Battle of the scrum in Lions’ clash with mighty Munster

Morgan Naude had a noteworthy outing against Leinster this past weekend for the Lions. Backpagepix

Morgan Naude had a noteworthy outing against Leinster this past weekend for the Lions. Backpagepix

Published Apr 24, 2024


Mike Greenaway

Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys was practically licking his lips when talking about his pack’s growing threat in the scrums.

The jovial Redelinghuys is only 34 and would probably still have been propping for the Lions had he not had a career-ending neck injury in 2017. He has been a scrum doctor for a few seasons now and after his charges played a big role in the impressive defeat of Leinster last week, he wants more on Saturday against another Irish giant, Munster.

Journeyman Conraad Van Vuuren has added much-needed depth to the Lions’ front row. | BackpagePix

Moreover, Redelinghuys believes the Lions are doing a fine impression of the Springboks’ famed Bomb Squad.

“I’ve said this before, I believe the strength of this pack is down to the competition between the guys; we have some serious depth,” said Redelinghuys yesterday.

“If you look at our tightheads, we’ve got Ruan Dreyer, Asa (Asenathi Ntlabakanye), Ruan Smith, Beertjie (Conraad van Vuuren), so we’ve got great tightheads and then with the looseheads, we’ve got Morgan (Naude) and JP (Smith).

“These guys scrum against each other every week and they make each other better because they are pushing for places,” Redelinghuys said.

“It’s lekker (nice). The best way to raise the standard is to have competition for places.

“I think all of us have watched the Chasing the Sun documentary and that is what you can see with the Boks as well. Their toughest scrumming opposition is their teammates on Wednesdays, not on Saturdays.”

Ruan Dreyer is back from injury. | BackpagePix

Redelinghuys said the Lions are mimicking the Boks.

“We can use our impact players to come on like a bomb squad.

“You can bring them on and expect the same set-piece dominance to continue, and then if we are up against a second-string front row, we should get more dominance. It’s something we can still get better at.”

Like it is at the Boks, Redelinghuys said the Lions have a horses-for-courses policy for each game.

“The opposition will determine who starts and who plays off the bench,” he said. “When you look at the Springboks’ selection, you see that as well. You see subtle rotations.

“For us, it’s about what the game needs, and there are a lot of things to consider. The scrum is a big part of a front row’s job but it’s also about how we want to play on a particular weekend and what we expect from the opposition.”

Redelinghuys said the coaches try to predict what type of game will unfold and what it will look like towards the end.

“It’s selecting the best guys for a specific game strategy,” he said.

“It’s not necessarily ‘this is the best guy or second-best guy’. It’s about the best player and combinations for this specific game.”

The Lions were magnificent in beating Leinster 44-12 but they are going to have to be even better if they are to subdue a resurgent Munster side that shocked the Bulls last week at Loftus.

— BKT United Rugby Championship (URC) (@URCOfficial) April 23, 2024

The Lions are currently in 11th position on the URC table, but there is a log jam and they are level on 39 points with Edinburgh (eighth), Connacht (ninth) and Ulster (tenth).

“With the Irish teams, if you can put a word like ‘tough’ on one of them, it’s Munster and Connacht that are really tough teams,” Redelinghuys said.

“They’ve got that never-say-die attitude, and there’s a reason Munster won the URC last year. They played their quarter-final, semi-final and final away, and they managed to find a way to win. It says a lot about their attitude and the fight they have in them.

“Their coaches drive that hard, which you can see. You can never think they’ll go lie down because you’re ahead. The Bulls started to get an upper hand but Munster never quit and won the game.”