There’s a stereotype persisting among certain commentators that scrums in Super Rugby are an afterthought. If you watch the highlight reel from Super Rugby Round 1, it’s easy to see why people think it’s a place where skill and talent reign supreme over the finer arts of structure and defensive manipulation. However, as with most Rugby stereotypes – this is not entirely the case.
In this article we will look at some of the scrums that dominated in Super Rugby Round 1, and how the Kiwi teams used these to win. Let’s start with some huge scrums that led directly to tires.
Super Rugby Round 1 | scrum domination at it’s finest
A well-worked scrum is something we can all appreciate. Check out this effort from the Hurricanes.
They get the push on the Highlanders from the get-go. Notice how the Chiefs then successfully manipulate this scrum to the side that they are attacking. We will get back to this later.
Let’s look at this huge scrum from the Crusaders.
The Crusaders plan to go right, but the scrum is so dominant in this case that it doesn’t matter anyway. Both of these scrums lead directly to tries and were just as effective as the most jaw-dropping backline move on the scoreboard.
But it wasn’t just huge, overpowering scrums that the kiwi teams used. Let’s look at some of the more subtle tactics.
Super Rugby Round 1 | the art of scrum manipulation
A scrum can be a great platform to launch your attacking play, but they can also be shut down with intelligent scrummaging. Here the Waratahs have a red-zone scrum against the Hurricanes. Let’s see how the Canes deal with it.
You will notice the left side of the Canes’ scrum powers through to deliver a knockout blow. By winning on the attacking side of the scrum, the Hurricanes destroy the Waratahs plan to go right.
This is another example of solid defensive scrummaging. The Crusaders don’t let the Blues win on the right-hand side of the scrum. Matt Todd gets off early and joins the defensive line.
The Blues needed to keep the scrum stable or turn it to the right, but couldn’t. Let’s see what happens next.
If the Blues had successfully turned the scrum and locked Matt Todd out of the defensive line, they may have been able to work the overlap here. Instead, the Crusaders successfully apply pressure and stop the move.
But it wasn’t all coming up bad for the Blues. Here’s one the worked a charm.
Here the Blues simply manage to hold the scrum steady. It’s enough for Matt Todd to be left flat-footed and fall off the tackle. Akira Ioane makes huge metres. The Crusaders now have to ‘fold’ around the ruck to defend, while the Blues attackers have a much shorter distance to travel.
We have discussed ‘folding’ before in the below article, where England forced France to fold before scoring a try. You can read it here.
Now it’s time to find out how the Crusaders used their scrum (and Ryan Crotty) to beat the Blues.
Super Rugby Round 1 | how the Crusaders won
Apart from the above example, the Crusaders successfully prevented the Blues from winning scrums. Watch below as that man again Matt Todd prevents the Blues prop from getting an advantageous bind.
He then stands up and gets in the way of Papali’i, who is trying to defend the inside channel. The Crusaders have the upper hand at this scrum. Let’s see what happens.
We can see Collins in the red circle rush to move into the defensive line. Because the ball hasn’t been passed to the Crusaders 10, he doesn’t think a kick is coming. When Bryn Hall kicks out of 9 he can’t scramble back in time. But regardless of the smart kicking play, it was the clean scrum that led to this try.
Now we could discuss another scrum that the crusaders successfully manipulated for the George Bridge break. But as a back, I can only write about scrums for so long. It’s time for some Crotty magic.
The Blues defence looks pretty solid here. But notice how Crotty is looking behind Ennor. His body language is signifying a pass out the back. Like many professionals, the Blues defenders are trained to pick up on subtle cues in the passers body-language. This time it works to their detriment.
Ennor is through a non-existent gap, thanks to a dream pass from Crotty.
Which one of these scrums would you rate the best? Are these good signs for the All Blacks scrum? let us know down below.
Author: The 1014 Rugby and Henry Stokes