A software development team using the agile development approach relies heavily on the scrum methodology to complete a project as efficiently as possible. Agile scrum describes an approach in the world of software development in which a product development team completes tasks throughout the project in incremental and iterative stages, often referred to as “sprints.” When using the agile approach to scrum, a team works as a united unit striving for a common goal and mutually empowering each other by allowing strong lines of communication between all members of the group.

In the game of rugby, a scrum refers to the method of restarting the match after a minor infraction of the rules. During a scrum in a rugby match, players group together with their heads down and attempt to take possession of the ball (and ultimately win the match). Much like scrum’s agile approach to software development, to succeed or gain ownership, a strong rugby team with self-managed roles works together for a common goal. Much like agile scrum software development, a rugby scrum relies heavily on strong communication between all players, with each player fulfilling a specific role to the best of their ability.

4 important similarities between Agile Scrum and Rugby Scrum

Software developers using the agile approach are well aware that the scrum methodology has its roots in the sport of rugby and many of the principles in the framework are fundamental to the game. Like scrum rugby, agile scrum uses many essential techniques for your team to be as successful as possible. Follow the instructions for four important similarities between agile scrum and rugby:

  1. Teamwork – In the sport of rugby, the team must move around the field passing the ball many times to advance towards the goal. It is not possible for a single player, no matter how skilled, to score without the help of the rest of the team. In agile scrum, there is no team member working alone without the help of other team members during sprints. A good agile scrum team should be organized and able to pass the work from one team member to the next as easily as possible.
  2. Multiple skill sets – Each position on a rugby team requires a specific skill set and a certain body type that must be combined with the other players on the team to further the team’s goal. Agile scrum is very similar in that teams are made up of cross functional groups using self-managed roles. Each team member presents their unique skill set to complete specific project tasks.
  3. Adaptability – Working as a cohesive unit, a rugby team must use good judgment during the fast pace of the game. Each play is very different, and the team must be flexible in determining the cost of risking having a chance to beat their opponent. In agile scrum, backlog can and will likely be re-prioritized during each phase of the project. The product development team must be flexible to adapt to each change made by stakeholders in the order book to move forward as efficiently as possible.
  4. Culture – In rugby, there is a strict code of conduct that every player adheres to both on and off the field. The culture of the sport is carried out with a high level of respect between each player, which unites the players throughout the game as a strong and united group. As with the sport of rugby, agile scrum promotes a strong set of values ​​that each team member must adhere to in order to shape scrum team behaviors. In Agile scrum, important values ​​include: commitment, focus, openness, courage, and respect. Adhering to these values ​​enables a development team to operate effectively as a self-managed cross-functional team developing the best possible product.

The agile development approach of scrum has many traces of scrum rugby in its origins. Given this, there are many similarities in how each team approaches a game or project. With inspiration and guidance from the sport of rugby, the field of software engineering has made significant strides in product development through the agile approach of scrum.

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