Vodacom Super Rugby
Scrum laws improving game
Bloemfontein – The stricter application of the scrum laws have been the major cause of frustration at the start of the Super Rugby competition, but should make scrumming more competitive in the long term.
That is the view of former Springbok prop and Cheetahs scrumming consultant Os du Randt in the wake of the numerous penalties some frontrankers have conceded in the first two rounds of the tournament.
Du Randt believes that the way loosehead props are currently being penalised may lead to a situation where teams can get right shoulders again like they did in the old days.
Referees were also told to referee the scrums strictly in 2011 – much as they did with the so-called daylight rule at the breakdown last year.
Tappe Henning, one of the South African Rugby Union’s referees coaches, and Balie Swart, who trains referees in scrumming, earlier visited all the South African teams to discuss the new developments.
Du Randt noted that teams are struggling in the scrums, but that there may be an improvement soon.
“The reason for all the penalties are bad habits. The guys have to start getting things right. The referees have made a mental shift and are focusing on the scrums a lot, especially with regards to transgressions by the loosehead.
“That may be a good thing because we may get back to a situation where the guys can get a right shoulder and gain an advantage from it. One hasn’t really been able to get a right shoulder for the past 10 or 15 years because looseheads were always advantaged.
“At this point it’s a frustration. There are small technical things that one has to sort out, but I believe things will go a lot better after the third and fourth rounds.”
The former Bok believes the scrums will be more competitive as a result and the notion behind the application of the laws can be to the benefit of the game.
He noted that it won’t help to criticise referees.
“It may feel as if referees are going overboard because they are applying the law more strictly, but they are merely doing what they have been saying for the past three years they are going to do,” said Du Randt.
He said that looseheads are punished predominantly for three reasons.
“The biggest thing looseheads are struggling with is to get their bind right – and the other thing is the hinging.
“The third problem is to get their timing right with the hit. It makes it more difficult when referees stretch out their call. A player stands there and is anxious. Your discipline from the back has to be good and you can’t engage early.
“Hinging is where your loosehead’s shoulder line goes under his hips and then rises again. The referees want a fair contest and for your shoulder line to remain the same on the hit.
“As soon as the loosehead engages with the tighthead, he is not allowed to move upwards again. They believe it is dangerous and can lead to injuries.”