What's wrong with the scrum laws in rugby union? - Judgment, truth and refereeing
Taylor & Francis
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Officiating and the role of officials in sport are crucial and often decisive factors in sports contests. Notable contributions in philosophy of sport include Collins (2012), Russell (1997; 1999), McFee (2011) & Mumford (2006) have brought a sharp philosophical focus to highlight that justice and desert of sport contests, in part, rely on officiating truths (performances) that arise from an appropriate admixture of epistemic (judgments) and metaphysical (actions) ingredients. This paper provides a rigorous and original philosophical analysis of the problems of obeying the rules and of applying the rules of sport. The paper focuses on a particular phase of play in rugby union, namely the scrum. It is fair to say that the scrum has become a focus of criticism and bewilderment. Elite televised rugby is damaged as a spectacle because too much time is wasted setting and re-setting scrums. Furthermore, our trust in the fairness of games is eroded because the scrum is a ‘lottery’ when it comes to officiating. In this paper, we identify two fundamental structural problems which contribute to the scrum controversy. First, drawing on Mumford (2006) and Collins (2012) we argue that officials cannot make reliable judgments about scrums because they cannot see what they need to see. Secondly, we argue that players cannot follow the laws of the scrum even if they have a strong desire to do so. Laws which can’t be followed are, according to Fuller (2000) defective. Consequently, the scrum is not only potentially dangerous but also flawed in terms of its capacity to actualize an intended part of the game.
Sport, Ethics and Philosophy;
Jones, Carwyn, Hennessy, Neil & Hardman, Alun (2017) 'What’s Wrong with theScrum Laws in Rugby Union? — Judgment, Truth and Refereeing', Sport, Ethics and Philosophy. DOI: 10.1080/17511321.2017.1377759
This article was published in Sport, Ethics and Philosophy on 28 September 2017 (online), available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17511321.2017.1377759
Cardiff Metropolitan University (Grant ID: Cardiff Metropolian (Internal))
- Sport Research Groups 
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