The beginner's guide to scrummaging skulduggery by HAMISH BIDWELL

Forum » Rugby » The beginner's guide to scrummaging skulduggery by HAMISH BIDWELL

Jun 23, 2017, 18:53

The scrums were a frustration for everyone when the Crusaders met the Lions.


With all due respect to props, scrums are an absolute bore to most rugby watchers.


Sadly for those folk, the arrival of the British and Irish Lions has only elevated the significance of scrummaging. Often just a mechanism for re-starting play and giving backs additional space in Super Rugby, the Lions base the bulk of their game on scrums.


Scrum penalties help them exit their own half, then generate points in opposition territory. They also eat up time and tire the other team and generally enable the Lions to feel good about themselves.


South Africa's Jaco Peyper will control the first test between the All Blacks and Lions.


It's not just the Lions who feel good about the Lions' scrummaging. The referees have tended to as well and the All Blacks will be nervous about what Jaco Peyer, Jerome Garces and Romain Poite have in store for them during the three-test series.

Scrums are sure to have an impact on the result so here's a guide to what's happening, why it's happening and how the Lions are getting away with it.



What's fair game?


In basic terms, there should be a gap between the competing props prior to the engagement. They're then meant to engage square and push square. But, as we've seen already on this tour, southern and northern hemisphere referees have interpreted things differently, leading to freekicks, penalties and even a penalty try.


What's different?


Australia's Angus Gardner refereed the scrums rather differently to others on this Lions tour.

Australia's Angus Gardner refereed the scrums rather differently to others on this Lions tour.


Northern hemisphere refs, illustrated by Frenchmen Pacal Gauzere, Mathieu Raynal and Garces, insist on the gap. In Super Rugby, teams get away with what's called a "pre-engage" which basically means no gap at all.  Raynal was particularly keen on keeping the gap, when the Crusaders met the Lions, and things degenerated from there.


The further apart the teams engage from, the greater chance things will go askew and invite the ref to blow his whistle.


By contrast, Australia's Angus Gardner let the Highlanders scrummage the way they're used to, which then had the Lions crying foul.



What are the Lions up to?


Complicating matters in the Crusaders game was the strength of the home team's loosehead props Joe Moody, then Wyatt Crockett. The pair also share the loosehead role in the All Blacks.


Moody put a lot of pressure on Lions tighthead Tadhg Furlong and the response was for he and his team-mates to all take a step left in an effort to "whip wheel" the scrum.


So what?


Referees are believed to favour the "dominant" scrum. Human nature means they'll sometimes decide before the game's even kicked off.


Plenty of players and coaches point the finger at Peyper, in that regard. He awarded the Lions a penalty try in last Saturday's win over New Zealand Maori, when a scrum was wheeled and the home scrum splintered.


The Maori felt the Lions turned the scrum yet got the reward because Peyper deemed they were the dominant side.


The situation was similar in the Crusaders game, where the hosts felt Raynal favoured the Lions.




To add to the confusion, teams are sometimes regarded as having "earned the turn".


The Highlanders did just that, gaining a match-winning penalty to boot.


Replacement props Aki Seiuli and Siosuia Halanukonuka hit square and drove square. The scrum eventually turned because the Lions' tighthead dropped his right shoulder to do what's known as "escape the power."


Referee Gardner blew a penalty to the Highlanders and Marty Banks kicked the goal that won the match.


Scrumming for penalties


In general terms, the Lions possess an immensely powerful and impressive scrum and indulge in few illegalities.


One tactic they do favour, in order to win penalties, is to keep the ball in the scrum for an extended period. In their win over the Chiefs, for instance, they were even doing that in their own territory.


Referee Garces ruled in their favour and they were able to kick to touch in the Chiefs' 22 and drive from a lineout.


Typically Super Rugby scrums will be over and done with within eight seconds. The Lions wil hold the ball in for up to 20. Scrums that last that long often collapse or disintegrate, leaving referees with a decision to make.


Unhappy hookers


Hookers actually hooking is something of a lost art. Injured All Blacks hooker Dane Coles is one of the few who're left. The pressure on the hooker's body makes that difficult for starters, plus the act of hooking is said to rob a scrum of 30 per cent of its impetus.


Jamie George will start at hooker for the Lions on Saturday and is one who does not hook. The Lions will instead look to drive, or walk, over the ball, rather than hook it.


Typically, a hooked ball will get to a No.8's feet in eight tenths of a second. Walking over the ball, as the Lions do, takes considerably longer and, again, increases the chances of referee intervention.


Watch for the All Blacks to put the squeeze on George to prevent the Lions walking over the ball. That could lead to the ball just sitting there, with no-one able to strike for it.


Peyper's reputation for favouring dominant scrums means this facet of the game will be very keenly contested.



Jun 23, 2017, 18:56

 If this element of the Lions game doesn't go well they will have a hard time winning. I hope the ABs can adjust to Peyper's calls and as long as he is consistent they will. 

Jun 24, 2017, 00:46

Moody put a lot of pressure on Furlong....that's a pretty fiction. Moody coudn't pressure a marshmellow with a hammer.

Jun 24, 2017, 01:07

 Ha ha Mozart, we will see how he does against the marshmallow tomorrow:P Of course we hope the ref rules correctly.

Jun 24, 2017, 08:32

Aaah ... I see the ref's been brought in early.

I guess you have your excuse ready, hey Wanker.

Well ... I hope he gives most of the 50/50 calls to the Lions for a change. That would be refreshing.

Go Peyper!!!!!! ... Go Lioonssssssssss!!!!

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