PRETORIA - It is clear as daylight that the Springboks are the worst scrumming team in the Rugby Championship this year, if Sanzaar’s official website stats are to be believed.
The Springboks have an 88 percent success rate in the scrums, one percentage lower than Argentina while the Wallabies are second with 91 percent and the All Blacks obviously leading the pack with 100 percent.
And it won’t help the Springboks’ cause the fact that their best tighthead this year, Coenie Oosthuizen, is not available after sustaining a broken arm in the 23-23 draw against the Wallabies in Perth two weeks ago.
But the stats are just that, and the reality is that the Springboks possess one of the most lethal and powerful scrums in the Rugby Championship according to Wallabies prop Sekope Kepu.
Kepu knows all about being in the grip of a Springbok scrum and along with the rest of his teammates they would have been left looking for the remnants of their egos in the aftermath of the masterclass of a scrumming performance by the South Africans in the Test in Perth.
“I think in this season, in particular, they’ve put a lot of teams under the sword. They’ve gone back to using that (scrum) to their strength so that’s the challenge that we have to face,” Kepu said.
“They always have a very good frontrow and they have big boys there to fill in for whoever. Against the All Blacks they troubled them a bit in the front-row, so I think they lose nothing in terms of who they have at tighthead,” Kepu added on the absence of Oosthuizen.
But the Wallabies will head off to Bloemfontein looking at making amends for how they buckled in that second half in Perth but also looking at building on the surprising scrum dominance they were able to muster in their win against Argentina last week.
“Probably from the outside you think it looked alright and quite good (against Argentina). We are always looking to dissect how we went and there is still improvement there. We were by no means happy with that, we just got to keep on building that consistency," Kepu said.
"The South Africans have got a great scrum and they have used that as a weapon in the last few games and it is something that is a strength of theirs and something that we will have to front up with on the weekend.”
The Wallabies will feel stronger than they have been in the past two Test in the scrums with former captain Stephen Moore likely to start at hooker after being on paternity leave but they will thread with a bit of caution considering that the Springboks held their own in the scrums against the All Blacks.
“We took the foot off the throat a little bit. I felt that in that first half we did well to put pressure on them ... But then a week ahead they did well against the All Blacks and there were a lot of massive battles out there. Going back to how we finished in Perth, it’s the challenge of finishing teams and nullifying those little issues before it actually happens.
"We spoke about all about those things in the week against Argentina and now it’s back to the Boks so we have to fix what we didn’t do in the second half there (in Perth),” said Kepu.