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Heidi Thibert, John Wingfield, Bob Bradley, Scott Moore and Brian McCutcheon

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Edward J. Bradley, Bob Hogg and David T. Archer

This study examined whether changes in scrum engagement laws from the “crouch-touch-set” in 2013 to the “PreBind” engagement from 2014 onward have led to changes in scrum characteristics, specifically timing, in international rugby union. Duration and outcomes were identified for all scrums occurring in the 2013–16 Six Nations (N = 60 games) using video analysis. Scrum duration increased after the introduction of the PreBind engagement from 59 s in 2013 to 69 s in 2016 (P = .024, effect size = 0.93). A significant increase in mean contact duration per scrum occurred when prebinding was adopted (P < .05), moving from 7.5 s under the crouch-touch-set process to 8.5, 10.0, and 10.8 s with PreBind in 2014, 2015, and 2016 (effect size = 0.71, 2.05, and 3.0, respectively). The number of scrum resets and collapsed scrums, along with early engagement and pulling down infringements, was lower under the PreBind process. Overall, the PreBind engagement resulted in longer scrums with significant increases observed in overall and contact durations, with improved stability-related characteristics. The longer contact time is a consequence of increased stability with a shift from high-energy impact to a sustained push phase with a lower force that is a benefit to player welfare.