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Officiating
"Yes, nine" scrum call to be axed?
ESPN Staff
January 6, 2014
Pre-feed referee calls at scrum-time look set to change © Getty Images
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The IRB looks set to ditch the current "yes, nine" scrum call and replace it with a non-verbal, pre-agreed instruction with immediate effect.

Planet Rugby reports that the changes are due to be implemented at all levels of the game worldwide, and will be replaced by a non-verbal instruction from the referee to the scrum-half when they consider the scrum to be square and stable. Scrum-halves who put the ball in before the command by the referee are liable to be penalised.

The non-verbal instruction must be agreed by the referee and both scrum-halves at the start of the game. It could be anything from a tap on the back while the referee is on the side of the put in or by another pre-agreed signal.

The "yes, nine" call has been subject of some controversy in rugby circles, with one criticism being the fact it can take away the crucial timing advantage or element of surprise for an attacking pack at scrum-time by alerting the defending team exactly when to push. Critics also say the sequence effectively allows the defending side to push against seven players as the hooker strikes for the ball.

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