Video Analysis: Just how good was the Wallaby scrum?

Video Analysis: Just how good was the Wallaby scrum?

Video Analysis: Just how good was the Wallaby scrum?

The Wallabies got by far the better of the scrums last weekend, winning three penalties to one and a tight head. But does that the whole story?

Below is my scrum-by-scrum analysis, both in video and table view.

The upshot is that while Robinson performed well, the scrum was at its best with Slipper, Moore and Kepu on towards the end of the match.

This was because while there was overall a more assured performance as a unit, the rub of the green that went Australia’s way on penalties masked the lesser performance of Alexander. Ironic, considering the plaudits he has received.

Reviewing the scrums in the cold light of day — do you see it the same way?

[youtube id=”iLXie7LxVbQ” width=”600″ height=”350″]

  • wilful

    Well that convinces me – I am never going to understand the mysteries of the scrum, even when you slow it down and point it out to me.

    Oh and jeez the pom’s purple colour doesn’t get any easier to watch on repeat viewing.

    • Blinky Bill of Bellingen NSW

      Well said wilful. It seriously is like a bloody God damn mystery.

      I watched and sort of went ‘mmm I see’. Then I read the comments and lots of differing opinions. Seems even those in the know don’t agree. What chance for me?

      • Brumby Runner

        More to the point, what chance of getting consistent refereeing?

  • Barbarian

    Not sure about scrum #5. Australia keeps their 8 together (more or less) throughout, and the Poms are split in two. Surely that would suggest that Australia was dominant, rather than England?

    • The Stig

      TPN loses his bind on both props, particularly on Robbo. Robbo’s actually in behind TPN like he’s a lock. Then TPN stands up under the pressure. Anytime your front row falls apart like that you know there’s a problem.

      • Welsh

        Do you think that’s a bit harsh on TPN? England H and THP splinter because of weak binding by THP on his hookers shorts (see above). TPN doesn’t really have any opposition to push against and falls into a space. I agree he should have kept his bind better and perhaps Auz penalty would have been a cert?!

  • Robson

    Explains a lot to me, because I couldn’t see how Alexander had improved so much in such a short period of time that he got the accolades he did. Thanks

    • The Stig

      Robinson is the one that deserves the plaudits.

      The key battle in the scrum is the loosehead attacking the tighthead – the loosehead wins if he can neutralise the tighthead or better still get underneath him to destabilise the opposition scrum.

      Robinson controlled Cole beautifully whereas both English looseheads were forcing Alexander to stand up under the pressure. The pressure was that much greater because Timani really did add his weight to the tighthead side – Alexander was getting pressure from in front and behind.

      If not for Robinson’s performance (and Timani’s push stopping Alexander going backwards even when he’d stood up) the Wallaby scrum would have been on rollerskates. The improvement in the scrum was down to Robinson getting some form back.

      Interestingly Kepu was really poor at tighthead against France but was much better when he came on against England.

      • Patrick

        Kepu was against Nicolas Mas for France which is perhaps a different proposition..

        I thought that Timani deserves a lot of credit for his shoves, too!

  • Thierry Dusautoir

    I think you will find that alot of the arm binding by Alexander was a result of Marler constantly going for the illegal bind on the shorts. He ballsed it up for himself as if he misses that bind he is going to hinge regardless but if he gets it he is in a good position

    • Welsh

      Good comment. Is this bind likely to lead to him splintered by the hooker if his bind is weak? On a couple of the clips the FR turns into a shambles. Do you think that’s one of the main causes? Is he binding there to put more pressure on the opposition hooker and get the angle to bore in?! Cheers.

  • Johnny-boy

    I was puzzled by the ravings about Alexander. Our standards and expectations have fallen so low under Deans anything other than a penalty try is seen as momentous. I thought Alexander was auditioning for the space program.

  • NTA

    Disagree with your assessment of #3 – Marler was a pointing inwards on the set, and when it hit, Alexander drove through Marler’s shoulder because the lock behind Marler wasn’t bound tight enough. Note that this one should have been a penalty to Australia for Robshaw sliding up onto Robinson’s loose side.

    #4 should have been a penalty for binding the arm long before it went down.

    #7 – first penalty is binding the arm. We were lucky but we won the hit so well we deserved to be given the advantage.

    #8 – once again Robshaw slides up to hassle Robinson when its clear Cole can’t finish him off. Penalty offence that I wish more refs would cotton on to – McCaw does it all the time.

    #11 – Vunipola never gets a bind on, then goes straight in and up. That was a line call and the ref let it go out of need to get on with the game

    All of the England scrums show how poor the binding of the loosehead lock is – the arse of the LHP is wide out and any time Alexander drives straight, the England LHP gets twisted in. Most of the time Marler tries to recover, whereas Vunipola just drives straight in sideways to destabilise.

    The last scrum featuring Kepu at THP shows his usefulness in the position over Alexander – Vunipola is bound tight, Keps locks down and won’t let him turn in.

