World Rugby bans 'axial loading' at scrums to reduce injuries


World Rugby has announced changes to scrum law with immediate effect to help front-row players avoid injuries to their neck and spine.

As a result, ‘axial loading’ - a process of concentrating scrum power on the opposing hooker instead of allowing it to be spread along the shoulders of the opposing front-row has been banned.

The decision was taken in the World Rugby's Law Review Group that comprised of law experts, players, coaches, match officials and elite competition representatives during their two-day summit in London at the end of the last month.

“Following a detailed discussion on the risks associated to front-row players’ necks during the scrum engagement process, the Law Review Group (LRG) also supported a proposed amendment to Law 19 (Scrum) that, if approved, will outlaw the practice of front-rows placing their heads onto opposition players’ shoulders between the call of ‘bind’ and ‘set’," said World Rugby.

“It has been shown that this practice has resulted in potentially dangerous levels of axial loading on front-rows’ cervical spines.

“Given this issue has significant potential welfare implications, it will be actioned immediately.”

The first non-compliance of the rule with result in a free kick and a second offence will lead to penalty with a repeated offence leading to a yellow-card.