Shame On Any Captain Pleading Uncontested Scrums

Downing Vice Captain and former league secretary ALI MCWHIRTER on why John’s are right to be kicking up a fuss.

downing jesus jesus rugby scrum scrumgate

Downing Vice Captain and former league secretary Ali Mcwhirter gives his view on the issue dividing college rugby.


Uncontested scrummaging has been a hotly-debated topic for years in Cambridge.

The fact is, it still happens all too regularly, even in Division One, and it isn’t likely to disappear anytime soon.

Of course it makes strategic sense for a team, when they believe that the opposition scrum is stronger than theirs, to throw in the towel on competitive rugby before the game even begins. In doing so, they create a style of rugby similar to Super 15, or perhaps even Sevens.

The scrum is an integral part of rugby. It is a battle of brains as well as brawn. Losing the edge in a scrum can zap a team mentally as well as physically, and winning a scrum successfully and cleanly gives good ball for the scrum-half to offload to 10. The scrum tests a back line more than anything – you can’t predict exactly how a scrum is going to turn out – and requires quick thinking when it doesn’t go quite to plan.

In fact, the scrum actually adds to the different positions on the pitch. You have the props who do the dirty work in the scrum, the second rows who add the drive and hold the scrum together, and then you have the flankers and No. 8, quick on their feet and supporting the backs, as well as adding the extra shove.

Taking away scrums essentially allows you to put 8 flankers on a pitch, which is something any team would love to do.

There has been a lot of hype in the past week about this being the closest fought league in years. Captains should do their utmost to make sure that the league is played in the spirit of the game.

Uncontested scrums should not be a safety option.

All captains, especially in the first division, should feel a slight sense of shame when they admit they are not able to play the whole game of rugby.