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The Art of Scrummaging

During the 1940s and 1950s scrums were a vital part of Rugby League. These were the days of unlimited tackles, and gaining possession of the football was of paramount importance for any successful side. With as many as 50 or 60 scrums in some matches during the inter-war period, this meant that the hooker and field side prop were key positions, as it was their job to compete for the ball in the scrum. Consequently, many ‘tricks’ were employed by the players who carried out these roles. When one Australian hooker asked what tactics he should use in English scrums, ‘cheat’ was the alleged reply. Subsequent rule developments, such as limited tackles and the hand over, have vastly reduced the importance and number of scrums, along with the specialised role of the hooker and field side prop.