Something troubles me about the current refereeing approach to wheeling at the scrum. It's a bit hard to articulate, but something just doesn't seem right.
Formerly, around, say, 2000, there were loads of turnovers for scrums going through 90 degrees. Now, you might only see something like one a season. As things stand at the moment, if the team in possession stays level on the th side and goes forward enough on the loosehead side, the interpretation that the th side has to not go backwards during a wheel means that the defending team will be penalised for illegal wheeling. The current interpretation is illogical because there are different sets of rules for the team in possession and the defending side. The only way there'll be a turnover is if both tightheads are seen to go backwards
I believe I'm right in saying that wheeling was never actually illegal. Whipping the scrum, or pulling back on the th side is what's actually not allowed. But the current interpretation sees tighthead props get penalised as if they had pulled back when they actually only got pushed back.
There was the farcical decision from Nigel Owens in the 2nd Test against NZ in 2012 when he penalised the Irish scrum, saying "That is not a straight wheel. You are walking it around". There's a big difference between getting pushed back, or even allowing yourself to be pushed back, and pulling back to whip the scrum.
Pulling back should obviously be illegal, as it's dangerous, but I think we need to go back to allowing wheeling, because it's a clever tactic for teams with less powerful scrums to use, and, I think, would discourage teams from using the scrum to generate penalties. Powerful scrums would have to be wary of being wheeled and consequently losing possession - even if they were moving forward - and would, in theory, be more inclined to get the ball in and out
Maybe the thinking is that wheeling was dangerous, and they wanted to try to limit it in the game? I think the current interpretation just leaves teams no option but to try their best to meet power head on, and encourages teams with powerful scrums to try to win penalties, which is complete anti-rugby in my view