There are two prop forwards in each pack. Their main role is to provide a solid platform and support for the hooker to win and control the ball quickly. They will absorb much of the opposition’s drive through their legs and should take short backwards steps only if absolutely necessary. They try to keep their weight just in front of their stance. Their inside hips should be as close to the centre of the scrum as possible with their inside feet almost touching each other. Their inner leg thighs should be almost vertical so that their knees are not ahead of their hips
In the scrum, the loose-head prop (left of hooker) is a key figure. The generaly accepted foot position is to have his legs apart; his right foot sometimes almost behind the hooker’s left foot and his left leg is usually slightly in advance of his right leg. This provides a solid base from which to operate. The ball, when struck moves back between his legs.
The tight-head prop (right of hooker) on his own put-in is concerned with resisting shove and transmitting drive. He must put his feet in an appropriate position to achieve this. This video is a bit advanced but is worth watching. If you have questions, please ask me.
The hooker on his own put-in must first of all be in a comfortable position to strike for the ball. They will want their feet slightly pointing towards the mouth of tunnel where the scrum half puts in the ball. Their right leg or striking foot must be in contact with the ground. They will use their right leg to strike either planting forward and directing a rebound down either channel or hooking in a circular motion and forcing the ball down the channels with your heel. My preference is the former if at all possible. On the opposition put-in it has often been seen to be selfish or impolite to strike for their put-in but I believe we should strike against the head (their put-in from our tight head side) when we feel we have a good chance to win the ball.
As you grow older, increasing the speed of your strike will become less and less important, because the props in senior rugby are strong enough to protect the possession and will not bend to the pressure exerted by your opponents. Your strike always needs to be fast and firm. In your own scrums you have an advantage being half a body closer to where the ball is put in and it is coming from your left.
Locks must pack in such a way that they do not block the ball channels. This is particularly important for the left hand Lock. Both feet should be back or with one slightly ahead of the other in order to maintain a drive should a shove be needed. This ‘both feet’ position is much stronger than having one further in front of the other. Their main priority in the scrum is to push, resist being pushed and provide a solid support for the front row.
The Flankers and 8 pack in with both feet similar to the Locks but they must be aware that they may need to move their feet to control the ball if it is not clean through the channels. This video takes the pushing angles and positioning into advanced territory but don’t worry if you don’t understand it .. just pay attention to the arrows to get an idea of how the flanks interact with the locks and prop for pushing.
I have been mentioning ball channels a bit so perhaps it is time to discuss the channels and what they are. These roughly described are the paths through the prop’s, locks and 8’s legs that the ball will follow upon a successful hooker strike. There is often a bit of an argument on which is the best of the 2 channels to direct the ball through. Channel 1 is the quick one, where the ball is struck down the left-hand side of the scrum through the loose head prop’s legs and between the left lock and left flanker. Channel 2 is for the controlled strike through the loose head prop’s legs down between the locks to between the 8’s feet. Channel 1 is often seen as very risky but if the ball is struck cleanly and under control, it can be very fast, quality possession.
If the ball hits feet and such on the way through, and gets slowed down then Channel 2 is likely the better channel to use in order to protect the scrum half. If the scrum half is not that quick, then Channel 2 is the better selection as it gives them time to get back, set and ready to deal with the ball.
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If the pack instigates an explosive drive upon ball put-in it is difficutl to resist. This is called a Snap Push. The pack can set up with legs flexed and ready to shove on a trigger. Often this is something called out by the pack captain or on an action such as the ball put-in. When that trigger occurs, the pack drives explosively with their legs and pull tight on their binds. The pack captain could have the entire pack shout at the moment of the shove to ensure good timing of that Snap. This can be used effectively on opposition put-ins to try and shove over the ball and take possession of their ball or on our own put-in and is especially effective when close to the opposition try line allowing the pack to maintain control of the ball and keeping the defence under pressure and off balance.
Locking the scrum is a great technique to use especially if our pack is smaller or lighter than our opposition’s. The principle of the lock scrum is one of a straight line. Straight back, hips low and straight legs. It is very difficult to push an individual who adopts this position let alone 8 players all in this position. It isn’t always easy for the props to get in a fully locked position because they cannot get their hips too low but they can modify as best they can. The locks, flankers and 8 can get in extreme lock positions and be very effective. Now, not only can you use this to prevent being pushed back but you can add in a drive forward. Lets say we locked the scrum, the ball was put in and hooked back to between the 8’s feet. If the opposition tried to shove over and our lock held there will be that inevitable relaxation as the opposition finishes their shove attempt. We will be able to feel that and use it as a signal to drive forward ourselves.