    • Patrick

      The McCaw problem used to be dealt with by an uppercut. It probably should still be.

    • The Stig

      There is actually no restriction against the flanker sliding up – the requirement for a flanker is to be bound to a lock – law 20.3(f).

      A flanker can move around – for example see 20.3(g) which specifically confirms the flanker can bind on the scrum at any angle, as long as they are bound correctly (which means with the whole arm, although that’s not really penalised any more).

      If the whole arm of the flanker stays on the scrum and the hand is bound onto the lock, nothing to stop the flanker sliding up.

      • dudebudstud

        I think you missed the intention of 20.3 (g). This allows the flanker to bind at an angle, but he can’t alter it in an attempt to block the opposing scrum half.

      • The final part of 20.3(g) is the problem though. No other player other than a prop may hold an opponent. The flanker usually grabs on.

      • NTA

        Its not physically possible for the flanker to bind to his lock with the whole arm and simultaneously be in that position. Therefore refs should find this an easy one to tick off on their list. Personally, I’d release the bind on Cole and elbow Robshaw in the jaw the second time, then see if he wanted to go again.

  • Hannibal

    I just dont understand how anyone can be definitive about most of these scrums. Both sides are doing something illegal 90% of the time.

    Whats the law about the #7 walking up the side of the scrum? Its so obvious but they never get penalised

    • NTA

      Doing something illegal 90% of the time = rugby. Shame, but there it is. Too many Laws, not enough Rules.

  • dudebudstud

    #2 No where in the law book does it state you can be penalized for standing in a scrum. You can be penalized for driving an opposing front row upwards in a scrum.

    • dudebudstud

      It is conceivable that a prop can keep his bind (on the side or back of the opposing prop) and still stand up. The specific act of standing up in a scrum is not penalizable. If you are going to penalize Alexander in this case under 20.3 (a) then say it is because he has lost his bind. You cant make up laws.

      Most times when a prop stands up it is because he is under extreme pressure, usually on the neck and back. He is standing to release that pressure. While some refs will penalize for standing in the scrum, again there is nothing specific that says standing up is wrong. The closest law would be 20.2 (a) which says front rowers must be in a position to shove. The sanction for not doing this is only a FK

      • dudebudstud
        • The Stig

          That discussion includes support for both 20.3(a) and 20.2(a) being the offence.

          Agree that there is no specific law on standing up but it is accepted practice that players are penalised for standing up – the referees have even developed a signal to indicate the offence was standing up – that signal is not in the laws either (same signal was used in the match at 62:18 when penalising Alexander).

          Have you ever seen a referee award a free kick when using the signal indicating standing up?

          It’s not physically possible to stand up and maintain a “firm and continuous bind” with the “full arm from hand to shoulder” unless the player next to you also stands up, and then he’s not bound properly. Hence when standing up the player is in breach of 20.3 (a).

          There are plenty of laws in rugby that are applied not strictly in accordance with the laws but have become accepted practice. Flankers not staying bound with the full arm and ball not being fed straight down the middle of the scrum tunnel are just two that are currently not being applied in accordance with the laws.

        • dudebudstud

          I don’t think you read that thread properly. The consensus is that there is no law that allows a referee to penalize for standing up in a scrum.
          Props are not required to bind from hand to shoulder. Props are only required to bind by grabbing the jersey on the side or back of the opposing prop. See laws 20.3 (c) and (d). “Accepted practice” is not ok. If it’s not in the law book or a law clarification then it’s not a law. Flankers binding and scrum feeds may not be enforced as they should, but they are still laws. Penalizing for standing up in a scrum is inventing a new law.

          A referee who penalizes for standing in the scrum is not disregarding the law – he is creating a new one.

        • The Stig

          Laws 20.3(c) and (d) have no relevance – they deal with how you bind on the opposition players.

          The issue with standing up is the bind with your own team-mates, not the opposition..

          The definition of binding says:

          “When a player binds on a team-mate that player must use the whole arm from hand to shoulder to grasp the team-mate’s body at or below the level of the armpit. Placing only a hand on another player is not satisfactory binding.”

          That applies to the front row as well – when a prop stands up they cannot keep their shoulder in contact with their hooker (their team-mate) and so breach law 20.3 (a) which specifically requires front row players to stay “firmly and continuously” bound with their team-mate “from the start to the finish of the scrum”.

          Whether the referee should say the words “number 3 breaking their bind” or “number 3 standing up” is a whole other debate. The act of standing up breaks the bind and is penalised.

        • dudebudstud

          Again, nowhere does it say how the props should bind to their own players (ie the hooker). The laws only make note of how props must bind on the opposition. Read the second post in the thread I referenced earlier.

        • The Stig

          Really? I quoted the definition of binding for you above but if you want to read it for yourself it’s on page 137 of the IRB law book immediately before law 20.3(a).

          Are you suggesting that the word “player” in the definition doesn’t include a prop? Or are you suggesting that the reference to binding in 20.3(a) should be read by ignoring the definition of binding?

