ACC assess safety of new scrum law
New Zealand’s ACC Scheme will play a pivotal role in helping the International Rugby Board (IRB) assess the effectiveness of its new scrum engagement law.
The law change, which aims to improve player safety and reduce frustrating scrum collapses, is gradually being phased in on the world stage – but for many Kiwis, their first glimpse of the new law in action would have been during Saturday’s Bledisloe Cup match between the All Blacks and Wallabies in Sydney.
ACC’s role will be to help the IRB assess how well the new law improves player safety.
ACC was approached by the IRB because of a previous study ACC carried out into scrum safety, as part of its rugby-focused injury prevention work.
In tandem with the New Zealand Rugby Union, ACC has developed a world-leading injury prevention programme called RugbySmart. This has been instrumental in reducing serious injuries, particularly those sustained by front row players at all levels of the game.
ACC is uniquely positioned to assess the safety aspect of interventions such as law changes, because of the comprehensive data it collects about injuries through its claims process.
Everyone who sees a doctor or other health professional in New Zealand, because of a rugby injury, automatically has an ACC claim lodged on their behalf.
‘‘The real test will be when the new law takes effect in the amateur game next season,’’ said ACC’s Programme Manager Sport, Isaac Carlson.
‘‘We’ll analyse all the rugby related claims we receive in New Zealand throughout the season, and that will give us a picture of how well the new law is working safety.’’
The law change is expected to enhance player safety because props in the scrum will be required to bind their arms before the rest of the players engage or ‘‘come together’’ in the scrum.
‘‘The consensus is that this should help prevent collapses of the scrum, which is where a lot of serious injuries can happen. The new law is also expected to reduce impact on engagement, and if you hit something with less force, that will potentially reduce both the likelihood and severity of injury.’’
The IRB has said it plans to assess the scrum engagement trial next year, with the aim of having approved amendments in place a year ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015.
For many rugby fans, their focus will be less on safety and more on whether the new law delivers a more enjoyable spectacle – but Mr Carlson said a better game and a safer game can be one and the same thing.
‘‘A key insight we promote through RugbySmart is that correct technique is also winning technique – so you don’t compromise your ability as a player in any way by playing safely.’’