Embrace the new

Not only do we get to see the new scrum engagement call in action, but also a heap of new and exciting talent … Bring on the Currie Cup and a more attacking game plan says Tank Lanning in his Sport24 column.

I had a good giggle at a response to my Tweet saying that the Currie Cup this year looks more like a mix between Varsity Cup and Vodacom Cup that suggested I was talking complete nonsense … “Tukkies would have had more Currie Cup caps than Saturday’s Blue Bulls team playing Province at Newlands on Saturday” Tweeted the sarcastic bugger.

Regular readers will know how negative I have become toward the Varsity Cup, given how the rules have been bent and buckled by some institutions, all without sanction. But I hear some positive news coming out of the EXCO enclave suggesting they are looking at a system that allocates points to players based on how far along they are in their studies, with each team needing to carry a certain amount of points in their match day 23. Together with a limit on player payment, and not being able to use players contracted or capped by unions, we may well see a return to what this tournament was meant to be about – rugby played by young guys looking to start life with a degree or diploma!

And while being facetious in my Tweet about the Currie Cup, it is pretty exciting to see all six unions having to mix a few old hands with plenty of new ones as they come to terms with life sans the Boks and players chasing foreign currency.

We seem a tad obsessed with experience here in SA, so when unions are forced to dig a little deeper into the talent pool as they are in the new look season structure that sees the Currie Cup become more developmental, I genuinely find it exciting.

There seem to be plenty nay-sayers already, but a quick look at the weekend’s teams sees the likes of Pat Cilliers, Elton Jantjies, Piet van Zyl, Cobus Reinach, CJ van der Linde, Waylon Murray, Nic Groom, and Craig Burden only being able to make their respective side’s benches! That has to say something about the players actually getting into the run on XV’s …

And with three of these guys being scrumhalves, having to play behind the likes of Charl McLeod, Louis Schreuder and Sarel Pretorius, one surely has to question Heyneke Meyer’s call to Fourie du Preez, who will only be available for the home games in any case.

Perhaps it goes back to our conservative nature that sees us tending to rely on experience rather than testing out the new? Hence us playing a fairly old fashioned chick and chase game rather than the more modern ball in hand variety we see from the Kiwis.

So I look forward to seeing how the next generation go in this Currie Cup. It’s bloody exciting to see an U21, Varsity, Community or Vodacom Cup player given a chance in a higher league.

It’s also going to be the first time we see the new “Crouch, bind, set” scrum engagement process, with the hit basically taken out the game. Meyer is on record saying he thinks they will suite our props, hence him being comfortable with Coenie Oosthuizen as his only backup to tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis.

I beg to differ. South African props have tended to rely on the massively physical hit to gain the early ascendency and then survived on grunt and gristle. The new engagement process will require not only strength, but also technique. And timing as a unit will become much more important. A straight put in (thankfully also part of the new look) will also see front rows higher, with hookers perhaps even going for the odd strike, which then reduces the power of the scrum as you only have 7 men with their feet back.

It will take time to settle, and initially I think we will see scrums used as mere resets. But over time, the scrum will again become a weapon, and one that will require technical nous to master.

Bring on the Currie Cup!


  1. Varsity Cup rules will only be as good as the enforcement thereof … and this has been sorely lacking in the past two years. Only time will tell …

  2. Did you watch the S15 final? Did you see how skew the scrum feeds were? It was absolutely attrocious… What is the point of trying to organise the scrum as a contest if the scrumhalves are feeding it at 45 degrees?

    1. Thankfully one of the things that comes with the new laws is a straight feed. Perhaps the thing I am MOST excited about!

  3. Hi Tank – yes the “not straight” feed IMO is one that concerns us as former front rowers (the only row as we have said in the past) the most. In that regard I am very happy to hear that…..let’s hope it gets enforced properly. I was pleasantly surprised last Saturday when before our match (I coach an under 15 side), the referee called the entire front row as well as the 9 and 10. One of his instructions to the scrumhalves was to put the ball in straight at the scrums !!!

    I am with you on Coenie Oosthuizen – his lack of proper technique will be an even bigger concern IMO. Whenever he was moved to tighthead during a game in 2013, his team went backwards in the scrums. Heyneke should really have looked at other tightheads. I know there aren’t a lot of quality no 3s around but surely he should develop those available.

  4. YES! to the new scrum rules. That’s the way we used to scrum in the old days.

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