Accomplished referee Jonathan Kaplan will work with the Stormers forwards on Tuesday in order to help them adapt to the scrumming laws changes.
The Stormers struggled at this set-piece in last Friday’s warm-up match against the Lions, with referee Jaco Peyper nailing the Cape pack at the point of engagement. Coach Allister Coetzee later explained that the scrum laws have changed slightly since last year, but that Sanzar had failed to notify the teams. In fact, Peyper only told Coetzee about these changes prior to kickoff, and so the Stormers were left to adapt as the game progressed.
Sanzar referees met at the end of last year to discuss the scrum and it was decided that the ‘crouch, touch, pause, engage’ call required a change in cadence. Special precautions will now also be taken to ensure there are no ‘slingshot’ manoeuvres where the No 8 slams into the second row; referees will be looking to front rows to initiate the shove.
‘I feel we played well last week, but there are areas that require improvement like our scrumming,’ said Coetzee. ‘We’ve had a look and we will be having a live scrumming session [on Tuesday] and Jonathan Kaplan will be in to help us.
‘We really need to work as a pack to get this right. It’s all about the timing. I suppose the laws have been changed to make the scrum more stable and the potential for collapsed scrums is decreased when the force is no longer coming from behind in a slingshot motion. The props will initiate the hit.’
What will hamper the Stormers’ strive for synergy is the fact that Coetzee is likely to make several changes to his side for this Saturday’s game against the Cheetahs. Coetzee maintains that the entire squad needs to adapt to these scrumming laws, and that he also has to stick with his pre-season plans to give every player a fair amount of game-time.
Andries Bekker and Duane Vermeulen are back on the training paddock but will only start full contact sessions next week, while Dewaldt Duvenage and Wicus Blaauw are still training in isolation. The one previously injured player who is available is lock Rynhardt Elstadt, and Coetzee may push him into the line-up this Saturday.
In other departments, Coetzee is keen to see what some of the fringe players are capable of against Super Rugby opposition. Burton Francis and Gary van Aswegen have had chances in the the two previous games which means Demetri Catrakilis is in line to start at flyhalf against the Cheetahs. Similarly, Bolla Conradie and Louis Schreuder started against Boland and the Lions respectively, so Nic Groom will get a run at No 9 in the coming fixture.
Coetzee added that the combination that finishes the final pre-season match against the Kings is likely to resemble the team that fronts the Hurricanes on 25 February.
By Jon Cardinelli