I was very fortunate over the past few days to get another chance to observe our MNT in training. One of the biggest areas where change has occurred over the past few years is at the scrum. There are more variations on scrummaging than I could possibly cover - bind high, low, high and low, crotch bind, waist bind, pocket bind, balls of feet, splayed feet, lock out, knees bent, bla bla bla.
Much time is being spent improving our scrum, and our MNT scrummaging coach recently did some training with players in Rochester. Clearly this is an area that the MNT staff has identified for improvement in the upcoming world cup.
Rather than dissect the whole thing, I thought it would be useful to post a summary that compares how "we used to do things", with how "we are doing things". Some of he old school methods referred to below may be things you are currently doing, some of the current methods may be things your currently doing. Feel free to comment. Bill LeClerck, the current MNT scrummaging coach, has posted a paper with key points on the usarugby coaches portal - if you've got a chance to check it out, there is a lot of good info there.
|old school||currently endorsed method|
|props sit on locks shoulders||prop and locks are perfectly in line - shoulder to buttocks|
|everybody "looks up", locks looking at their opponent||head is in a neutral position, tongue to teeth, look through the eyebrows to create muscle tension|
|binds are top priority - shoulders "pop out" for a tight fit||binds are a means to an end - body profile is the top priority, binds are designed to channel power forward|
|Scrummaging is a "less important" role for flankers and 8||flankers and 8 are part of the "back 5" and are critical power contributors, participating in all aspects of training previously thought of as "tight 5 time"|
|the tight head prop "leads in", and the rest follow||the back five, but especially #8, drive the props in, so power generation starts from behind|
|forwards engage on an auditory cue from the referee, going on "engage", with the front row generally a spit second ahead of the rest of the pack||the #8 takes his/her cue visually from the hooker to initiate the drive, the remainder of the players, while still "listening" react to the drive behind them as the primary trigger|
|flankers set up in a split legged "sprint start", and maintain the position throughout the scrum||flankers set up in a power position and driving just as hard as locks|
|#8 sets up like a lock and drives off of both legs at engagement||#8 sets up in a sprint start and drops the forward leg back at engagement, effectively "letting off the brake"|
|locks start on their knees, and enter the scrum via the space between the calf and the knee of the prop and hooker, sliding their head up and "locking" it into position||locks start off their knees, in a comfortable power position, and the props and hookers simply let them in|
|locks "hang" from the prop in front of them, treating that playe as a pillar||locks bind in such a way as to apply pressure to the buttock/leg "seam", while the props push back against them for balance. Both players have identical profiles|
|power comes in waves, with an initial drive and secondary drives as distinct phases||pressure and tension are continually in balance until the ball is out of the scrum.|
|locks "lock out", splaying their feet with all 8 cleats in the ground to hold the scrum steady||all 8 stay in a bent legged position applying constant pressure to the individual in front of them, the individual behind them, and the ground|
|upper body and leg strength are considered THE bottom line attributes of a tight five player||core strength is considered THE bottom line attribute of a tight five player|