There’s a no-holds-barred agreement between the Stormers forwards during training days, and they have a go at each other when they pack down for scrums and in the line-outs.
This, together with the knowledge they share in the team, is currently one of the reasons they rated as one of – if not the best – packs in the two European competitions they play in.
Seeing their scrum dominating the best players from French, Irish and English clubs has been rewarding for the Cape side’s forwards coach, Rito Hlungwani.
The former Stormers lock-turned-coach explained that their scrum success is thanks to everyone buying into the culture they built (and continue to build) even after losing Rugby World Cup winners Steven Kitshoff to Ulster and Frans Malherbe to injury.
“It’s very competitive and brutal at the same time,” Hlungwani said yesterday about the scrummaging sessions.
“The guys go at each other – that is the standard we set for ourselves, and we stay true to that.
“What makes it special is that the guys are learning in this environment, and they feed off each other. But it is tough and very challenging.
“When you see our best scrummagers being scrummed at training, then we know that guy on the other side is ready to be exposed to a game.
“That is what makes it nice for us. The next guy is always ready because he gets tested by the sheer brutality of how we train.
“Learning from each other, pushing each other … That is what we pride our scrum and mauls on.”
Although the focus is on what the front-rankers do when they pack down against opponents, Hlungwani pointed out that the importance of the locks and loose forwards should not be underestimated.
He said that there is a constant dialogue in the Stormers’ pack of forwards between the tight five and loose trio as to how they want things to be going when scrumming.
“Everyone collectively has taken responsibility in making sure that they perform their role to the best of their ability to make sure the scrum goes well. In our Monday reviews, the props will give feedback to the back five and their thoughts around the performance.
“The locks always want feedback from the props.
“We are in a very good space at the moment. If there are eight forwards on the field, all eight scrum to make sure it’s successful.
“Everyone gets involved, and we never dial it down.
“We get to face a Welsh team one weekend, then a South African, then a French side the next. That helps you improve in dealing with different scenarios (on the field).
“But the big thing that we control is the sheer brutality of how we prepare, how we train and drive down the smallest little detail.”
Western Province rugby in administration
The Stormers will return to action in the URC on February 17 against the Sharks in Durban.
Meanwhile, SA Rugby appointed a third administrator on Wednesday to oversee the ailing affairs of the Western Province Rugby Football Union.
Experienced rugby administrator and businessman Peter Jooste, who previously ran for president of the WPRFU against Zelt Marais, will oversee the union’s affairs until it has returned to stability.
Jooste, who is also a former Springbok selector, will hopefully take the beleaguered union out of financial trouble.
He succeeds Max Fuzani, who stepped down not even a year into his administrator role.