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Rugby Union Scrum Rules

The aim of scrummaging is to gain territorial ground over your opponents. Rugby scrum rules govern 2 packs of players pushing against each other with all their might.

SCRUMMAGE LAWS: The rugby union laws of scrummaging involve the heaviest and the strongest members of each team.

They huddle down and cram as a group. You will see them straining every muscle and sinew for every inch of advantage that they can claim.

Rugby union scrum rules allow eight (8) players to take part. They get positioned ‘strategically‘ from each team.

Thus, 16 players participate in an apparent mass brawl and crushing scrummage play.

By and large, it is the team’s forward player positions who take on the role of scrummaging. Scrummage action always takes place as close as possible to the same spot on the field where the original regulation infringement actually happened.

Rugby Scrum Rules

As a rule, the referee uses a scrum to restart the game after any of the following plays:

  • An accidental offside.
  • The ball did not come out from rucks and mauls.
  • A knock-on.
  • If the ball gets passed forward.

When the forwards are forming a scrum it must get conducted at least five meters from any touch line and either of the two try-lines.

The man-made wedges are notoriously difficult for the referee to officiate. Because of this, scrummaging presents opportunities, mainly for the overcrowded front row of the pack, to commit ‘out of sight‘ illegal moves and rule-breaking offences.

Binding in the Scrum Laws

  • The match referee closely scrutinizes rugby scrum rules for bindings by the front row.
  • Rugby props must use their whole arm (hand to shoulder) to bind with the body of their opponent. It should be at or below armpit level and they should grasp their shirt from the side or the back.
  • Maneuvering and manipulating your opponent’s body position often gets you significant advantage in the push. But, referees meticulously monitor this for health and safety reasons.
  • Rugby scrummaging laws do not allow you to engage by going underneath and grabbing the shirt collar or upper arm sleeve.
  • A penalty ensues against the offending team for dipping, twisting, or collapsing a rugby union scrum.

Rugby Union Scrum Rules: Front Row Offences

  • Rugby union tight-head props often try to bore their heads into the hooker. They do this instead of engaging square on with their opponent. The aim is to limit the movement of the opposing hooker.
  • You may also see a tight-head prop’s body suddenly pop out during the scrum. It happens if an unscrupulous opposing loose-head prop makes a subtle shift of his body position pushing hard into his chest.

These scrummaging moves are both illegal. Check the codified regulations of rugby union to see how they get punished with penalties, as a rule.


Basics of Rugby: A simple list of the most important regulations of rugby.
Forming a Scrum: How to form the scrum according to Rugby Union Rule 20.1.
Rugby Equipment List: A checklist of basic match kit needed for the game.
Rugby Union FAQ: Find the answers to the most asked questions in rugby.
Rugby Maul Rules: How rugby union laws of the game govern rucking and mauling.
Rugby Player Positions: How do 15 players fulfill different roles and responsibilities?
Rugby Terminology: A concise list of rugby terms and phrases from A-Z.
Rugby Laws and Official Rules Book [PDF Download Option].

Rugby Union Scrum Rules used in the United Kingdom