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Cockerill critical of scrum changes

Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill has criticised lawmakers for introducing changes to the scrum without consulting any Aviva Premiership coaches.

A new scrum engagement sequence has been introduced aimed at enhancing player welfare by reducing impact, while scrum-halves must now feed the ball straight down the middle of the tunnel.

The adjustments have already been trialled in the Rugby Championship and during pre-season by the Premiership clubs. Cockerill insists the results have been disappointing.

"When they change these laws, nobody asks Premiership coaches about the laws of the scrums. Who changes these things and what's their agenda?" he said at the Premiership launch at Twickenham.

"They say it's for safety, but it looks like the southern hemisphere are just trying to depower the scrum so the ball comes in and out.

"You'd like to think that the people who make and change these laws consult Premiership coaches instead of just doing it.

"We've played a couple of games with these laws and it takes a bit of getting used to, it's been messy.

"We're receiving different messages now, but the scrum is still a mess, so we'll have to see how it settles down. I don't know whether it's depowering the scrum.

"In one of the Rugby Championship games we had two of the best scrum-halves in the world laughing at each other because they were worrying about feeding and getting a red card."

Newcastle director of rugby Dean Richards, involved in the Premiership for the first time since 'Bloodgate', insists the jury remains out on the motivation behind the changes.

"It's been done for the right reasons, for safety reasons so we're told, and hopefully they will come through," he said.

"There's no secret that the southern hemisphere has had agendas in the past in terms of dealing with the laws.

"You'd like to think that when they've said the changes are for safety reasons, that's the reason they've been made. If it's any other reason you'd be disappointed."

Leicester are the defending Premiership champions and Richards expects the Tigers to be among a trio of clubs challenging for the title with 2012 winners Harlequins slipping out of contention.

"The top four will become a top three - Saracens, Leicester and Northampton are the teams to beat," he said.

"Then there is a group of nine clubs who can win on any given day."

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