Gosper's scrum of comfort
The new scrum laws appear to have had a positive impact in the first month of operation despite some criticism, International Rugby Board chief executive Brett Gosper has insisted.
The 'crouch, bind, set' sequence, aimed at reducing the impact on players of the 'hit' and cutting the number of scrum collapses, has been introduced for an initial 12 months' trial period.
Leicester director of rugby Richard Cockerill has criticised the new laws, claiming there has been a lack of consultation, while the club's hooker Tom Youngs fears the new laws put him at greater risk.
Gosper insisted, however, that the positive feedback far outweighed the negative.
He told Press Association Sport: "We are generally getting pretty encouraging and positive feedback.
"There are some detractors but they generally tend to be around the fact there are a few more penalties than there have been, which is absolutely normal with the running-in period of new laws when people understand the referee is serious.
"It is very early days, we are one month into 12, but anecdotally we sense it is a more stable scrum and that players are more comfortable in the positions than they were.
"There was a general consensus that there was a crisis point, particularly in the northern hemisphere where we were seeing far more scrum collapses and lower outcomes of successful scrums.
"It was in crisis, there were multiple collapses and beyond the issue of player welfare we hope this will have an impact on the aesthetics of the game."
Asked about Youngs' remarks about feeling more at risk, Gosper said there was no evidence that was the case.
He added: "We are not seeing anything that backs them up. I can understand some are feeling uncomfortable with the process of change as they have had their body position the same for the last 10 years and someone is saying 'now you have to change' and they probably feel a bit vulnerable.
"Certainly none of the early statistics is backing up there is a health risk but we will absolutely monitor that."
Gosper also defended the IRB's decision against Cockerill's criticism that they had merely created "a different kind of mess" in the scrum.
He said: "I read Richard Cockerill's statement and I got the feeling that, with great respect to his experience, he felt a bit irked that he wasn't personally involved in discussing the changes.
"We did consult widely with a broad array of scrum coaches at international level because we tend to dialogue with the unions and not the clubs - it's the unions who speak to the clubs, that's the protocol.
"I think he was a lone though obviously influential voice not accepting of the change and I don't think that's a general view."