HAVE Super League referees developed a soft spot for the competitive scrum or is the occasional blind-eye being turned?

For the last 20 years the restart after a knock on, forward pass or kick to touch has been a lame, uncontested gathering where 12 forwards can lean on each for a breather while the non-offending team puts the ball in and regains it.

In the past teams who have tried to upset the applecart and strike for the ball, or, more likely push the opposing set off it, have either been penalised or seen the scrum re-set and told not to do it again.

But every now and then a few are let go. There were two occasions in last month’s Castleford v Saints game – one on each side – where the defending team managed to apply enough pressure to win the ball back or force an error. They were potentially decisive moments in the game.

In fact with the scores tied and Saints in a good attacking spot for plundering the match-winning drop goal, that Cas last push that forced the turnover allowed the Tigers to go the full length and steal the game.

Is there an unwritten rule that states both teams can have one go each at regaining it, but no more?

Why stop at one? Imagine if every scrum became a 50:50 or at least a 70:30 again.

How soon would it test the patience of the refs, opposition and no doubt the fans if there was a perception that the natural justice of the offending team being punished by losing the ball was not done?

On the plus side, having something resembling a contest at the scrum – even if it simply puts pressure on the man picking it up – should be welcomed.

There is little point in having a scrum if it is simply a handover and a convenient excuse to retain meaning to the names of the positions of front row, second row and hooker.

It has been a long, long time since the number nine ‘raked’ the ball out. That used to be an art form in itself.

When I first started watching rugby league I was always fascinated by how Saints hooker Tony Karalius could contort himself in that confined space on the floor of a scrum to win the ball as the rest of the pack mauled each other.

We can allow ourselves rose-tinted glasses when it comes to scrums, but at times the set-to between the packs in the 1970s favvered two octopuses having the last dance at Cindy’s.

Scrums were never pretty before the clean up in 1982/83 and there is no appetite among the modern game’s followers or players for a return to the dark arts of scrummaging.

But when it is all or nothing, when that turnover needs to be forced, maybe teams should be allowed the one or two strikes a match at putting on a push-off.

We’ll never get our fans shouting 'heave', but I suppose it would give a new meaning to a power play.