12 March 2011

You know it makes rugby sense

In the modern game, before the opposing forwards meet in a scrum, the referee issues a series of instructions: "Crouch, touch, pause, engage". This innovation of a few years back would not appear to cleaned up the scrums, in that more and more are having to be re-set. May I suggest an explanation?

Three of the four instructions are performative, in that they require the front rows to undertake a specific action (crouching, touching and, finally, engaging). The odd one out is "pause"; this would only require the front rows to stop doing something. As they are not at that stage actually doing anything, it is entirely otiose. Furthermore, it disrupts the rhythm of the responses to the referee's other three instructions.

My guess is that the game's legislators, when drawing up the new rules, suggested that referees should be required to say "crouch", "touch", then pause and then say "engage". But when the rules went to the printers, someone got the wrong end of the stick by suggesting that referees should also say "pause", even though it is totally illogical. Of course once the rules had been printed and translated, it was too late to rectify matters. And so they waste up to 15 minutes in each match re-setting scrums.

Stranger things have happened ...

Btw, congratulations to Italy.

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