Tank Lanning

Beware the return of Bajada

2013-08-15 09:13
Sport24 columnist Tank Lanning (File)

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

Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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