Bismarck weak link in scrum – Visagie

Written by Clayton Saville (Clayton(PJLD))

Posted in :In the news, Springboks, Tri Nations on 9 Sep 2009 at 16:20

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


  • Oh hello!

  • Comment 1, posted at 09.09.09 16:21:51 by provincejoulekkading Reply
  • Interesting perspective. Does make you wonder why the Boks don’t employ a scrum coach. Or do they?

  • Comment 2, posted at 09.09.09 16:35:16 by McLovin Reply

  • Ag i take Cobus with a pinch of salt, last week it was Jons fault , this week it’s Bismarck , Next its Beast….

    This oke reminds me of a a retired ex player who likes to see his name in lights…..

  • Comment 3, posted at 09.09.09 16:45:34 by Worcestershire Sauce Reply
    Worcestershire Sauce
  • I saw Visagie take a scrumming session at Maties almost ten years ago and it was incredible.

    The man is as technically astute as is possible in the front row.

  • Comment 4, posted at 09.09.09 16:47:45 by VinChainSaw Reply
  • This is the same Visagie that only a few days ago said the problem was that John Smit was setting up too high for the engagement, and that he needed to bend his knees more, and the Bok scrum problems would go away. So who is setting up too high, Smit or Bissie? I think Visagie really has no idea where the root of the problem is, only that the Bok front row has a tendency to set up for the engagement too high.

    My take on the most recent test, Beast was getting monstered in the scrums. There were countless scrums he could not even make his bind or just dropped it. He went straight to ground many times, and was stood up three times and popped. That being said, the Bok scrum has not looked this bad in any of the other tests this year, so I believe it is simply a lack of intensity for that match. Let’s see what happens in Hamilton.

    I don’t think Beast is a poor scrummager, simply that he had a very poor scrumming game in Brisbane. To be honest, he didn’t do much else around the pitch, so really had an overall poor match. I hope he is able to get fired up for the Hamilton match. My opinion is he needs to be rested for at least 2 weeks after coming back to the Sharks. With Jannie at TH and Deon at LH, both Beast and Smitty can get some well needed rest.

  • Comment 5, posted at 09.09.09 16:48:44 by Dancing Bear Reply
    Friend of Sharksworld
    Dancing Bear
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 5) : Hey, you back from your regatta!
    I read it was pretty good up there!

    Maybe chat 2 morrow…got to go now!!

    Have a good eveining everyone!

  • Comment 6, posted at 09.09.09 16:53:21 by Me2 aka Mama Shark Reply

    Me2 aka Mama Shark
  • one of the best tightheads we’ve ever had? BOLLOCKS. He played about 4 tests and never made the grade.

    He is a legend in his own lunchbox, just like those other WP “greats” Corne Krige and Robbie Fleck.

    Back in your box, Shrek!

  • Comment 7, posted at 09.09.09 17:03:36 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 7) : Must admit, when watching the Bok games he played he looks rather [email protected] . But hey, what do I know.

  • Comment 8, posted at 09.09.09 17:07:00 by provincejoulekkading Reply
  • @Dancing Bear (Comment 5) : yeah, we need Smitty for the semi and final. To captain us to his first Currie Cup trophy

  • Comment 9, posted at 09.09.09 17:08:49 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : Haha, not gonna win it.

  • Comment 10, posted at 09.09.09 17:11:05 by provincejoulekkading Reply
  • @provincejoulekkading (Comment 8) : looks like I was wrong… he played 25 tests. Not that anyone really noticed, cos we lost virtually every one that mattered. He was a core member of the Bok pack at a time that we were getting stuffed by every man and his dog (2000-2003) and if you take away the big wins at the 99 World Cup (where we beat England and New Zealand) his CV is a bit of a horror story. Sorry, pal… not as good as you thought you were.

  • Comment 11, posted at 09.09.09 17:11:30 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • WTF does he know? Couldnt even get a job in SA or Australasia

  • Comment 12, posted at 09.09.09 18:34:11 by Rahul Reply

  • “At Saracens we have two South African hookers and an Italian hooker who has played against Bismarck.”

    Bills’ grasp of Engrish is almost as bad as Visagie’s grasp of front row technique!

  • Comment 13, posted at 09.09.09 20:59:19 by Baldrick Reply

  • @Baldrick (Comment 13) : i also love the implication that Schalk Brits is suddenly a credible authority when it comes to scrumming!

  • Comment 14, posted at 09.09.09 21:45:42 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : 😆 😆

  • Comment 15, posted at 10.09.09 08:24:54 by provincejoulekkading Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 14) : Brits or Bismarck? Tough choice.. 😈 😆

  • Comment 16, posted at 10.09.09 09:20:11 by McLovin Reply


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