Demystifying Scrums: Understanding Their Occurrence and Impact in a Rugby Match

Rugby is a dynamic and physically demanding sport, and one of its most distinct features is the scrum. The scrum is a method of restarting play after certain infractions, and it serves as a crucial aspect of the game. In this article, we will explore the frequency of scrums in a rugby match, examine the reasons for their occurrence, and delve into the factors that impact the number of scrums. Additionally, we will highlight teams that are known for their proficiency in scrummaging.

How Many Scrums Occur in a Rugby Match?

The number of scrums in a rugby match can vary significantly depending on several factors. On average, a match can see anywhere from 10 to 20 scrums, though this can differ based on the style of play, the teams involved, and the nature of the game itself.

Why Do Scrums Occur?

Scrums occur for various reasons, but the primary purpose is to restart play after certain rule infringements or when the ball becomes unplayable. Here are the main situations that lead to scrums:

  1. Knock-Ons: If a player accidentally knocks the ball forward and it goes out of their hands, resulting in a loss of possession, a scrum is awarded to the opposing team. This restarts play and provides an opportunity for both teams to contest for the ball.
  2. Forward Passes: When a player passes the ball forward towards their teammate, it is considered an infringement. In this case, a scrum is awarded to the opposing team at the spot where the forward pass occurred.
  3. Ball Held Up in Goal Area: If an attacking player is prevented from grounding the ball in the opposition’s in-goal area by excellent defending, a scrum is formed. The attacking team gets the put-in at the scrum, giving them another chance to score.
  4. Unplayable Rucks and Mauls: In situations where the ball becomes trapped and cannot be cleanly played, such as a collapsed ruck or maul, a scrum is formed to restart play.

What Impacts the Number of Scrums?

Several factors influence the number of scrums in a rugby match:

  1. Game Style: Teams that prefer a more expansive and open style of play may have fewer scrums as they focus on ball movement and avoiding contact situations. Conversely, teams that emphasize physicality and forward dominance may engage in more scrums to assert their strength.
  2. Tactical Approach: The tactical decisions made by teams can impact the number of scrums. For example, a team trailing on the scoreboard may opt to kick for touch, winning a lineout instead of taking a scrum, to gain territorial advantage.
  3. Skill Levels: Teams with excellent handling skills and ball retention may commit fewer errors that lead to knock-ons and forward passes, resulting in fewer scrums.

Teams Known for Their Proficiency in Scrums

Several teams have earned a reputation for their prowess in scrummaging:

  1. England: The English national team has historically been renowned for their strong scrummaging, often dominating their opponents and creating a platform for attack.
  2. New Zealand: The All Blacks consistently demonstrate exceptional technique and power in the scrum, enabling them to exert control over matches.
  3. South Africa: The Springboks’ physicality and technical proficiency in the scrum have long been recognized as a formidable force in international rugby.
  4. Georgia: Known for their traditional emphasis on forward play, the Georgian national team has built a reputation for their dominant scrummaging in international competitions.


Scrums play an integral role in the fabric of rugby, providing a restart and an opportunity for teams to contest for possession. While the number of scrums in a match can vary, they occur in specific situations such as knock-ons, forward passes, and unplayable rucks. Factors like game style, tactics, and skill levels can influence the frequency of scrums. Teams like England, New Zealand, South Africa, and Georgia have showcased exceptional scrummaging abilities throughout their rugby history. Scrums serve as a dynamic and compelling aspect of the game, highlighting the physicality and technical expertise required to succeed in this exhilarating sport.

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