Putting Forwards Back Into the Rugby League Front Row

It became evident after the week's on and off-field action that there is an overdose of aggro occurring amongst the 'front row forwards' of Rugby League. The Rugby League judiciary was the place to be for any Rugby League 'forward' seeking a reputation as the game's new designated hard man. The judiciary doled out suspensions quicker than Centrelink hands out dole cheques to former Reserve graders.

For those not familiar with the history of the Rugby codes and scrums in particular this is approximately how it happened; William Webb Ellis picked up a soccer ball and ran into a bunch of his mates who started to hit him and so Rugby Union was born. Rugby League split from Rugby Union over a dispute about effort - League forwards wanted to get paid to do it, Union forwards did it for fun. By the 1980s, Rugby League began to generate into glorified touch football, the shoulder charge became the preferred method of turning over ball, and scrums degenerated into a love fest where the forwards would rest against each other for a breather while the halfback fed the ball to himself. Meanwhile, Rugby Union scrums became more technical and more symbolically intrinsic to everything that is aesthetically pleasing about the game, to the extent today that it is necessary for each scrum to be reset five times as players touch themselves, pause to consider life and what's it all about, before engaging in a fierce manly battle to the death or even worse, losing.

Rugby League's non contested scrums deny their 'front row forwards' the opportunity to compete in these battles of strength. . Rugby Union, however, under guidelines that have developed over well over a century for the express purpose of allowing opposing players to compare themselves, has this in abundance.

The Rugby Union scrum does not just challenge the endurance, strength, cunning and guile of slow fat men with no necks, it also ensures that by the time the opposing players meet each other in open play they are too buggered to clobber each other.

So if Rugby League wants to stamp out foul play, it needs to reinstate the scrum to all its intended and contested glory.