Both Samoa and Scotland find themselves
above Argentina in the IRB rankings, while Italy are only two places below the
10th placed new boys to the rugby Championship. So having despatched
all three of these sides in the June quadrangular, and finding themselves
second only to the All Blacks on the rankings, the Boks should take the game
against the Pumas at the FNB stadium on Saturday at a canter ...
Should indeed, and they will be
disappointed if they don’t ...
But this game aint played on the IRB
rankings website ...
It is played in front of 80 000 rabid
fans who might be there more for the party or Bafana Bafana game being played
earlier in the day, than the Bok game. It is also played with two scrumhalves
and an eighthman, albeit super talented, who have not played
competitive rugby for a very long time. And it is played with a back-up
tighthead prop who is a loosehead, even though teams are now allowed full front
rows on the bench in a 23 man squad, and even though said loosehead prop has
not cut it at tighthead for his province.
And making it even more spicy is the fact
that it will be governed by new scrum laws that not a single player on either
side has played under. Laws that in their first appearance in the Currie Cup
turned Griquas tighthead Lourens Adriaanse into a man eater, and the Bulls,
long belittled for their inability to scrum, into scrummaging power houses who
made mincemeat of the WP pack at Newlands.
I am just not sure why one would gamble in
your backup tighthead in such a situation? But I have laboured that point enough
in previous columns …
So it is into the unknown for both sides at
FNB on Saturday evening as they come to terms with Crouch - props ear to ear
distance apart, Bind - props pre-bind on each other’s jerseys, Set - active
engagement, reduced hit. And once the scrum is square and stable, the ball is
then fed into the scrum - straight! - once the ref calls “ball in”.
And having coached the new laws at UCT, I
can vouch that it is an entirely different animal. Not different bad though,
just different. And it is going to require a different skill set from props, and
a different approach from packs.
One that might just speak to the famous
Bajada - a scrum technique developed by the Springboks opponents on Saturday ...
There are two defining characteristics of
the Bajada ... One is that all the power is directed into the hooker, in other
words they scrum along an imaginary arrow drawn pointing inwards from either
side of the No 8, which means all the power is directed towards the hooker.
The other, and perhaps more important characteristic
of the Bajada is the 'coordinated push', which sees them act on a three part
call. First all members of the pack tighten their binds and fill their lungs
with air, then everyone sinks to a point where their legs are at 90 degrees,
and thirdly, the pack comes straight forward while violently expelling the air
from their lungs. A key aim is for no one to move their feet until forward
momentum is established.
And if the first drive is insufficient to
get things moving, they go through the call again, with the opposing pack often
caught off guard and pushed back.
The monumental force of the hit went a long
way to nullifying this technique, but under the new call, it could very well
make a comeback.
Like in the Currie Cup on the weekend, and
in the Lions series recently in Australia, rugby matches are so often won and
lost in the front row, and this is perhaps the single biggest concern for the
Boks ahead of their Championship opener against Argentina on Saturday.
Tank is a former Western Province tighthead prop who now heads up Tankman Media, and sprouts forth on all things rugby on the Front Row Grunt …
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