It’s no secret that the vast majority of referees have never packed down in a scrum. And of those that have, you’d be hard pressed to find one who packed down in the front row.

Without a true understanding of what happens at scrum time, particularly between the two front rows, referees struggle for consistency in their calls especially when it gets too technical. I’m not at all suggesting that referees don’t try and understand what happens, and that they don’t make an effort, but it’s like getting marriage advice from a priest – they mean well, but they really don’t have a clue what they’re talking about.

Anything could happen at this scrum

How often have you seen a referee penalise a loosehead at one scrum, and then reverse the penalty at the next scrum, for the seemingly same offence? Way too often!

Some refs just let the game play on if the ball is at the back of the scrum, despite a clear and obvious infringement that’s caused the scrum to collapse up front, whereas others will blow this up for the penalty. One of these needs to be the right or wrong way to go about it so there’s consistency from game to game. These inconsistencies can be the difference between winning and losing, and I think it’s an area that needs to be addressed.

Training up recently retired front rowers would be a logistical and, in some cases, medical disaster, so having these scrum experts as referees wouldn’t work. And making the current referees undertake actual scrum training wouldn’t work either for a number of reasons.

But what if they only came on to referee the scrum? What if for the rest of the game they sat on the sideline waiting for their time to shine at the next scrum? Many sports have employed additional referees to help better manage the game, and I think that the scrum is one area that could be better managed by having an expert oversee the great spectacle.

Rugby league has two on-field referees – whether that’s a good or bad thing

Having these “SCRUMPIRES” come on to the field only at scrum time, could help get more consistency amongst the calls, and take out the ‘guessing’ that is currently going on at all levels of the game.

Contingent of NFL umpires

What other solutions do you think would solve this issue? Let us know in the comments below this post.

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