The truth behind South Africa’s problems at scrum time in this year’s Test rugby was laid bare on Tuesday night, four days before the crucial Tri-Nations match in Hamilton.
Basically, there was good news and bad news
The Springboks’ scrummaging woes were not down to captain John Smit but two other key factors, former Bok tighthead Cobus Visagie claimed in a detailed analysis.
Visagie, one of the best tightheads South Africa has everhad, said the technical failings of hooker Bismarck du Plessis and a poor record of attending to scrummaging technique by SA coaches in general were the reasons the Bok scrum has struggled twice against Australia in this season’s Tri-Nations.
Visagie, now commercial director at London club Saracens, believes the general perception of hooker Du Plessis is that, because he is so strong in the upper body, he is difficult to scrum against. But, he claims, he is not.
At Saracens we have two South African hookers and an Italian hooker who has played against Bismarck. They all say he is very high in his scrummaging engagement and not difficult to scrum against. The perception is, because he is very strong, he is a very good scrummager, but he isn’t.
“With a better scrummaging hooker, John Smit wouldn’t struggle.”
Visagie, who retired from playing in 2008, said that another problem was with the coaching of scrummaging in South Africa.
“One of the problems has been that South Africa, because they have been successful results-wise in recent times, have smoothed over some major problems. They have been able to get away with it or at least they thought they could get away with it. But now they have been found out.”
Yet Visagie’s critique contained few words of comfort for the All Blacks ahead of Saturday’s Test. Putting it bluntly, he feels that a New Zealand front row without Carl Hayman and Anton Oliver is not good enough to make such a mess of the South African scrum as the Wallabies managed the last two weekends in Perth and Brisbane.
“The Australian scrum is much better than New Zealand’s,” said Visagie. “It is possible Tony Woodcock could exploit it because he is one of the best in the world. But he hasn’t scrummaged that well since Oliver and Hayman left.”
This article was written by Peter Bills and was taken from www.iol.co.za