Gloucester Rugby are ready for scrum-thing completely different this year
MATCH-SCENARIO scrummaging sessions – complete with referee and outside opposition – are helping Gloucester prepare for the new set-piece laws.
The Cherry and Whites have called in top-class referees to oversee live scrum sessions against other clubs at their Hartpury training base.
The IRB have approved a global trial of the calling sequence 'crouch, bind, set' this season, aimed at reducing the 'hit' impact by 25 per cent when two teams pack down.
The world's governing body want to reduce the number of front-row casualties, at the same time as improving the scrummage as a contest.
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The referee will call crouch and bind, when props will bind with their outside arms, before the 'set' command will see the two front-rows engage.
When the referee is happy the scrum is square, he will call 'yes nine' and the scrum-half can put the ball in.
Officials have been asked to accept no feeding into the scrum whatsoever, meaning hookers will actually have to perform their primary function for the first time in years.
Gloucester's coaches have been working tirelessly in a bid to avoid any confusion or inconsistency when the new Premiership season starts.
By the time the Cherry and Whites host Sale Sharks at Kingsholm on Saturday, September 7, rugby director Davies wants to have cut out as many grey areas as possible.
Gloucester's scrum coach Tony Windo has met with Ed Morrison, the RFU's head of professional referee development.
New forwards coach Andrew Stanley has also met with former Premiership referee Chris White, who now heads up the RFU's national referee academy.
Admitting the Kingsholm club are wary of the impact of the scrum changes, Davies explained: "I think it will take several months for the new rules to settle down.
"In the meantime we've just been seeking clarity on the exact interpretation that the referees will employ.
"Tony Windo has spoken to Ed Morrison about that and we're just trying to gain as much information as we can. It will take some time to settle down and the most important thing is being able to make the new rules work to your advantage of course.
"So we've been careful to prepare our players accordingly – the front-row have had an entirely new and separate conditioning programme.
"We expect more of a strength element and technical contest, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out."