Cheika: "Naive" Eddie needs to look at his own scrum - Green and Gold Rugby

Cheika: “Naive” Eddie needs to look at his own scrum

Cheika: “Naive” Eddie needs to look at his own scrum

LONDON – Verbal barbs have continued to fly back and forth between Wallaby and English camps as the countdown to a heated Ashes showdown on Sunday morning AEDT continues.

Referees, scrums, European Rugby and the conduct of England coach Eddie Jones were all in the firing line for Michael Cheika as the two former team-mates jostled to influence the pre-match narrative in the media.

Getting formalities like the status of halfback Will Genia and flanker Dean Mumm out of the way early, it didn’t take long for Cheika begin in earnest.


Eddie Jones

“In June I gave the opportunity to see how a former Australian would deal with it,” said Cheika on Jones’ return to coach against Australia on home soil. “There was a lot of vitriol towards Australia, where he coached and where he was given opportunities to grow up as a coach.

“I suppose it’s a bit like goalscorer who scores against his old team, you don’t really know how to play it – do you act reserved or do you get stuck in?

“I know what I’d do. If you’re looking to leave a legacy somewhere you don’t hit back at it when you leave.”

When asked later about whether Jones and Cheika considered themselves mates, the only response the Wallabies coach gave was that he “wasn’t judgemental” of the way Jones has handled himself in the media.

“If he wants to play it that way, that’s totally fine with me, he’s doing whatever he needs but does it help winning or losing?

“I would think that if you spoke to any of the English players who are playing on the day they won 3-0 in Australia they would like to think it was their skills and their ability that got them over the line and not the other stuff.”


Scrum illegality

While stating that he preferred to let his players do their own talking through their actions on the field, Cheika couldn’t resist pointing out the irony of English suggestions of illegality at the scrum not three days after tighthead Dan Cole was yellow-carded against Argentina.

“I think the important thing to note is that he’s got to be looking at his own players. They’re the ones who got the penalty try against them and [prop Dan Cole] got a yellow card. That same prop’s been infringing the law since his career started, not just this year.

“If Eddie is that naive to think that having a go at our guys will make the referees forget about his guy then that’s up to the Ref to be influenced that way.”

“We have an Argentinian scrum coach and all we do is scrum square and try get as much weight as possible.

“We still scrum the same way we did in June,” Cheika said. “When you’re scrumming straight you’ve got to work a lot harder to try stay up. If a guy turns in on the angle and pulls down the bind, you’ll fall over.

Cheika explained in further detail that the Wallabies “didn’t have the strength” in the front row to continually scrum straight, exposing the side to being taken down by the dark artists within the English front row.

“I think that in the summer that’s what happened to Scott Sio and James Slipper – Coles turning in and pulling down got the better of them.”

Jones’ changing attitudes to coaches conferencing with referees before test matches were also not lost on the Wallabies coach.

“It’s funny how your tune changes… In the summer when we requested those meetings [with the Referees] he blew up, he stormed out of one!”


European Rugby swooping on off-contract Wallabies

Cheika played down speculation that Wallabies stars Tevita Kuridrani and Rory Arnold were in the sights of French Rugby clubs Bordeaux and Toulon.

Claiming that every player off contract in 2017 was linked to a move somewhere, the Wallabies coach stated that the high number of debutants brought on tour was part of the Wallabies solution to the financial pull of the European market rugby.

“For us to keep our players we have to an incredible amount of work on the ground and prep because you can offer them more in Sterling and Euros than we’re able to offer in dollars.

“We’ve got to make sure that playing for your Super Rugby team is something that makes you a better player and a better person, and make that something that these players want.

“It leads to what we’ve done this year, to follow a clear plan to grow the numbers of players in competition for Wallabies positions.

“That might mean some short term pain but the goal is increase the depth of the Wallabies.

Cheika again highlighted the importance of this process in strengthening rugby at the International level but also in protecting the future of the code

  • Nutta

    Forget the Haka for pre-game entertainment, let’s get a cage and just let these 2 have 3mins to get it out of their system. Either that or it’s the most brutal fore play I’ve seen in a long while – and there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • Keith Butler

      Couldn’t agree more. Though handbags at 30 paces would be a greater spectacle.

  • sambo6

    I really think Cheika just needs to STFU. You lost 3-0 to these guys earlier this year. Just suck it up.

    The only way to get Jones to STFU is to beat England. That’s the best statement we can make by far.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    I hope the lure of the Wallaby jersey keeps Arnold for a few more years. he’s got the potential to be up there with the best and I’d hate to lose him to some NH club. I think Kuridrani’s days will be limited by the wellbeing of Kerevi and his future is not so assured but again I hope he stays for a bit longer. I hate the way these NH clubs don’t appear to give a shit about the national teams anywhere.

    • Haz

      In fairness it is mainly France doing all the poaching.

