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The JR Blog tackles the topics effecting Rugby, with a special interest on the effects they may have on the Junior Rugby world.

There are 3 key areas to a great scrum and they are controlled predominantly by the front row.

1. The engagement
2. The body height
3. The drive

All of these 3 factors are determined by timing. Timing is the key to a successful scrum that wins own ball and creates tight heads (win against the head). It’s important the front row are taught timing from an early age.

A good engagement is the key to establishing a strong base for the scrum. Too often the front row seem to lean against each other, they have no desire to try and out play or control their opponent. Usually because they have heard about how dangerous the engagement can be and they are tentative.

The best way to get around this problem is to make it fun, get them to wrestle each other. Begin with them kneeling in a push up position and on the coaches call they have to engage with the opponent (still on their knees) and try to wrestle him to the ground. Soon you will see they learn the advantages of a good engagement and wrestling for positioning. This is also a safety measure it will increase their strength and body control.

How often do we see a bad engagement followed by poor body height in a junior scrum? Too often teams see the scrum as a rest from the game and end up just binding and leaning. It might be a roll off from bad habits learnt in Rugby League but it can be dangerous.

The best way to get a junior player to understand the concept of low body height is to exaggerate their notion of leaning for a rest. Get the players to simply lean against each other, let them choose how. More than likely they will stand virtually upright, while they are doing this tell them to take a step towards the opponent. This will usually cause them to loose balance and fall to the side or backwards. Now get them to repeat the exercise, however, this time with knees bent and back straight. Again get them to take a step forward and watch the difference in stability. Ask them which was less energy consuming and taxing, the answer will hopefully be the second version.

We know the benefits of low body height, however, often the kids aren’t taught or shown why it really helps them. Hopefully the next time they decide to take a break at the scrum they will realise with low body height they can actually contribute to the scrum and exert less energy.

So you have managed to change the players perception on the engagement and body height, there is one more component that is necessary to win the ball and this is where timing is essential.

In under 19s laws the scrum can only push 1 meter after the ball is fed in. This is a component junior players under use and estimate. A simple, well timed push when the ball is fed in can win own ball and opponent ball very easily and once the ball is at the feet of the second row everyone can relax. Generally the feed in the scrum is pretty poor causing the ball to bounce around and making it hard for the hooker to cleanly strike the ball, this means a good push on the feed is more important. It only needs to be a quick, well timed push as the ball comes in and you have won yours or your opponents ball.

A trick to teach the props about the necessity of calling the ball in is to get them to pack down against a scrum machine or another prop, with their eyes closed and tell them they have to strike for the ball when you tell them to open their eyes. Feed the ball into the scrum and call the ball in, watch them miss the strike. The reason being is naturally their eyes haven’t had time to adjust to coordinate the timing. Now explain to them if they do the same for their hooker he will have little chance winning the ball. This little explanation will work wonders for the communication.

There are plenty technical tricks the front row have to learn, however, I think these are key to Junior scrumaging. Good luck!!!

Jason Grier | Tuesday, September 08, 2009 | Comments ((Disabled)) | Trackbacks (0) | Permalink

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