Southern Hemisphere SCRUMS on Centre Stage Again?

Would you like to speculate on the future scrums’ performances and likely outcomes for the two impending matches of the TRC 3rd round?

Just about every journalist, scribe or columnist or every now and again is “pressured” by the Chief Editor or similar to make up some news quick in order to keep up sales, particularly 6 days before the big matches. I’ve seen in recent hours some disparate, desperate and even pretty  accurate comments.  Those above mentioned when under the hammer generally appeal to an ancient publishing formula, a combination of creativeness, speculation and facts. In my case I will also use a bit of everything. Next Saturday 6th September we’ll have on display “the hot” New Zealand vs. “the wounded and threatening” Argentina at McLean Park, Napier and “the worried, under performed and embarrassed” Australia vs. “preoccupied and cold sweating” South Africa at Patersons Stadium, Gold Coast.

Have picked a few of the comments made by experts and/or experienced ex-players just to give you an idea of the multicolored spectrum raising for the 3rd round of The Rugby Championship, a serious challenge of hard hitting matches, heavy travelling and world-times changing with a lot of global media magnetized onto every minute of existence. Looking at all the latest developments and scoops in view of the players’ potential for the 2015 England RWC.

SPIRO ZAVOS, reputable rugby columnist for the Sydney Morning Herald’s RUGBY HEAVEN site said: “It’s all black, as in woeful, unacceptable and changes need to be made in every aspect of the Wallabies enterprise, on and off the field. Ewen-Mckenzie-must-axe-underperforming-wallabies”

RICHARD LOE, ex-All Black prop, writing in The NZ Herald website:  “The starting front row all delivered beyond their core roles. Don’t think, with the odd exception, they got enough from the men who came on later in the game. New Zealand needs to be super clinical at both scrum and line out time against those sides, and we can’t drop off for 20 minutes. We can’t let changing personnel later in the game rob us of accuracy and momentum”

NICK FARR-JONES, 1991RWC Winning Wallaby captain interviewed by SBS News, “I keep coming back to what we might say is the Achilles heel of Australian Rugby over the last decade, that our scrum can be vulnerable”

VICTOR MATFIELD, for titled BOKS GO TO SCRUM SCHOOL. The highly decorated Springbok lock said: “The only way to fix the creaking Springbok scrum is by putting in the work on the training field. After they were taught a scrum lesson against Argentina in Salta last week, it was no surprise that the set-piece received a lot of attention this week. Matfield admitted the scrums were a source of concern. The clash placed the scrums under the magnifying glass as the home side again dominated the scrums.

DANIEL HOURCADE, Pumas Coach: “We are sad for the opportunity lost but very happy with the quality of our performance. We dominated them in the scrums and we were very positive on the other areas . Even though we dominated for 75% of the match, we didn’t capitalise on the opportunities we created. Conversely, the Springboks had fewer opportunities but were very clinical, thus were able to come back and win the match in the last 20 minutes where we should have shut the gates forever.

Therefore, following on my speculations, I dare say the Springboks will be indebted to the Pumas for the “timely wake up call” in the scrums and perhaps even grateful indeed should they beat the Wallabies at the Gold Coast.

Australia coming from the Eden Park hammering more than likely will have very sore egos, bruised bodies and some insecurities about their capabilities especially in the forward pack. Nick Far-Jones has put it very simply and clearly when mentioning the potential vulnerability of our Achilles heel.

 So, what’s going to happen with the two teams that have been “tenderized in the scrums” eight days ago?

I’ll take the easy road; the team with better depth will have better chances! Resilience is a vital factor for every aspect of life, “bounce ability” if you like.

As for the All Blacks, I think they will be carefully bracing themselves and also hoping to have their “full bench right” as Richard Loe did put it. Keep in mind that as they showed on the 12-12 at Homebush Stadium, they are human and can also have an untimely “downer”.  I know from personal experience, when you push them backwards they are a different team.

The PUMAS are smelling blood, they have experienced an “almost win” in Salta and they got the taste for it. Furthermore, they have internally settled down from some of the selections instability of earlier in the season.

What a great opportunity for the Pumas to break the drought against the World Champions at a smaller stadium of rugby mecca. An universal maxim of competitive sport says: The more we win the closer we are to our first loss, and conversely, the more we lose the closer we are to our first win (this would make me 50% happy)

As we are talking this much about the SCRUM, in my book that means two things: a) Scrums are still very important in rugby; and b) They are far from settled.

A number of abnormalities and aberrations have been developing in the last 18 months. I strongly believe, scrums could be simplified and made much safer even further, taking less time to complete by reducing the engagement sequence to just TWO distinctive and well controlled steps:  

1) CROUCH (the players already arrive to this position without the need for the call). So it’s a matter for the referee to call for the second step when both packs are stationery and square


2) PACK (maintaining the scrum stationery and square) then the referee gives the signal for put in “BALL IN THE MIDDLE” so both teams can contest it. When the ball leaves the hands of the scrum half, then the 16 players may push.

The separation of both packs at the CROUCH, must be sufficient for both front rowers to uncoil their bodies and to adopt a SAFE PUSHING POSITION (a) back parallel to the ground; b) fully extended spine and not ear to ear).                                   For happy pushing and happy endings too!

Enrique TOPO Rodríguez                                                                                                     +


About toporod

Triple Rugby Union International (1977-1991) The ART of SCRUMMAGING - 2013 Gold Medal Winning Author - [IPPY] - 2014 Silver Medal Winner [eLit Awards] - Enthusiastic writer on Rugby and Bipolar Disorders - International Rugby Consultant and Public Speaker -
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