The tight head prop is the anchor in the scrum and leads the attack on the opposition scrum. He must be a rock solid scrimmager. Total concentration at the scrum is required to be effective, making the scrum an attacking weapon, wearing down the opposition as the match progresses.
In Elite rugby the search for the THP is always on: no THP, no Scrum, no platform. Back at Toulon Carl Hayman was making more money than Wilco!
Props must be the most intense players on the pitch. This intensity must show during a scrum. The focus and concentration–physical, mental, emotional–required to dominate in the scrum, particularly at elite levels, far surpasses that displayed by other players.
There is a difference in the two prop positions that could very well be reflected in the character of the players. The LH needs to be more aggressive. And although the TH will always be facing both the opposition Hooker and LH and will always be dominated, he should be determined to pin the opposition LH down.
The TH wants to utilise his natural advantage of being on the inside and drive back along his spine. Although he should be aggressive, he needs to be focused on his goal. He wants to push right through the second row and dominate the opposition LH.
A number of things to do here:
- (usually No. 1) take up a stance and stand square at the throw-in;
- support the jumper in his leap (strength and timing);
- bind and drive in the follow up, other players will look after the ball;
Open Play – Attack
Nowadays being mobile is important – in effect another back row player – and being comfortable with the ball in hand. In today’s modern fast dynamic game it is essential that the two props get to the breakdown quickly (the first few meters are important from set play) and make their presence felt with the binding and driving, strong mauling, the occasional pick-and-go and as a runner off 2nd phase ball.
Go forward at all times.
This player has to be an all-rounder in open play and is an excellent passer off both hands.
Open Play -Defense
A good defender around the fringes and in cover, and a nimble elusive runner who can sniff a gap and ‘snipe’ from both set and broken play.
He must be a strong scrimmager, strong runner and competitive. One of the most vital positions in the team having to make important decisions at scrum and Line-Out time.
“The best coach is the player next to you”: during the match a lot of coaching should go on. Think about how things are going, what works and what not. Examples:
- “let’s put it in quickly because our opponent is too strong and we can’t hold the scrums”
- “bit higher, bit lower, a bit closer, more distance, …”)
I have set up a special page regarding the hooker and the scrum. More on the functional role idea:
- intro on functional roles;
- the place of functional roles in teambuilding;
- functional roles in open play;
- Wiki page for Adam Jones, one of our favourites;
With these pages I hope to identify the main tasks that come along with this position. To agree with these tasks is important. Performing the tasks is the third thing.
Doing all three with all the players in the team is a elementary step to a successful team !
Note: this page is based on IRB coaching material, my own experiences and feedback from other coaches. Thanks Norman!
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