      Yeah the prem will take those at the end of their careers like JDV, Big Kev etc but it’s the French league taking players in their prime. Ranger, Gill etc

  • Lindommer

    Surely it’s time for us to revive our “Scrum Straight You Bastards!” campaign.

    • Funk

      If I was on twitts, I would definately get that hashtag going #scrumstraightyoubastards

  • juswal

    Cheika might do well to remind Eddie of his gracious words when he was boned by the ARU in 2005:

    ‘The one thing I know is I would like to coach the Wallabies again. I’m still young, even though I’ve lost some hair. There’s no reason why I won’t be coaching the Wallabies again. And that is my intention. I want to become a better coach and coach the Wallabies again. It’s the greatest honour and privilege you can have.’

    Cheika has that great honour; Jones just has a job.

    • Haz

      Cheika is disrespecting that honour after every game with his ungracious comments and his insinuations about referees. Jones is 3-0 up against Cheika and came a hell of a lot closer to a world cup win as head coach.

      • juswal

        Don’t expect the Wallabies coach to be silent when his counterparts are playing games in the media. Hansen and Jones bait us; Cheika just needs to pick his timing and targets better when responding, and he is learning.

  • Bulldog Sing

    Jones won this battle and it seems like MC is being nicely baited again. All we need is a cartoon from the English press and everyone will collectively lose their shirt.

    Calling DC a dirty cheat is a good way to ensure he plays a blinder. Not what I would be doing if I was a loose head heading to Twickers.

    • Patrick

      Worked for us in the RWC.

      • adastra32

        A year is a long time in international rugby…as both teams are demonstrating.

    • Greg

      I think he was talking to the officials.

  • idiot savant

    Cheika is right about the northern hemisphere attack on our loose head side. I think it started with Nel against Scotland in the RWC. He angled in and pulled Sio down and got away with it and essentially this tactic has been repeated by other northern hemisphere sides.

    I didnt see the same down south but perhaps thats because we are less fixated on the scrum south of the equator.

    • Keith Butler

      Tell that to Wyatt Crockett

      • idiot savant

        He came off the bench against us this year so had less time to cheat!

  • Keith Butler

    Newsflash! Props cheat shock. It has been revealed that (insert name here) LH/TH for (insert name here) has been accused of cheating and manipulating referees into penalising his opposite number. Come on people get real they’ve been doing it for years and any scrum coach that doesn’t encourage front row to get one over the opposition by fair means or foul should be sacked. But I’m sure Ledesma and Hatley are angels.

    • Nutta

      I’m shocked and offended that you presume the fella’s with the greatest hint of paunch and grey hair (or shaved head to hide it) on any pitch anywhere around the world would be utilising anything other then pure athletic ability and puritanical good-will in their endeavours. Bloody well bewildered I tell you.

      You show me any scrum in history that was clean and I’ll show you a liar.

      What gets me is the inability of officialdom to spot it because 99 times out of 100 it’s bloody well glaringly obvious to anyone with the slightest inkling of their arse from their elbow who is doing what. You just have to watch and think a bit…(that may be the problem)

      • muffy

        Perfect example was against the frogs, they pulled back one scrum, we got pinged for early shove. It was so obvious it was scary, then the next scrum the Frogs, knowing the Aussies were gun shy, put on an almighty early shove to milk the penalty.
        It was smart tactics, but only works when you know you are getting the rub of the green come scrum time. A smart, sorry, willing ref would have pinged them both times.

      • Greg

        @Nutta so what is the solution?

        refs either guess or just let it go.

        It’s not a new problem.

        • Nutta

          See below…

      • Keith Butler

        The thought never crossed my mind. More front row forwards as refs. Poachers turned gamekeepers.

        • Nutta

          Nah. I tried Reffing. I enjoyed it to. But the poncy, uppity, frustrated-facist bureaucrat wannabe’s that tend to run those organisations didn’t like that I actually facilitated lower division / lower grade to play an actual game. They didn’t really appreciate that a minor off-side that didn’t change the flow of game wasn’t penalised, or that a gee-that-might-not-of-been a half back fumble at the base of an ugly ruck wasn’t immediately called a scrum nor that a wee bit of rucking of the No7 diving over the ball wasn’t met with cards and lectures. I didn’t blast the pea out of my whistle and instead I let guys blast out the ruck with vigour and actually play a bloody game. According to the assessors I sucked and kept getting “reviewed”. Players and coaches liked it though. Oh well…

        • Keith Butler

          You sound like my kind of ref.

        • Nutta

          I think I may of told this story before, but the last game I reffed was a 3rd grade game in 4th div subbies. Two opposing locks had been niggling each other all game and they came to mutual blows as a lineout ended about 5min before halftime. Instead of blowing it up and having everyone rush in I let the game go on and as a result no one else wanted to get involved whilst I kept half on eye on them as they threw hay-makers at each other. A couple of phases later the ball went out so I marked the lineout and walked the half a field back to where the lads had hands on knees sucking in seagulls and glaring at each other. I gave them both a yellow more to catch their breath and get cleaned up. The ref assessor lectured me about red cards and not playing on in the face of such foul play and blah blah blah. So I let them both start the 2nd half instead of doing their full 10min and never reffed again.

