Super Rugby

Jake and Joey: Scrums and line-outs can't just be sexy

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Duane Vermeulen will be at the back of the Bulls' scrum again
Duane Vermeulen will be at the back of the Bulls' scrum again
  • While New Zealand has recently focused on making set-pieces like the scrums more of an attacking weapon, Jake White believes a balance is required.
  • In fact, his case for still emphasising set-pieces as part of a watertight defence is summed up by one phrase: "The scrum is the first tackle".
  • Joey Mongalo, the Bulls' defence guru, again reiterates that execution on defence is more important than what system is used.


The Kiwis might've made set-pieces, particularly the scrums, sexy during the recently concluded Super Rugby Aotearoa but that doesn't mean the Bulls will blindly follow suit.

Instead, Jake White, the team's director of rugby, provides a timely reminder that such platforms are both attacking and defensive.

"We try and use set-pieces as a defensive pattern as well. I think it's important," the former Springbok coach said in his latest video on the Bulls' mobile app.

"People tend to think that scrums are just an attacking platform. But there are ways in which you can put the opposition under pressure defensively. We always say that the scrum is the first tackle."

To illustrate that point, White roped in Joey Mongalo, his defence guru.

"For example, if guys are planning to have a launch off a right hand scrum with a right shoulder, we should try and give them a left shoulder to nullify their plan," said the former Lions assistant.

With prop stocks that now boast Lizo Gqoboka, Trevor Nyakane, Marcel van der Merwe and Jacques van Rooyen, the men from Loftus can confidently aim for dominance, particularly with scrum expert Daan Human still around.

Yet it doesn't end with the scrums.

"If the opposition get ten line-outs and we can win five of those in the air, then that's half of the defensive battle won already," said Mongalo.

"In broader terms, you can have a hundred different strategies. The key is to make sure that all fifteen guys are on the same page.

"Whether you do rush or slow defence, that's not really the most important consideration. It's about executing the plan, whichever one it is." 

- Compiled by Heinz Schenk   

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