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Was the Beast boring?

International Lions
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OK, so I've just got home after my own match (I play Gaelic Football; we lost, if you'd like to know!), having watched the Lions in the pub beforehand. As the title suggests, I'm interested in the front row battle. I've never played there before, so forgive me if I'm mistaken, but here are my assertions anyway.

In the lead up to the game, and indeed over the last few years, refereeing of the scrum, and the front row in particular has come under enormous criticism. It seems as though referees have no idea who commits what offence, and when anything goes wrong, either they ping the pack they deem to be on the back foot, or reset it if the honours are even.

Today, the first scrum I saw (I was 7 mins late), the South Africans got an 8 man shove on and drove the Lions back a good few metres. From here on in, it seemed every offence made at the scrum led to Phil Vickery being pinged.

From what I saw, every scrum that collapsed was as a result of the Boks' loosehead, Beast, driving Vickery down and in, which I believe is known as boring, and is forbidden. Vickery kept getting pinged for it, and Beast, realising he had the ref fooled, kept doing it. As far as I could see, the scrum was wheeling that way constantly just before it collapsed, which seems to further underline my assertion.

Am I wrong here, or am I missing something?

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posted Jun 22, 2009

Part 3
As stated before, if the borer goes in on the prop, the flanker should rip away the loose heads bind, which puts them in the tunnel with no outside support. The collapse goes down on them and they look like they collapsed it. It also gets very uncomfortable for the loose head on the deck.

None of these techniques are "new" nor are they illegal by the rules of the game.

As for lifting, there is not much that can be done about it. Most front row players have the strength and build to lever up the opposition, and once they start to go they have nothing to purchase on to counter it. This is where Vick's size works against him and Jones has the advantage of being smaller and lower.

Sort it out with your second rows to open the gap between the packs, in order to lower the hips and shoulders. Don't worry about the hooker, they don't hook these days, it goes into the second row from the half back.

You can always use the Kiwi trick of pushing before the engagement as well.

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posted Jun 22, 2009

The scrum is a very integral part of the modern game that is rugby union. Retaining its core values, the scrum has been around since our great game began. It is about physical confrontation trying to gain the upper hand, battering the opposition into submission at set piece time. Using different tactics and methods, teams are able to gain phycological as well as physical advantages during a match.

The front row's positioning, their height and angles can all have a bearing on how scrums are interpretated nowadays. But, with it being such a keenly contested area, time and again scrums are having to be reset and I am afraid that it is damaging to the contest as a whole in terms of being a spectacle that people are keen to witness. If scrums are repreatedly being reset, it means the game lacks continuity and structure as vital seconds are eating up by the props trying to get their binding right.

As we all know, different refeeres have different interpretations on how the scrummage area should be managed and Saturday was a fine example of this. Being a southern hemisphere referee, Laurence seemed to heavelly favour the Springboks, regardless of the Lions' claims that they were doing nothing wrong. In the end, that decided the match as the Beast was dubbed a world beater by his own support.

No, as a proud Englishman myself, I know Phil Vickery is better than that. He will be hurting inside and will be eager to get onto the pitch on Saturday, that is if he is selected, to prove a point to show that he will now be abbliterated as easily as he was. He is a very proud and honest man yet by his own admissions, he seemed to struggle. Believe you me, he will want to come back and pound his opposite number to the ground.

I expect to see a Phil Vickery playing the most passionate and emotional game of his career if he gets on. All I can say is Springboks, you had better beware of the man known as the Raging Bull. Bounce-back-ability, the Cornish farmer has it in bucket loads.

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posted Jun 22, 2009

So he should play again on Saturday then.

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posted Jun 22, 2009

Very good posts, domestic.

Brian Moore made a few suggestions of similar ilk in today's Torygraph.

Back in the day, we might have done something less 'technical'. But then, I'm a Pooler boy.

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posted Jun 22, 2009

Paddy O’Brien, the IRB referees’ manager, who was effectively in charge of the refereeing team in Durban, described Lawrence’s performance as “an outstanding piece of scrum refereeing”. Yesterday, when Rowntree analysed the problem at the scrum, he stressed more than once that Vickery was not the sole offender. “By Phil’s own admittance, he struggled,” Rowntree said. “But it’s not all down to him. The rest of that pack, particularly the guys next to him and behind him, have got to help him. What we failed to do was keep a lid on The Beast at engagement time. But it’s not all about one guy.”

The same opinion was expressed by Paul Wallace, whose propping was so notable a part of the Lions success here in 1997 and is back as part of the Sky commentary team. “We didn’t scrummage intelligently,” he said, “but I wouldn’t blame Phil entirely.

“The Beast did a big number on him, but it was more to do with the size of the pack around him. I was surprised to see the amount of power that was generated by the Springbok back five into the front row. It was about as impressive a display of power as I have seen.

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comment by Rlruman (U1648547)

posted Jun 22, 2009

The referee was the difference between the two sides and if Paddy O'Brien thinks that he did well that just means one thing to me

They have a different interpretation of the rules.
Curiously when the same guys referee Super 14 games they let anything go

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posted Jun 23, 2009

The mods did not like my second hint.

Obviously I can't give the details but it concerned:

Commanding the engagement with positioning your head for best advantage over your opponent in order to discourage boring tactics.

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posted Jun 23, 2009


I think I know what you are saying.

In Moore's article he refers to it as 'biffing' but I think you were suggesting something with your head?

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posted Jun 23, 2009

Well deduced by the Tank gun.

If Paddy O’Brien, thinks Lawrence’s performance was “an outstanding piece of scrum refereeing”. Then I think it is time for him to step down from his position as he is clearly at odds with the rules of the game.

He is probably still sulking about the failure to get all of the ELV's perminantly adopted to phase out these 'technical' areas of the game and turning it into the 'rugby-lite' super 12/14 game.

The game is much much faster than it was 20 years ago. As a result, officials have to be fit and fast in order to keep up with the play. As a result, most of those we see in the middle are former backs in particular wingers (e.g. Alan Roland)

Former props tend to move on much later in life than backs, and size and injuries tend to hinder them developing into top class refs. (We all know games where you have had to wait for the old/fat fella with the whistle to catch up!)

However, in order to correctly have these areas of the scrum officiated, refs like Paddy O'Brien and co need to LISTEN to current and former props to know:
* what should and should not go on,
* what is dangerous and unacceptable,
* what to penalise and what to just accept,
* when to let the front rows sort it out themselves.

A bit of common sense rather than guesswork, which is clearly the tactic Lawernce used at the weekend.

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