Newcastle Falcons' Warren Fury unperturbed by scrum changes

Welshman says players will adapt to new instructions after latest tinkering by International Rugby Board

Warren Fury
Warren Fury

Warren Fury says the mid-season decision to tinker with rugby’s scrum laws will not disadvantage him and his Newcastle Falcons team-mates.

The International Rugby Board last week announced they were getting rid of the ‘yes nine’ instruction from referees to scrum-halves, ordering the No 9 to put the ball into the scrum.

Instead, they will give a hand signal to the attacking team, meaning opposition front rows will not be able to get a head start from the verbal instruction.

Fury, the Falcons and former Wales scrum-half, said: “They have changed the law because the way it was, it benefited the opposition.

“Having the referee calling ‘yes nine’ allowed them to get an early engagement, and it was a trigger for them.

“As well as that, the opposition were scrummaging on six legs whereas we are scrummaging on five, because the hooker’s leg is cocked ready for the put-in.”

Unflustered by a change which arrived at the start of the calendar year but right in the middle of the Falcons’ season, Fury said: “It is part of the game, and you have got to react in such a way as benefits your own team.

“I personally think this change is the right decision, and speaking to the boys in the front row they feel the same way about it.

“It makes it a bit more of a contest, and at the end of the day I think that is what everybody wants.”

Joking about the new mechanism for referees to instruct the attacking side to feed the ball in, the former Leeds and London Wasps man said: “In terms of what signal the scrum-halves get, it could be a bit of a nod and a wink!”

Prepared for the initial hard-line stance to fade as the novelty wears off, Fury added: “Like a lot of these things they tend to take quite a hard line when it first comes in, and then ease off a little bit once people are into it.

“Changing the ‘yes nine’ call might mean the straight feed comes a bit more back into focus for a little while, and that the referees are on the watch for it again.

“From a scrum-half’s point of view hopefully they might forget about the straight feed for a couple of weeks, but I suppose I would say that.

“Either way the boys will just get on with it, and we work on our skills during the week based on what the referees are hot on and what we think will work during the games.

“As a scrum-half putting the ball into the scrum is a fundamental part of that, and so when there are changes to the laws or interpretations then naturally you are going to sit up and take notice.”

Falcons director of rugby was less enthusiastic about the move, not for any fundamental disagreement with the law in itself, but because it is the latest in a long line of changes.

“They keep on tampering with things throughout the season, and you can’t understand why,” he said.

“Just let it run for the season and then see where you are, but the Super 15 is about to start and it has once again been changed to suit the southern hemisphere.”

Newcastle prop Scott Wilson is one of those to have arguably benefited from a head start on the engagement during the time when ‘yes nine’ preceded every put-in, but the England Under-20s star is philosophical about the new system of signalling.

Wilson said: “It used to give you a little bit of an advantage, but not too much. There are always little ways to get around that, and even without the referee verbally calling it teams will already have plans in place of how they can adapt.”

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