Wallabies scrum bound and set for England
October 28, 2013
The Wallabies scrum has been steeled by the new scrums laws © Getty Images
The Wallabies pack was humbled at the scrum during the third Test against the British and Irish Lions in June, but James Horwill believes his set-piece has the advantage over their northern hemisphere counterparts ahead of the five-Test Grand Slam tour because they have played seven Tests under the new "crouch, bind set" law governing the engagement.
Pundits have suggested the Australian scrum will struggle against England in the opening Test of their tour, at Twickenham on Saturday, as they do every time the teams play for the Cook Cup, but Horwill noted "we've got one benefit" as the hosts were at the start of their international season and had not played under the new scrum laws.
Enter the Autumn Internationals Fantasy Game © Scrum.com
"We've played under the new laws as a scrum, they're yet to play as a team under the new laws," Horwill said. Australia's experience of the laws at Test level features matches against New Zealand, South Africa and Argentina - three of the strongest set-pieces in international rugby - and Horwill said the Wallabies pack has "a better understanding of what's expected at scrum time and what we can do to get an outcome".
"We've learned in each game that has gone by, there's little thing that have given us the outcomes we want," Horwill said. "There were some mental lapses in the scrum against New Zealand that let us down [in the third Bledisloe Cup Test]. We had some really good scrums and it was two or three that let us down, and that's not good enough. You need to be on your game in every single scrum."
Horwill said, however, that England's forwards should be suited by the law change as "they're probably more suited to the wrestling style of scrummage and not relying so much on the hit".
Ewen McKenzie wants the Grand Slam%]
"Really the new scrum laws have taken the hit away as much as possible, so it's about the technique and the drive after the engagement, and that's something they're very good at. They've got some pretty well accomplished scrummagers in there."
Horwill also noted that the success or otherwise of the set-piece in the first Test in Europe under the laws would depend "on what the referees are looking for".
''Early on when the [changes] first came in [the International Rugby Board] weren't exactly sure what they were looking for initially. 'It changed for the first three or four weeks; there were different things they thought would work. I think they've got to where they want to be now and what they want the referees to look for, so we'll just work within that mandate.''
The scrum has become a very different beast since the third Lions Test in Sydney © Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter
While the Super Rugby season enters the all-important knockout phase, elsewhere pre-season training never looked so enjoyable. We round-up the best snaps in our Week in Pictures
"Our scrums and lineouts are sometimes not that good but our men are very brave." Ken Borland finds that rugby is on the rise in Senegal