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IRB abolish verbal “yes nine” call at scrum

08 January 2014

  • IRB amend scrum laws to give scrum halves non-verbal put-in communication
  • Tony Spreadbury explains how the change will work on practical basis
Harlequins and England scrum half Danny Care prepares to put the ball into a scrum

Photo: Getty Images

In a minor revision to the current protocol surrounding the on-going scrum engagement global trial, the International Rugby Board has confirmed that referees will use non-verbal communication to indicate to the scrum half when the ball can be thrown into the scrum.

Up to now as part of the scrum trial, the referee has told the scrum half that the scrum is ready for the put-in by the use of the phrase “yes nine”.

But following an initial review, including consultation with national coaches and referee managers, it has been decided that referees will adopt a non-verbal communication for the introduction of the ball in accordance with the relevant law (20.5 Throwing the Ball Into the Scrum).

The RFU’s Professional Referee Development Manager, Tony Spreadbury, explained the new procedure now that the verbal “yes nine” has been dropped: “If the nine is on the far side of the scrum the referee will raise his hand and nod his head in a yes motion when he believes that there is sufficient stability for the ball to be put in.

“If the referee is on the putting in side he will give the nine a tap on the back when he believes that there is sufficient stability for the ball to be put in.

“Match officials need to continue to referee all of the other elements of the scrum trial including pushing before the ball is introduced and clear and obvious put-ins that are not straight.”

The change is effective immediately.