The return of scrums to rugby league cannot come soon enough, says Leeds coach Richard Agar.
The 2021 Super League season will kick off as the 2020 one finished, with play-the-balls taking the place of scrums, which were scrapped from the resumption last August in order to reduce the number of close contacts during the coronavirus pandemic.
The emergency rule will still be in place when the new season starts on March 26, but the Rugby Football League says scrums could be re-introduced if conditions permit later in the year, with a view to having them back in time for the end-of-season World Cup, which will be played under international laws.
“I’d rather have scrums back,” said Agar. “Scrums are part of the fabric of rugby league.
“While we’re not striking for the ball, they are contested and, while it’s few and far between, there is an opportunity to get the ball back.
“But I think, more than anything, the way the rules have gone, not having them has led to some negative tactics – that we’ve used as well – like being able to roll the ball into touch and take 30 seconds to bring the ball back into play.
“I think you can put in a very low-risk, non-adventurous kick and get a fairly decent reward off it by getting some wind in your lungs and getting your defence right for the next two or three plays.
“If you bring a scrum into play, you can have four blokes attacking three on a percentage, you can have five blokes attacking four, you throw people around, you can be adventurous.
“That’s down to coaches. Some teams don’t attack too much from a scrum, but other teams do, whether that be play one or two.
“We all split the field now and, if the play-the-ball is in the middle of the field, you generally get five defenders one side and five on the other.”