... is to have a powerful scrumming unit is having all eight guys working towards the same goal and everyone doing their bit
THE front-row personnel has changed fairly significantly this season, yet the Lions have remained the strongest scrumming unit in the country and one of the best in Super Rugby. So what’s the secret, if there is one?
“Well, the key to having a powerful scrumming unit is having all eight guys working towards the same goal and everyone doing their bit,” said Lions scrum doctor Julian Redelinghuys (pictured).
“At the Lions it’s something we’ve been driving at for some time that if all eight guys do their part, stopping the scrum becomes very difficult.”
With just a few rounds to go in this year’s competition, the Lions have won 92 percent of their scrums, which has allowed them to attack from quality front-foot first-phase ball, and it’s won them a number of penalties and got them out of trouble when they’ve been pinned in their own half.
“To have a strong and dominant scrum, you need synergy and co-operation and we have that,” said Redelinghuys, a former Springbok tighthead.
“Crucially, you need your flanks and your eighthman to work hard, too. They play a very big part and while it’s always the props who get the credit when the scrum functions well, you can’t ignore what these guys do. They don’t get noticed but they’re just as important.
“It’s about putting in the extra work even if no one sees it and in other parts of the game those hard-working loosies are repaid when the props assist them in the line-outs, in the cleans, and the carries.
“It’s all about helping the guy next to you, working for him and each other.”
The Lions’ specialist loosehead prop Dylan Smith said it was a case of honing the skills over a long period of time and continually working at perfecting those skills and techniques that lead to success on the field.
“Our former scrum coach Balie Swart instilled many good habits and techniques here, and those have been carried forward by Julian (Redelinghuys),” said Smith, who remains one of the Lions’ key front-row forwards. “Yip, it’s all about all the forwards working together at scrum time, and when that happens the results are there for everyone to see.”
The Lions have remained a powerful unit without the services of the departed Ruan Dreyer and Jacques van Rooyen, for so long the cornerstones of the Lions’ scrum, as well as back-up prop Corné Fourie. But in Smith, Sti Sithole and WP import Carlu Sadie, the Lions have found more than capable replacements.
Johannes Jonker, Frans van Wyk and veteran Jacobie Adriaanse have also all played their part at scrum time.
Redelinhuys said the contribution made by former Lions scrum guru and 1995 World Cup winner Swart was invaluable.
“He is an unbelievable coach and certainly my mentor and he deserves a lot of the credit for how the Lions scrumming has improved in the last few years.”
Lions boss Swys de Bruin will today name his team for the Round 13 match against the Highlanders at Ellis Park on Saturday (3pm kick-off).