The dominance of the Crusaders' scrum this season has caused concern over whether the Springboks can compete in this vital area this year. Bok assistant coach Gary Gold sheds some light on the dark art of rugby. Burger targets World Cup return
The Crusaders have swept aside all before them at scrum-time this season, and while there may be no Springboks in the Stormers front row - which was repeatedly shoved around in the semifinal at Newlands last weekend - the same cannot be said of the Sharks and Bulls.
The teams from Durban and Pretoria, whose players make up the bulk of the incumbent Bok pack, were also schooled at set-piece time when they faced the team from Christchurch this season - sending alarm bells ringing throughout South Africa.
The one thing that the Crusaders' performance at Newlands did confirm is that scrum dominance is crucial to gaining the momentum required to dictate the game. It has a knock-on effect on the rest of the team and no matter how good your backline is any team will find it difficult to dominate while on the back foot.
The Springboks have traditionally taken pride from having a physical pack with a strong strong set-piece, but can they handle what the All Black pack will dish out in this World Cup year?
Bok forwards coach Gary Gold, writing on coaching website rugbyiq.com, explained: "It is possibly the most spoken about area of the game of rugby versus the least amount of knowledge.
"I say this respectfully because it sincerely is one of the few areas of the game where I believe it is really difficult to have a thorough knowledge of that facet of play unless you have played there yourself.
"Where it differs from other position-specific areas is that the actual execution of the scrum is comprehensively more complicated than one can understand," explained Gold.
Many rugby enthusiasts and amateur selectors seem to think that merely picking the right players will translate into a solid performance on the pitch, but, as Gold notes, a scrum's success depends on a united effort.
"Let us begin by dispelling the biggest myth at scrum time: there is no way one individual - be it a tighthead, a loosehead, a hooker, a lock - be responsible for the success of a scrum.
"It is, quite simply, impossible. In fact, on the contrary, the most successful scrums are the ones where you can get a complete buy-in from all eight forwards who are completely on the same programme to the same job at exactly the same time."
Gold went on to outline the basics required to ensure that a scrum functions effectively as a unit.
He explained: "The first thing we need to ensure is that the organisation of the eight are tightly and correctly bound. Our ultimate achievement is that on the engagement all eight of their spines will be making contact in precisely the same direction and that the heights of them are all succinct. In other words, you will lose power if the height of the front row is not the same or if the body position of the tighthead lock is 15 centimetres higher than his loosehead lock partner. Their forces cannot - and will not - be going in the same direction.
"The second and most crucial part of the scrum is post-engagement. This is obviously once your team has achieved a successful engagement and may have the physical edge on their opponents - that being that they have been able to win the speed over the imaginary middle line that exists between the two packs and be in a better position to exert the second shove because they have 'won' the hit against their opponent.
"The simulation of the second shove is not too dissimilar to the principles of the engagement where all eight - who have hopefully still kept their original body positions - are now required to extend the hips and exert the maximum pressure all simultaneously.
"This is substantially more difficult than it sounds and you can well imagine if the eight guys exert their pressure at three different times how the entire scrum can be compromised," added Gold.
Visit rugbyiq.com for more expert coaching analysis from Gary Gold and the rest of their team!
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.