The tight head prop in your rugby front row

Ideal characteristics of the tight head prop:

  • Tends to be bigger than the loose head.
  • The cornerstone of the scrum, so needs to be one of the strongest players in the side and the best scrummager.
  • The balance between contribution in the loose and scrum ability falls heavily towards the latter.

Binding options: Against the opposition

Law 20.3 (d) Binding by tight head props.

  • A tight head prop must bind on the opposing loose head prop by placing the right arm outside the left upper arm of the opposing loose head prop.
  • The tight head prop must grip the loosehead prop’s jersey with the right hand only on the back or side.
  • The tight head prop must not grip the chest, arm, sleeve or collar of the opposition loose head prop.

The tight head must try to push forward with his left shoulder so it is in front of the hooker’s right shoulder – this allows him to bind on the opposition loose head square.

The tight head (the player on the left) has his arm over the loose head. The hand is gripping the shirt on the side, though it could be reaching higher up. The high elbow suggests there is no downward pressure on the opposition prop.

Secrets of tight head binding:

  • Get the left shoulder out – with the binding over the loose head’s arm, it is easy not to promote the left shoulder and therefore it can become twisted.
  • Andrew Millward: “If the tight head wants to stop the wheel then he pushes his left shoulder back creating a smaller gap for the oppositon hooker to aim at. It keeps the loose head out of the game.”
  • Jason Leonard, British Lions and England prop, on the role of a tight head: “Trying to keep the loose head down so the hooker can’t see the ball.”

This article is from my Secrets of the Front Row manual.

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