Springbok prop CJ van der Linde’s curtailed, 18-minute appearance for Irish club Leinster against London Wasps at Twickenham has ruffled fresh feathers over the “uncontested scrums” phenomenon.
Sport 24 reports that tighthead Van der Linde, who is rumoured to be contemplating a return to the South African fold soon in order to challenge for a Bok spot against the British and Irish Lions in mid-year, was substituted in the first quarter of the important Heineken Cup Pool 2 match because of a toe injury.
His ally on the loosehead side, Stan Wright, also failed to see out the first half which meant uncontested scrums even before half-time.
Wasps had reportedly enjoyed good early superiority in that department, with veteran Wasps captain and England star Phil Vickery particularly to the fore against Wright, before this area of play necessarily lost its lustre.
It meant that Wasps were hamstrung to an extent in their bid to deny Leinster a precious bonus point or secure one themselves; the visitors sneaked one for finishing within seven points in a 19-12 defeat.
It meant Leinster stayed top of the group with one round left, even though Wasps are level in log points terms on 16.
The Daily Telegraph’s Brendan Gallagher described the situation as “ludicrous”.
He wrote on Monday: “Leinster had been issuing medical bulletins all week on the parlous state of their two first-choice props … yet after late fitness tests chose to start both and then include only one prop on the bench.
“The result, with the Leinster pack being shoved into the next parish for most of the first half-hour, was the precipitate ‘departure’ of both players and uncontested scrums before half-time – ludicrous.
“It left a bad taste and, at the very least, there should be a steward’s inquiry.
“Somehow you know that if this was a humble Italian side involved, there would be a stampede to condemn, penalise and fine.
“In the T14 in France, sides are required to (have) bench eight players, including three front-row specialists, to avoid such situations, and it beggars belief that Europe’s top club competition is so off the pace in this respect.”
The Guardian said the dual prop injuries “diminished the game as a spectacle”.
Wasps did not complain, possibly because they were considered guilty of rule-bending themselves in two games against English rivals Leicester last year, when uncontested scrums were also called.
Leinster coach Michael Cheika defended the props’ selections. “CJ had injured his foot and had an injection in it during the week and Stan his neck. We made a decision to play them but it didn’t work out. You need to have scrums but both of them were struggling and had to come off.”
The Irish team have placed an old crowd favourite on front-row standby for their final pool match against Edinburgh in Dublin on Sunday – another South African in 35-year-old Springbok journeyman Ollie le Roux.Tweet