are gone.

        Lifting in lineouts might have removed the ‘dockyard brawls’, but steals are in the minority. Often teams will not contest the throw.

        Scrum feeds are clearly not straight. The ability of a quick-striking hooker to steal a feed has been all but lost.

        The game is being sanitized to a point whereby it might well be touch footy in 50 years!

        I might remind Roarers it was many of the same “officials” who warned the ethos of the amateur game would be lost, who were also among the first to stick their noses in the trough of professional rugby.

        And it’s heading the same way that those same “officials” proudly sprouting that rugby is a game of a continual battle for possession who are also turning it into anything but.

        • Columnist

          March 5th 2013 @ 1:07pm
          Brett McKay said | March 5th 2013 @ 1:07pm | ! Report

          Sheek, there’s one difference between the lack of contest in lineouts and scrums though. If teams don’t contest a lineout, that’s theor choice. But they can’t really make that same choice in scrums because of the feed..

          • Roar Guru

            March 5th 2013 @ 1:20pm
            sheek said | March 5th 2013 @ 1:20pm | ! Report

            Understood Brett,

            I guess I was mostly responding to BennO that the continuous contest for possession was ever so slowly being eroded.

            • March 5th 2013 @ 1:51pm
              Johnno said | March 5th 2013 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              sheek would you be open to lineout lifting being banned.

              The lineout’s from footage I have seen in the 80’s were a complete mess. But in saying that rugby is a rolly polly game, at least more lineouts could be pinched.

              rucks are gone too. The touch footy culture of rugby could be here within 50 years.

              It’s all about the mums, and getting the broader audience. So petrified are rugby officials of scaring away mum’s telling there kids not to play this rough sport.

              As long as rugby is tough at a junior level of promoting a culture of the head is sacred, no swinging arms and cheap shots at junior level, the game is fine to play, nothing to be scared about.

            • March 5th 2013 @ 2:09pm
              Jerry said | March 5th 2013 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

              No lifting = more chance of regaining possession for the team taking the ball out = more kicks for touch.

              Also less set moves off the lineout as the halfback is getting cr@ppy tapped back ball.

            • March 5th 2013 @ 3:24pm
              BennO said | March 5th 2013 @ 3:24pm | ! Report

              I agree it ain’t what it used to be but I’m not sure it’s because there’s less of a contest across the board (scrums aside) than the contest has changed. As Brett points out, you can contest a lineout. And while traditional rucks are gone (my biggest disappointment) there is still some contest there, it’s just a different contest.

            • Roar Guru

              March 5th 2013 @ 3:47pm
              sheek said | March 5th 2013 @ 3:47pm | ! Report


              The reason why lifting was allowed in the first place was because policing everything in the lineout was so difficult.

              So allowing lifting at least allowed for some sanity.

              i don’t want to think about where the game is heading, but clearly the ‘nanny state’ mentality is leading the game to touch footy!!!

              I understand the need for safety but at this rate contact sports won’t exist in 100, or perhaps 50 years.

              Maybe world wars will be back in vogue instead…..

            • March 5th 2013 @ 4:05pm
              Mike said | March 5th 2013 @ 4:05pm | ! Report

              Even though lifting in line-outs has evolved pretty much by accident, as it were, it has turned out to be one of the showpieces of the game.

              The public love it, advertisers love it.

              So probably by chance, but what was once viewed as sharp practice is now a highly sought-after skill.

            • March 5th 2013 @ 6:50pm
              moose said | March 5th 2013 @ 6:50pm | ! Report

              fugby did used to be a rucking good game
              aaaahhhhh i miss those bloody, nasty, ‘fix bayonets boys and over the top’ type free-for-all struggle for the ball
              jeez they were painful, but

  • March 5th 2013 @ 5:43am
    mania said | March 5th 2013 @ 5:43am | ! Report

    agree sarel was blatantly feeding crooked, but it was better than him standing around complaining and not feeding it.
    alby has been guilty of this for a long time.
    i’ve mentioned on roar before about crooked feeds and roarers replied that its no longer fed straight because they’re more concerned with collasped scrums. when i said i was an hooker and would often go for a counter hook, by timing my strike behind the oppn hookers feet, i was told that that wasnt part of a hookers job anymore and all they were expected to do was to push.

