Rob Houwing, Sport24 chief writer
Cape Town – An Australian-based rugby website suggests a slightly surprise package as most vulnerable Super Rugby scrum in the 2012 season thus far: the Bulls’ pack.
The site www.greenandgoldrugby.com
, active since the 2007 World Cup, has produced statistics after round nine of the competition purporting to show that the Loftus-based side are the biggest infringers at scrum-time.
It has produced a graph headed “percentage of scrums teams concede as infringement”, listing the records in that area for all 15 teams thus far.
“At the end of the day, there’s one measure that really matters (in gauging scrum weakness) ... who gets pinged the most, regardless of feed, ref, opposition.
“Who refs perceive as having the dodgiest scrum whether by mistimed engagement, weak hit or obvious boring, is what ultimately matters.”
According to the listed stats, the Bulls are blown up in 17.9% of their scrums, with the Brumbies next worst offenders at 14.9% and the Hurricanes earning dubious “bronze medal” for 14.7%.
At the strongest end of the table, by contrast, comes a team ironically once branded the southern softies for their perceived lack of broad forward mongrel: the Stormers.
The Capetonians, sharing the SA conference lead with the Bulls in points terms on 33 entering the latest round, apparently only get whistled up against themselves at 7.2% of their scrums, very closely followed by compatriots the Sharks (7.3%) and then the Blues (7.6%).
Seven-time tournament winners the Crusaders, who currently field one of the most revered scrummaging packs, come in fourth (8.7%).
Of course there are “statistics and damned lies”, and referees are often accused anyway of penalising the wrong side at scrums, one of the most subjective areas of the modern game.
But the figures are worth chewing on, all the same.
For all the rightful talk in recent seasons of the three-time champion Bulls’ forward physicality being a key string to their bow, their set scrum has seldom been held up as a thing of special awe.