France to target the Bok scrum

2010-06-10 09:53

Gavin Rich

Cape Town - The new-look Springbok scrum will face its severest test yet when South Africa face France at Newlands on Saturday.

The last time these two sides met in Toulouse last November the French laid the platform for their win around a ferocious scrumming effort, with that aspect of the game determining the momentum which France feasted off en route to a 20-13 victory that was probably more emphatic than that scoreline suggests.

Veteran French hooker Dimitri Szarezewski agreed that the Bok scrum would be targeted.

“We have only seen highlights so far of the Welsh game so have not had a close look at their scrumming in that match, but once we have done our video session I am sure it is an area we will be targeting,” said Szarzewski.

However, although the Bok scrum did struggle against Wales, since the Toulouse match seven months ago there have been key changes to the Bok front-row that should make them a stronger unit.

The week after the French test on the last end of year tour, the Bok scrum was exposed for the first hour by Italy. But in the last quarter the game changed when BJ Botha came on at tighthead prop and John Smit moved back to hooker.

It was to prove the end of the Smit at tighthead experiment, as the same front-row was then selected for the following Test against Ireland in Dublin. The Boks lost at Croke Park, but the scrumming was solid, more solid perhaps than it had been for most of the year.

That said, scrumming is not one of Ireland’s strong-points at the moment, and the French will pose a different threat. Listening to John Smit speak this week, you get the impression that the Boks acknowledge that, and they have been putting in extra work on their scrumming with new scrum coach, Os du Randt.

The Boks also have Gurthro Steenkamp back as a replacement for CJ van der Linde. Although Van der Linde is effective on both sides of the scrum, last week he was at loosehead. He has played most of his rugby at tighthead.

Just a year ago it seemed that Steenkamp might be going nowhere in his career as his scrumming had been repeatedly exposed at all levels. However, the recent Super 14 season changed all that, with the Bulls scrum taking a significant step forward under the tutelage of Johan van Graan and Steenkamp was a big part of the resurgence.

“Gurthro has put in a lot of hard work on his scrumming and has made some significant improvements that he should be praised for doing,” said Smit.

The emphasis that the Boks are putting into the scrums is something that has been noticed by the French, who may be aware that the South Africans were caught off-guard last time.

“It is true that we dominated the scrum in Toulouse, but this is another game and we know that the Springboks will be waiting for us to attack their scrum. It is going to be very tough,” said Szarzewski.

The 44-capped French hooker is preparing himself for a brutally physical encounter with the Boks, and he knows the French ability to stand up to the Boks physically is one of the main reasons that nation boasts a better record against South Africa recently than does New Zealand or Australia.

“The Springboks play a very physical and direct game, it is part of their culture. Their game is based on a strong pack of forwards, which is similar to France.”


  • thanks - 2010-06-10 10:19

    ....thank Heavens for John Smit NOT playing at no 3... .....thank you, .....thank you...

  • the Raconteur - 2010-06-10 10:28

    Grand slam or no...We will beat the french by 15 points...At least. Please mark my words.

  • BALSAK(alias Blue Bul Hater) - 2010-06-10 10:31

    Ek is 'n VOLBLOED SPRINGBOK ondersteuner, maar ek hoop regtig GUTHRO STEENKAMP word nie weer saterdag OPGEFROMMEL soos laas jaar op die November toer?? Sal hy weer OPGEFROMMEL word????

  • William Shakespeare - 2010-06-10 10:33

    The unspoken truth is that if a Springbok team were selected without any Blue Bulls in it, the Blue Bulls would beat them. Or any other team for that matter. Anyone disagree? Mmmm?

  • Boerseun - 2010-06-10 10:48

    @balsak wou jy dan die weerprobeer se light five gekies het?

  • BALSAK skeurder - 2010-06-10 10:55

    'thanks' i agree 100%,John Smit should never play at 3 again!

  • MB - 2010-06-10 10:58

    @Will Shakespeare. What is your point? A couple of years ago the same could be said about the Sharks. Pointless comment.

