The locks aren’t pulling their weight. That’s the verdict of Lions head coach Johan Ackermann about the Springbok scrum.
The Bok pack have been pulverised in their last two meetings, against Argentina in the Rugby Championship, resulting in Heyneke Meyer’s team scraping victories in Pretoria and Salta.
And Ackermann knows a thing or two about scrumming. He played lock for the Boks on 14 occasions and was regarded as one of the best scrummagers of his generation. He is also currently in charge of the Lions, whose scrum was deemed the best and most successful in the Super Rugby competition and they’re again hurting their opponents in the Currie Cup.
“What I saw at the weekend (against Argentina) is the locks aren’t pushing ... it’s as simple as that,” said Ackermann yesterday. “Their shape wasn’t good, but the whole pack can work on their unity as well. They’re not assisting each other.”
The Bok front row has copped plenty of criticism for their poor scrumming effort over the last two weekends, but Ackermann says the secret to a good scrum is having all eight forwards working together.
“Maybe the (Bok) locks feel the front row isn’t giving them the platform, but that’s where unity comes in,” said Ackermann. “You’ve got to know exactly what height and shape you’re going to go in on, but it’s not something you can see in training. Things happen during the game and you have to adjust. If the front row is struggling then the locks have to tell them to fix their shape and vise versa.
“A lock must be hard on his prop and a prop must be hard on his lock ... they’ve got to talk to each other.”
Ackermann also pointed to the size of the front row in it being successful or not at scrum time. “The combination is vital ... it’s always beneficial to have a front row of similar size. A small tighthead and a tall loosehead or the other way round can be problematic. At the Lions we’re fortunate to have players of similar size.
“I know there’s a lot of talk about the Lions’ props and yes, they’ve been excellent; they’re strong, their shape is good and their technique is good, but the real secret is we’re scrumming as a unit. It’s a whole eight-man performance.”
The Boks are currently preparing for their trip to Australasia where they will meet Australia and New Zealand in back-to-back Rugby Championship matches. Ackermann says Meyer’s team won’t meet a better scrumming side than Argentina this year.
“Argentina are renowned for their scrumming, they love it and they do it well. We’ll be alright in Australia and New Zealand ... we know the players, we face them in Super Rugby and we know their tricks.”
The Boks leave for Australia tomorrow. - The Star