    • Columnist

      March 5th 2013 @ 9:24am
      Brett McKay said | March 5th 2013 @ 9:24am | ! Report

      Mania, certainly the safetly elements around the engagement have become a priority – and that’s not just SANZAR, to be fair – and I do understand the need for that. What I can’t understand is why you’d want to lose the contest after engagement..

      • March 5th 2013 @ 9:38am
        mania said | March 5th 2013 @ 9:38am | ! Report

        agree brett and i couldnt answer u as to why lose the contest @ engagement. its not a danger and its something that is easily policed. i prefer the hooking to be a contest

  • March 5th 2013 @ 6:09am
    Red Kev said | March 5th 2013 @ 6:09am | ! Report

    I haven’t seen a straight scrum feed in professional rugby since … yeah I can’t even remember, maybe the last time Anthems Whittaker got a run instead of Gregan?
    There used to be an art to feeding a scrum advantageously, it still went in the middle and relatively straight but with heavy spin on the top end to make it curl towards the hooker (many a time I went to hook the ball and marveled that my scrumhalf had done more than half the work for me).
    Having said that the packs are so low now that opposition hookers don’t actually ‘strike’ anymore they just get the shunt on and try to drive the opposition back to win a penalty (a tighthead is a distant second priority).

    • Columnist

      March 5th 2013 @ 9:29am
      Brett McKay said | March 5th 2013 @ 9:29am | ! Report

      Kev, funnily enough, the way the ball is held is set out in 20.6 (b), and all halfbacks are doing this correctly, holding the ball by the points, parallel to the side line. I do remember the ‘spiral feed’ well, think I might even have been pinged for it!

  • Roar Guru

    March 5th 2013 @ 6:49am
    moaman said | March 5th 2013 @ 6:49am | ! Report

    A timely article Brett and I agree that this kind of ‘blind-eye-turning’ by the Refs is both blatant and irritating.

    Crooked feeds are just one of a plethora of little things that bug me about the modern game; another is what opposition players do with the ball every time a free kick or penalty is awarded.Placing it behind them,through their legs,retreating with the ball or throwing it away appear to be de rigueur and ALL are performed under the Refs’ noses!
    There is also the deliberate touching of the ball over the sideline by benchwarmers and the numerous watercarriers to prevent opposition teams from a quick throw-in. What is the point of having rules designed to allow the speeding-up of play-if teams are illegally being prevented from exploiting them?

    Every once in a while we see a renewed focus on some point or another….I recall a vital penalty against my beloved ABs in a 3N game v RSA for a crooked feed…and we all remember a certain NSW winger being yellow/red-carded during a Bledisloe for throwing the ball away over the sideline…..then the Refs go back into hibernation again! Consistancy is what players we all need,surely?

    • March 5th 2013 @ 6:53am
      mania said | March 5th 2013 @ 6:53am | ! Report

      what really psses me off if the illegal mauling , truck and trailer, that teams are allowed to get away with.
      also the passing of the ball off the ground.

      • March 5th 2013 @ 12:39pm
        Ianmac said | March 5th 2013 @ 12:39pm | ! Report

        Truck and trailer ran amok in the Bulls-Force game. To the great cost of the Force.

        • March 5th 2013 @ 4:17pm
          Markus said | March 5th 2013 @ 4:17pm | ! Report

          Watched that game on replay, it was ridiculous that was not blown up as offside.
          It is no longer a maul as soon as there no defender involved in the contest, and no Force defender was in contact with that Bulls driving pack for a good 2-3 seconds. The second they re-engaged, every Bulls player between the defender and the ball carrier was in an offside position.

    • Columnist

      March 5th 2013 @ 9:35am
      Brett McKay said | March 5th 2013 @ 9:35am | ! Report

      Moa, I reckon we could go through the various Laws and write a book on how things aren’t been officiated properly..

      • Roar Guru

        March 6th 2013 @ 8:12am
        moaman said | March 6th 2013 @ 8:12am | ! Report

        Excellent idea Brett! How ’bout you ghost-write it on my behalf? 😉

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