Five secrets of the front row

1. Engage and chase quickly

At the top level scrummaging is an intense business. “Three second scrums” are the aim (apart from for pushover tries), so the ball is in and out quickly. All the effort comes from the engagement and beyond.

Concentrate on the speed of the feet movement going forwards, using quick, short steps. Calls certainly help with our timing. We use “hit, 1, 2, 3, 4”, and then a quick step “1, 2, 1, 2”. The main piece of advice here is sharpen up your calls.

2. Four locks together

Binding by the flankers at scrum time can be very random. On lots of different levels this can disrupt the scrum effort.

If a flanker can give the prop some support, then you have more weight behind that player. From a communication and timing point of view, if everyone is scrummaging together, the scrum will be better off.

Get your flankers to bind onto the locks BEFORE the locks bind onto the props. This avoids flankers binding late as they wait to find out the back row or backs moves. All the ca, therefore,ore need to be sorted out in advance of the binding.

3. Second row binding options

A long armed lock can struggle with binding through the legs. When the shove comes on, their arm can slip forwards and their shoulder disengage from the best pushing position on the behind of the prop.

A solution here is to turn their hand around, so the palm faces away from the shorts. This grip is more like an Olympic lift position, with the hand still wrapped in the drawstring area of the shorts.

4. All change for 5 metre scrums

It always good to try something completely different for a 5 metre scrum. Some props will use a tactic they have yet to use in the game, like changing the angle of driving. Their prop won’t know what to expect and your’s will hopefully gain the advantage.

With the 5 metre scrum being so crucial and dangerous to the defending side, this difference can cause the sort of disruption which increases pressure on the whole defence. But save the tactic for when it’s needed. If you don’t have a 5 metre scrum, you might not use the technique during the game.

5. Boss your opponent

What should you do at the first scrum of the game? Wait to find out how the other guy is going to scrummage, or impose your own style on him? Don’t bother waiting

First, even if you don’t know their opposite number’s playing style, they can look at their body shape to give them some clues. In the most simple terms, the big guys will use their weight, whilst the smaller props will use technique.

Second, they want to give the other player the problems. And that is “problems” plural, because it’s easier to scrummage against a prop who always does the same thing, no matter how good they do it.

Your props should learn to vary their approach for each scrum.

This article comes from an interview with Andrew Millward, former prop at the Pro 14 team, the Ospreys. Andrew is a WRU level 3 coach, and now general manager at the club.


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