We’ve cast our eye over the five Australian Super Rugby clubs and combined the ‘best bits’ from a number of the country’s premier props to create the ultimate scrumming prop!
Take a look and let us know what you think…
LEGS & BUM – Taniela Tupou (Queensland Reds)
You don’t earn a nickname like ‘Tongan Thor’ for no reason, and while his Super Rugby career is just a few games old, Queensland Reds, Taniela Tupou, has already proven he’s physically prepared for this level of rugby. The seams of Tupou’s shorts are constantly straining to contain his extraordinary muscular legs and glutes. While renowned for his powerful ball running, Tupou’s ‘lower half’ provides a very strong foundation in the scrum – not only for stabilising the set piece on engagement, but for then providing the power to push through his opposite number and win the ball.
CORE – Scott Sio (Brumbies)
While front-rowers are often affectionately referred to as the ‘fat boys’, someone forgot to tell this to Brumbies’ prop, Scott Sio. The ACT loosehead carries little-to-no additional weight (despite still tipping the scales at 115kg), and boasts a ripped torso that allows him to holds his own in the set piece. A strong core is the cornerstone in combining upper and lower body strength, as well as transferring the power pushing through from the locks and back row. You can do all the bench presses you like, but a weak mid-section will quickly be found out at the scrum, often folding the scrum (and player!) in two!
CHEST – Tetera Faulkner (Western Force)
Tetera Faulkner’s quiet off-field demeanour belies the brute strength that the Western Force prop boasts. One of the strongest within the Western Australian squad, Faulkner’s pectoral strength is a component that has enabled him to be amongst the best technical scrummagers in the country. Being strong through the chest ensures a solid bind across the front-row, allowing it to remain intact and not splintering even when the heat is on.
SHOULDERS – Sekope Kepu (NSW Waratahs)
The fate of Australia’s scrum often literally rests on the shoulders of NSW Waratahs ‘man mountain’, Sekope Kepu. The powerful 118kg tight-head prop’s monstrous ‘rocky boulders’ (shoulders) are pivotal to his scrummaging success, and not just for taking the impact of the initial engagement. His strength through his shoulders also allows him to stay square within the scrum while also manoeuvring his opposite player, responding to their movements and staying connected to his scrumming teammates.
NECK – Toby Smith (Melbourne Rebels)
Rugby players are often mocked for having no necks, rather their heads are just a continuation of their shoulders. Having a strong, broad neck is no accident – just ask Melbourne Rebels’ prop, Toby Smith. A strong neck position, within the scrum, is pivotal to a player’s posture and without it, it can quickly undo every other part of their scrumming technique. Facing forward in the scrum is essential for optimal positioning. Look up, and it provides a straight back and strong posture for transferring the weight of your scrum into your opposition. Don’t, and you quickly become the weakest point in two packs engaging at scrum time.
HEAD – all of the above.
While each physical element is important in the scrum, the most essential activity takes place in a player’s ‘top two inches’, their mind. Having the right attitude and winning mindset with which to approach each scrum; the discipline to analyse your own performances and understand your opposition; and the ability to work as a front-row and/or eight-man pack at the scrum will ultimately set a good scrummager aside from a mediocre one.
Stay tuned… in future weeks we’ll bring you a weights’ programme that will enable you to strengthen these physical aspects of your scrummaging.