Saru’s scrum solution

Saru is forming an expert panel to address South African’s flagging scrum standards.

The state of the Springbok scrum and the poor performances of South African teams, such as the Sharks and Lions, is a major concern and this has prompted Saru to take action.

Last Thursday, the union organised a meeting with several former players and scrum experts to discuss the formation of a committee to help improve and maintain standards of scrumming from junior level right through to the Springboks.

World Cup-winning prop Balie Swart, who was one of the experts invited to this meeting, is positive this plan will be put into action. Robbie Kempson, Eddie Andrews, Os du Randt, Dougie Heymans were present, as were Saru manager of referees André Watson and official Tappe Henning.

‘The idea is for us to come together and help rebuild the South African scrum,’ Swart told keo.co.za. We will also advise the Bok selectors on who we think are the best scrummagers in the country. The selectors will still have the final say.

‘We are not going straight to the head, we will start working with coaches and players from U9 level so we can have a common understanding of scrumming in the country. For too long have different teams followed their own techniques which has led to mixed results. The committee will ensure everybody, junior and senior players, follow the correct methods.

‘We will also make sure that the techniques used are safe and accurate for all players, so there will be no danger of any serious neck or head injuries.

‘Nothing is concrete yet, we are still busy negotiating, but the word is that Saru has never had a more passionate, engaging meeting like the one we just had. There will be a follow-up soon, I predict some time next month, so I am positive things will fall into place.’

Swart added that no individual player can be criticised for the poor scrum performances by the Boks and Super 14 teams.

‘We used to be a powerful scrumming nation and we want to get back to that level. It’s not only one player who is the problem, it’s all eight men in the pack who hold the responsibility.

‘They are all supposed to be doing the same thing on impact. A lot of people are pointing fingers, but the truth is no individual can be blamed. The scrum techniques of some players are wrong or poor and we need to rectify this.

‘The referees are also not to blame, most of the times they get the calls right. The law is set, and the players need to follow these laws. That’s why André and Tappe were present, to gain a common understanding between players and refs as well.’

Saru manager of coaching Hilton Adonis has confirmed the meeting was successful from the union’s point of view.

‘The meeting was basically a blueprint to see what the chances are of former players or scrum experts being interested in joining the committee to review the scrum matters in the country,’ Adonis told this site. ‘We have identified certain individuals to join the advisory committee or scrum factory and we will meet again soon to take these plans further.’

By Gareth Duncan

– Read about Balie Swart’s mission to save the scrum in the new issue of SA Rugby magazine, on sale now