Wilco Louw aims to keep ‘good vibe’ going for Bulls scrum

Wilco Louw has justified his place in the Bulls team. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Wilco Louw has justified his place in the Bulls team. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Published Oct 26, 2023


That perfectly straight back was again on show and when that happens in a scrum, you just know that Wilco Louw is doing to drill his opponent.

That was the case for much of the BullsUnited Rugby Championship (URC) opener against the Scarlets on Sunday, where the home side run out 63-21 winners at Loftus Versfeld.

Louw made his return to Pretoria this year after a few seasons at Harlequins in England, which was preceded by a short stint at Toulon and four years at the Stormers. The 29-year-old, who has 14 Springbok Test caps, produced the kind of display that justified why Jake White brought Louw back to the Bulls.

They have been inconsistent in the scrums over the last few seasons but now they have a real powerhouse at tighthead prop. White joked that the 126kg Louw was taking on his new teammates during scrum practice in the pre-season with real intent but the shy front-rower was reluctant to take credit. “I won’t say I scrum them – they scrum me as well! It’s good to scrum against different guys and the guys are working really hard,” Louw said this week ahead of Sunday’s clash against Ulster in Belfast (kick-off 7pm).

“There is good competition in the group and everyone wants to do well. We have a good vibe among the guys.

“I just think the longer the season goes on, the better it gets. You get comfortable with the guy next to you and you know exactly what to do in certain situations.

“The more games we play, the better it will be. We have very good coaches – Werner (Kruger) puts in a lot of effort and comes with different analysis, coaching us as a team and one-on-one coaching.

“Everyone brings something different and it’s never easy to scrum against Simphiwe (Matanzima) and Gerhard (Steenekamp).”

Ulster won’t be able to call on Springbok star recruit Steven Kitshoff just yet but will provide a far greater challenge for the Bulls pack in the set-pieces.

Another issue to handle will be the new 3G pitch at Kingspan Stadium, as the Bulls have battled with artificial surfaces in the past. “Touring and playing away from home is never easy, playing quality sides. Ulster are a good team and they have a good set-piece, maul and good backs,” Louw said.

“It’s going to be a good test for us as a team and pack, especially going to play on 4G pitches now. The boys have been playing in the URC and hopefully that experience will help the guys on the 4G pitches. “For me personally, it’s a very hard surface underfoot. In South Africa, we have normal grass fields and you have better footing and your studs go into the ground.

“Over there, it’s almost half on top of the pitch. The 4G pitches differ as well, and Newcastle’s 4G pitch is really nice and feels a bit softer and you put on those rubber studs. “But at Saracens, for example, it’s a much shorter and harder pitch. But it’s about getting used to it, as it’s something different.

“We have scrummed on there, so hopefully we can adapt quickly.”