        • dudebudstud

          Hand signals to denote what a penalty is for are known as secondary signals. ie Penalty (hand up and at an angle pointing to the team that gets the ball), for hands in a ruck (sweeping motion with hands). These secondary signals are for the players and crowd to understand what is happening. Creating a secondary signal for “standing up” does not make it a law. They are simply used as a communication tool. I have not seen the signal you are referring to but it is likely the “hinging” signal that can be also used to to signal that a prop has put his shoulders below his hips and destabilized the scrum.

          You should really get someone with refereeing experience on staff. One of the blights of rugby is commentators and pundits not fully understanding the laws and spreading disinformation.

  • J T

    I don’t agree with half of your analysis there. Number 8 should have been an Aus penalty for the England 7 playing as another front rower. 11 should have been an Aus penalty for the England front rower driving from a 60 degree angle straight up. A few of the others are similar. Not that I think our scrum is good – just calling it as I see it.

  • Rugbysmartarse

    this analysis strengthens my resolve that the first step in sorting out the scrum is to make the front rowers bind before engaging. How manay of the penalties in the above could have been saved if Marler and Alexander were correctly bound? at least 3 of the 16 by my count

  • goldie

    It’s as simple as the poms were crap and we were ordinary, look for the italian’s to exploit us this week!

  • Jimmydubs

    stig has to be Austin, no?

  • Nutta

    Bloody good article Stig. Disagreed with you on No11 though. Benny A had his outside shoulder too high/exposed pre-engage. It’s this whole text-book approach to stance to be sure the chest is out. You need to vary your stance so your opponent doesn’t get a read on you. Anyway, this bit of gym-mirror flexing let the Samoan lad go long then step around and drive up & under (like a good loose head would). Driving up and under is technically both boring-in (not staying straight) & dangerous play (leads to popping). Now I don’t necessarily agree with that – I say Benny A left himself exposed and his opponent took advantage of it so full balls to him – but that’s the way it is reffed. So it should of been a penalty to Aus even if to be honest I think that is only penalising good smart scrumming and rewarding “robotic” playing by Benny A

  • Brumby Runner

    Stig, It looks to me that you have a bit of a bug about Benny A. I don’t profess to know the ins and outs of scrums but I’ve had a close look at each scrum in the video bearing in mind your observations and other posts about scrum infringements here.

    I think there is so much room for referee’s interpretations, but here are some instances where I would disagree with your observations.

    3 – My take is that Robbo is boring in and probably should have been penalised.

    4 – Robbo collapsed. Cole was still bound correctly when Robbo has his hand on the ground.

    5 – TPN and Benny A still have their bind well after the scrum disintegrates. Robbo lost his bind and this led to the scrum falling apart.

    9 – I cannot see anything wrong with Benny A’s bind. It was on the bicep area (which I believe to be legal). Marler attempted to bind to Ben’s shorts.

    10 – The ball is out of the scrum before Benny A stood up. He still has a full bind on TPN when the ball is picked up by Palu.

    11 – To me this is clearly a case of the English front row illegally pushing up. Also, not helped by the English 7 pushing up into the front row, probably unbound.

    12 – English loose head binds underneath Benny A and pulls him down.

    I think each case can be argued from various points of view, but overall I think the Ref got it pretty right. I don’t think Benny A was at fault as much as you say. Also, I doubt that in any scrum the flankers remain bound according to the laws until the scrum has completed. For example, look at the English flankers in each of scrums 1 – 16.

  • SuckerForRed

    Couple of points. Then I will watch again closer.

    Is the 8 allowed to handle the ball in the scrum? I always thought that the ball had to be at his feet before he could unbind & pick the ball up. Ball had to make its way to the 8 via feet. I just noticed that a couple of times Palu quite clearly uses his hand to get the ball out from under the front row. Lucky he has long arms…..

    “Good AUS scrum – flankers stayed on” No shit Sherlock. One of my pet hates is the backrow bloody meerkatting at scrum time. Put your head down and push, and low and behold the scrum is stable.

  • Bobas

    I would trust a Scott Allen voice over but not this.

  • Haha number 5 is a ridiculous call he dropped his bind and was not dragged down, also pulling down is not an offence while properly bound…and please dont rain in the criticism instantly I am a referee and am right in this (I know its often the penalty discussed but pulling down your opposite prop is not against the law if you are properly bound…seriously check it out)

  • sorry meant 4 :S my bad

  • Also I think the article misses the big point that the scrum is not usually an Aussie strong point and is usually something England target when they play Aus so it is remarkable how badly England did in this department…it is the equivalent of the England backs running the Aussie backs off the park …that is why Robinson was given such plaudit and fair enough..just as the England backs would get if they run the Aussies off the park


Some say say the big bang was caused when he packed at tight head and others say that John Eales was born when William Webb Ellis tried to perform Inception on him. All we know is he's the Stig.

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