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27th Jun 2018

Mike Ross gives expert tips on how to scrummage

Jack O'Toole

Mike Ross played 12 years of professional rugby and amassed 61 caps for Ireland. He’s spent a lot of time in the front-row.

The former Leinster tighthead was a technically gifted scrummager and since his retirement he has undertaken a role with the Irish women’s team as their scrum coach.

Ross was renowned through his playing career for his scrummaging expertise and he took to Reddit on Wednesday to give some very specific advice on how to scrummage.

It’s well worth reading if you’re an aspiring front-rower, or if you just want to develop a greater understanding of an area of the game that very few truly understand.

Ross wrote:

“Lot of information to get across here but I’ll do my best.

“Usually I try to have the same setup before every scrum, feet shoulder width apart, split stance, with my left foot back where I want it to be on the engagement. I make sure my left arm is bound on the hooker’s shorts or shirt (depending on the width of the hooker!) and my left shoulder is pulled out from under his armpit and my head is ahead of the loosehead’s.

“On the “crouch” command I sink my hips down, and on the “bind” I move my right foot back parallel to my left and sink down further. On the “engage” I bind on the back and launch forward, dropping my chest down and through, and trying not to move my feet except to go forward.

“Having your legs back at 110 to 120 degrees from your body is the optimum pushing position, so always work to have your feet back sufficiently at the engagement. Think of it this way, is it easier to lift weight from a high or low squat? It’s always easier to lift from a high squat, so don’t get too cramped up.

“If the loosehead you’re up against is angling across, fight him for headspace prior to engagement. You do this by moving your head across and getting cheek to cheek, and really forcing his head out to your right. Be obnoxious about it. Now if he wants to angle he has to swing his body out more, which will hopefully leave a gap on his inside that you can come barrelling through.

“If the opposition tighthead is angling, it’s actually your job to stop him. If you bore in, it’ll block him from coming across, and allow your loosehead to pick him up and ragdoll him hopefully!”

Ross was also answering questions from users with one user asking him how to make penalties go their way and if they force the loosehead down and he ends up kissing his knee or the ground, is that good? Or is a stable scrum always gonna be better to avoid the call going against you?

Ross replied:

“Usually if you go forward you win. If the loosehead goes down and you end up walking over him, 9 times out of 10 you get the penalty.”

You can read the full thread here.

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