  • JW - 2010-06-10 11:29

    The Boks must stay humble and just do the basics right, thinking we are world champions and super 14 champions and trination champions might just let us get a hiding we are not expecting?????

  • D the M - 2010-06-10 11:34

    @the raconteur, dont be so confident, we have only won 2 of our last 7 games against them, and they have more form/established combinations than we do. It will be tight, and could go either way - a better test of our strength than NZ would be right now

  • @William Shakespeare - 2010-06-10 11:54

    What a laughable comment. Typical Bull supporter. At least you actually read and write. Go have brandy and coke wiff a touch of cynide.

  • @BALSAK - 2010-06-10 12:10

    @BALSAK, ...Guthro Steenkamp het 2 weke gelede die stormbarians goed opgefrommel... .....het jy so gou vergeet..??

  • Alan - 2010-06-10 12:17

    I am not a Bulls fan - but I sure respect them. I agree @ Willam S - this year's Bulls probably would beat any rugby team on the planet right now.

  • weak link - 2010-06-10 12:19

    Weak link in Bok-front row = John Smit... .......Tiaan Liebenberg and Gary Botha are much better...

  • mike - 2010-06-10 12:26

    Can we please start talking about the other key factors in this game, because I seriously doubt the scrum is going to be the main deciding factor here. Can we discuss Ricky's poor service and weather Morne will be able to dictate off that crap How about Gio size when trying to retain high balls with big forwards barging towards him. Or the fact that our bench combination has 3 backline players of which 2 are centres? Or that maybe for a clash of this nature we should have picked a harder more physical number 7?

  • Bill - 2010-06-10 12:33

    What about the super 14 Tighhead props from the Stormers and Bulls, will they never get a chance in the Springbok Team. DIV is making a big mistake with the old men and then they are not even playing for South Africa. But oooohh now they want to crawl back because of the WORLD CUP IN 2011. I will not include them in my team!!

  • Bill - 2010-06-10 12:34

    What about the super 14 Tighhead props from the Stormers and Bulls, will they never get a chance in the Springbok Team. DIV is making a big mistake with the old men and then they are not even playing for South Africa. But oooohh now they want to crawl back because of the WORLD CUP IN 2011. I will not include them in my team!!

  • Skrik wakker - 2010-06-10 12:39

    The reality of our scrum is that BJ isn't good enough for the French. Lat week against Wales BJ struggled and it looked like the 2 props of the Stormers in the S14 semi's and finals. We should have selected CJ, WP Nel or Werner Kruger in his place. At least January is big enough to move to prop is BJ struggles!!

  • the Raconteur - 2010-06-10 13:35

    @ d the M. I know the stats mate. Just have this feeling in my gut...Have a ticket on the Railwaystand so i recon ill get to see for myself. Its going to be a humdinger!!! Cant wait

  • Sharkie :-) - 2010-06-10 13:40

    We are forgetting one very important thing: We usually play against France on the End-of-Year Tour and we all know that the coaches usually take a second string side for experimental reasons. This time we are playing them at the beginning of our international season with a (very close to) full strength side. The Frenchies are not playing at home against a weakened Bok side - we are going to murder them! All this nonsense about who is going to dominate in the scrums and... blah blah.... is all just media hype in search of something to write.

  • Jawch - 2010-06-10 14:06

    Come on people what is this bullshit that we always get negative about the Boks. We should put at least 20 points on the French.

  • MitchH - 2010-06-10 15:00

    @William Shakespeare: Are you mad? The Stormers lost to the Bulls by 8 points in the final. Are you saying if we took the best of the Stormers, Sharks and Cheetahs and played at Newlands they would stand no chance of beating the Bulls? Stop talking kak man - we're discussing the Bok scrum here.

  • blou oog - 2010-06-10 15:05

    Werner Kruger should have been in the mix. BJ Botha is not the answer. CJ needs game time. In some way I agree with PDV, if you look at the bulls, stormers and sharks front rows, the massive tackles and work rate in the super 14, i feel the BJ and CJ was off pace.

  • Capey - 2010-06-10 19:16

    Springboks loose by 10

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