  • Wallaby Legion

    More fuel to add to my bonfire of hate.

  • Wallaby Legion

    Hate fuel aside, not every having scrummed myself, I am completely in the dark about the dark arts of scrum tactics.

    What should Scotty be doing when the anthropomorphic potato that is Dan Cole inevitably starts boring in? Is it a team effort from the Front Row to combat? Basically, is their a counter?

    • McWarren

      you could start by ensuring our flankers not just stay bound but actually push.

    • Nutta

      Ahhh, Pad Wan. Many moons ago I wrote a piece on what to do as the TH when the LH bores across you (assuming no Ref is helping). If you enjoy watching paint dry then reply and I’ll re-post. But you now ask the opposite – what to do if the TH is not straight and the Ref is ignorant. This is actually a lot easier to deal with.

      I also predicate by saying I’m not hinging. It’s too obvious as your hips pop up.

      The core issue is that a TH is essentially only scrumming as part of a 3man unit (TH+Lock+Loosie) whereas the LH is naturally scrumming as a 5man unit (LH+Hook+Lock+Loosie+No8). This generally gives the LH a big weight advantage, but one a lot of LH’s struggle to utilise because they have an open shoulder on the left side. But this is exactly what the TH is using against him – all that weight with nothing to push against. So first step is to recognise the TH is not over-powering the LH but is generally only redirecting his weight to where there is no resistance to keep him up. If the TH’s intent is to bore across then he is generally utilising 3 tools:

      1. by binding short (on the arm or arm-pit) to prevent the LH from “getting long”

      2. by engaging with a soft right shoulder and allowing the LH to over-extend as he slides under

      3. and then transferring his weight onto the back of the LH’s neck (pinning him under) and riding him down with the help of a short bind

      How do you stop this as a LH? There’s a bunch of tools I use in different combinations depending on opponent, Ref, conditions etc:

      1. The TH’s friend is lower body-height. So drag him up by using a shorter set with a longer bind and especially shorter outside leg to get some upwards leverage. This stops him rolling you under.

      2. Get behind your hooker to give the TH less space to manoeuvre. Essentially you wedge your right shoulder under your Hooker. This is illegal but Refs are generally blind to it. In over 35yrs of scrumming I’ve been penalised once for it. Once. This does 3 things itself:

      a) The space between you and your Hook is less so the TH is jammed in (less opportunity)

      b) Your shoulder is off-set and back against your Hooker making the TH’s boring so much more pronounced it compromises his body position (and even Helen Keller Refs can now see what he is doing)

      c) Your Hook is now leading with his left shoulder and so can now use his left shoulder to pin the TH’s chin to his chest and further compromise his body shape (and strength)

      3. Get a longer bind on the TH. By being not-straight he is already offering you his outside hip so avail yourself of the opportunity. Don’t let him trap your head too “short” up by his shoulder and force the acute angle. This also makes it very hard for the TH to drop is elbow and pull down

      4. With your longer bind, on his broadside hip, if you’re good enough, straighten and lock your elbow out. Search for a bind either on his hip or under his belly (handful of blubber and shorts is gold) and lock your arm to force his hips straight and don’t let them swing out. The under-grip is great here because he will really hurt himself if he continues the movement once you have him like that (you used to see Fat Cat use that bind a bit I think).

      5. Alternatively if you’re forced to bind shorter then roll your wrist through and push out to pull his flesh & jersey so tight he can’t roll in without skinning himself (really sucks with these new Backs-friendly synthetic jerseys). This will also put a lot of stress on his bind on you and you may break it (happy days). You do this in concert with your leading left leg as a brace. If he keeps rolling in, he will collapse in-front of you in which case make sure you walk all over him.

      6. Drop your bind and go back to a classic bridge so he can’t force you to follow him. Illegal, but once the scrum is engaged very few Refs actually notice.

      7. Drop your bind and bind on his breakaway. The BA will either come at you and so you pull him under his own Props feet or he will pull away and out and in doing so pull you away from going under the TH. Either way the scrum will break up because the BA is acting like a sook and you may choose to change the subject with a punch or two.

      • Keith Butler

        Nice summary but a little too technical for my liking. Sometimes the lock (me) pulling one through and smacking the opposition prop in the gob did the trick. No cameras or assistant referees back in them days.

      • idiot savant

        This is poetry Nutta. Great stuff.

        • Nutta

          Cheers. There is so much more I could write on the topic but it’s already War & Peace.


Nic is a freelance journalist who first tried his hand writing for Green & Gold Rugby as a schoolboy. Five years on, Nic is our resident expert on Brisbane’s local rugby scene not named RugbyReg. In April 2018 Nic releases his first book, the official biography of Waisale Serevi entitled 'Waisale Serevi: The King of Sevens'.

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