Bajada toys with Bok scrum

On a Rugby Champs weekend that delivered 160 minutes of turgid eyeball torture, Tank Lanning reveled in the sight of the Bajada scrum coming out to toy with a squirming Bok scrum.

Tank Lanning in a column for the Ultimate Rugby App

Last week I warned that we could not expect the same Super Rugby “Jeux de vie” in the Rugby Championships, but hells bells, I was not expecting the 160 minutes of turgid eyeball torture that Round 1 delivered!

Sure, conditions played their part, especially in hail ridden Pretoria, and it was the respective team’s first games in a while, but here’s hoping things improve fairly significantly, fairly swiftly!

For an abrasive, spoiling side with a power scrum, the truly horrific conditions in Pretoria did suit the Argentinians, but the visitors also seemed to embrace them better than the Boks, who have been known to suffer the odd bout of petulance when things don’t go their way.

And it all started up front, where the legendary Bajada scrum technique, for a time seemingly under cover, came out to play. And boy did the Bok scrum suffer. Slippery conditions saw the scrum set higher, which deprives it of a fair amount of power, but with Puma locks launching the set from the ground, while Bok locks had their bums in air, it was one way traffic in this department.

The Bok scrum really was poor on the day. Lood de Jaager was very high and seemingly not offering much power at all, while Beast Mtawarira, only just back from a neck injury, seemed to be opting out of the contest. There was also no evidence of a tighten and dip of the hips on the ref’s “Bind” call – so key to getting that first little explosive shove going as a unit. This while Argentina were tight, low, and operating as unit. It was worth tuning in just to watch that poetry in motion!

And on a night when the Boks really needed their set piece, the lineout was also a tad iffy. They called to 2 too often, which made them predictable (and negated their infamous lineout drive given that the Pumas had a plan to shove them straight into touch), they did not compete much on opposition ball, and the ball trajectory looked very flat. Perhaps Bismarck du Plessis holding the ball in the wider middle section rather than the thinner pointy end meant he had less control?

Given Beast’s suffering up front, it seems silly not have given Trevor Nyakane any game time at all. Eben Etzebeth on for an out of sorts looking Lood de Jaager rather than Bakkies Botha might have been a better way to try and stall a rampant Puma pack, while starting with Morne Steyn could have been a master stroke in those conditions.

As it was, Argentina had 2 real opportunities to score a try in final 5 minutes of the game, which would have seen them have a kick to draw the game! Now wouldn’t that have set the cat amongst the pigeons in a tournament that has already been opened up by the sister kissing draw in Sydney.

Speaking of which, I really do think Ewen McKenzie has got the Kurtley Beale ahead of Bernard Foley selection wrong. And why one would not start with man-beast Will Skelton is beyond me. Both sides were poor on Saturday, and one cannot say that too often when it comes to the All Blacks. The Aussies let an opportunity slip.

The All Blacks are not the indestructible force they once were, but it does amaze me how quickly a few of their own are to write them off. Also with the wrong fly half (I would have Bauden Barrett starting), they played poorly, had to play with 14 men for 20 minutes, yet still managed to eke out a draw away from home at a stadium decked out in canary gold.

Like the Crusaders, the All Blacks are notorious slow starters. Write them off at your peril!

Bok bums high, Arg bums low
Bok bums high, Arg bums low


  1. Thought Mahoje would’ve started as he is the back up blindside?
    Would’ve also provided more line out options.

    Thought we lacked leadership. Was JDV exposed as a leader in those conditions?

    Bismarck should’ve thrived in those conditions. Was disappointed.

    Vermeulen was my player of the weekend.

    1. Going with 2 fetchers was a surprise. Perhaps not 100% convinced re Oupa yet? JDV back after a long time out the game, think he is still the man. Tricky to get going as a tightforward when being hammered in the scrum. DV is Mr consistancy for the Boks. legend

  2. yeah i know Mahoje is a risk. but im trying to find a reason to justify Meyers selection.

    Also can you wright something on Meyers failed selection at position number 13.

    Taute, engelbrecht, Kirchener (i think also got a run there), fourie, JPP.
    his tried all these guys but has not even considered giving De Jong who deserves his place and is a specialist centre, an extended run.

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