A new scrum law aimed at reducing neck injuries among hookers will be trialed during the upcoming Six Nations, according to reports in England.
The practice of “axial loading” has led to concerns over neck injuries and paralysis for hookers.
Axial loading refers to what happens when the pack leans forward on the “bind” call from the referee at the scrum, when both front rows are no longer supporting their own weight and instead transmitting enormous pressure onto the neck and spine of the two opposing hookers.
The practice was supposed to be banned before the 2019 World Cup, but is still widely in use. It can result in an estimated 100kg of force compressing a hooker’s neck and spine on every scrum.
According to a report in The Times, a law trial in the upcoming Six Nations will make it mandatory for hookers to keep one foot forward during the bind phase of the scrum, acting as a brake before the engage. This will ensure both packs hold their own weight and maintain the gap.
The law will reportedly be in place for the men’s, women’s and U20 Six Nations.
A punishment for hookers not keeping one foot forward on the ground will be a free kick.
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