The new scrum laws that are being implemented in this season’s Aviva Premiership will have an impact on the amount of penalties awarded from the set-piece and could turn the tables on clubs that have thus far been able to power their way to victory.
Each scrum will still be a battle of strength, but with packs not allowed to push until given the nod by the referee, the potential for collapse at the point of engagement is largely diminished.
Having dispensed with ‘crouch, touch, pause, engage’ at the start of the 2012/13 season, the new instructions from the man in black will be ‘crouch, bind, set’ and front-rows are now required to bind properly before engagement.
In a move that will please the purists, the new rules also mean a return to ‘hooking’ for hookers as the scrum-half will have to put the ball in straight, with each sides’ number two expected to compete for the oval as it passes them.
Changes to the laws could be bad news for Leicester Tigers, with around 25 per cent of their points last season coming from penalties won at the scrum.
The Premiership champions kick off their title defence against Worcester at Welford Road and the 10/11 on the Warriors plus 17 points suddenly looks the bet to be on.
Promoted Newcastle may also feel aggrieved as their coach, the former England number eight Dean Richards, has brought in prop Kieran Brookes and Scotland international hooker Scott Lawson specifically to aid the Falcons in their battle up front.
Tigers director of rugby Richard Cockerill, Northampton Saints boss Jim Mallinder and Exeter coach Rob Baxter have all criticised the new rules, which indicates they are concerned with how the changes will affect the way they set up their sides.
All of those teams finished in the top six last season and the big boys are clearly worried that the playing field has been levelled by these changes on the eve of the new Premiership campaign.
However, it is Leicester that remain favourites at 7/4 to win the regular Premiership season and the same price to triumph in the Grand Final.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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