The scrum is a still an important part of the game. Seeing the scrum go forward gives the team heart. This page describes scrum techniques. It is a collection from posts to my own forum and to the rugby coaching mailserv and from my own experiences. Please forgive me if I leave names of people who participated out......

Scrum and Teambuilding

Scrumming is a great teambuilding exercise! I discussed teambuilding as we know it in the corporate world with off-site activities like building rafts and crossing a gorge with ropes with a professional in that field. I wanted to know if this was something for us. His answer: "What you rugby players do with the scrum, that is what we are all jealous of!".

Think about it, scrummaging is teambuilding.


There are about 20 scrums in game, scrums used to be more of a contest, now the focus is more on the scrum as a platform for a new attack. Lots of options available:

  • back row moves
  • open up wide
  • scrum half to kick
  • blind side attack
  • push over try

So, the scrum is important ! What does it mean for you the coach?


For the team to scrum correctly you must work together and practice. Binding, timing of the strike, the push, coordinating the wheel, etc. You should at least equal the 20 scrums you have the in game during practice.

In my two sessions a week schedule I always plan the unit work on Thursday and look at the opposition for the weekend to decide when to plan a specific scrum training. At Sparta it was always a bit of gues who would attent or not, so I started to scrum every Thursday but depending on the number of players we did the full on thing with the machine or 1v1 / 2v1 / 3v2 / etc. approach. This turned out a great idea! Players really liked to work on the scrum, nomatter the format.

Body Strength

As a great developer of body strength I have lots of individual scrumming work with the forwards, 1 vs 1, 1 vs 2, 2 vs 2, etc. It helps the players get comfortable with binding, foot work, training their body in a very dynamic way. (and they like the wrestling too!)

Building the Scrum

By Jeff Hollier

I spent years building the pack a "row" at a time, and became very unhappy with it. The original problem that I specifically needed to fix which led to my current paradigm was that I was not getting any push out of the flankers. They were just hanging on waiting to break.

I now start with individual mechanics for everyone (that would be the one at a time). Then I talk about the upper body requirements of the TH and the tunnel responsibilities of the LH. And about angle of attack at the engagement.

Now here is where I get some strange looks from players who have never trained with me before. I build the scrum as two driving pods. I usually cover line-outs and lifting first so the analogy to the lifting pods is very handy here. I put a prop on the sled with a lock and flanker behind him/her. Discuss vectors of force and who the lock does and does not push against. (I actually make the locks tell me who their inside shoulder is pushing against - remember, there is no hooker there - when they say "no one" I tell them "good, let's keep it that way").

I put two of these pods on the sled and we work on engagement and drive with just the 6 of them without letting the locks or props bind together. This forces the flankers to equalize the drive or their prop gets pushed out. (I also have a little speech about flanker being the most glamorous position on the field and with that comes much greater responsibility to push AND break quickly, not one or the other.)

I add the 8 next and let the locks bind together and work on the two locks as the intersection of the pods, not the hooker. We work without a hooker for awhile, finally adding him/her to the mix.

This stress on the two pushing pods has really changed the focus of the players on the responsibilities in the scrum. In this fashion, the hooker is really an outsider and gets to focus on his/her individual body positioning and responsibilities and his/her push when added is extra, not assumed.

I really like this progression through the training sequence and the analogy to the lifting pods. It has certainly changed the contribution we get from our flankers.

This method is ONLY appropriate for sled work. In my opinion it is too dangerous to drop out the hooker in "live" work, and if the props bind tight, there is no room for the locks' feet and the whole thing would be very unstable.

3 v. 3 option:
You can work with driving pods without a machine, though. Just reverse one of the pods. So, in the pod you are working you have a prop up front, with a flanker and lock behind him/her. In the other pod, just there for resistance unless you have a 2nd row and #8 you really want to work, you have two up front and one behind. This is much more stable and the force is directed in-line. Prop's head goes in the middle and everyone pushes. Not as good as the sled work, but gets the point across.

Building the scrum

Achieving a precise throw in requires hours of practice to master the different types of throws such as the lob or the flat throw, and adjust them to the different types of jumps -forward or back

Prevent opposition Loose Head boring in

By Jeff Hollier, Coach VRFC, VRU Men, VRU Women.

Key points:

  • Tightening up flankers angle of drive
  • Setting your prop a half step to the left
  • Tightening prop's arm bind to hooker
  • Completely prepare for engagement before dipping shoulders and ref's call
  • Shooting head to opposition prop's sternum before s/he shoots for yours
  • Angling prop's drive slightly outward to hold opposition prop out

Some really good discussion going on about preventing boring from the opposition LH here. In particular, the suggestion about the prop/lock/flank power triad, and angles of push.

While normally, I have a hard time getting my flanker to push hard enough, when the opposition prop is boring, too much push from the typical flanking angle can actually accentuate the boring action and be destructive to your own pack.

In this case, I would instruct my flanker to move his/her hips closer to the lock and drive straighter, rather than in. When the opposition prop is boring, it's not usually the case that your props hips are swinging wide, they are going straight but his/her shoulders are being driven in. Get your flankers force more in line with a straight drive to help your prop counter the inward pressure by increasing the outward force of the lock. This all fails if your prop's hips begin to swivel outward, however and the flanker has to go back to holding them in. (think of vectors of force: lock and flank angular force countering each other resulting in a straight ahead drive, now think of that force with the props spine in line vs. canted inward and anchored at his/her shoulders.)

The other important point raised in this discussion is the initial hit by the pack. Specifically, by the prop in trouble. When an opposition prop bores, the most important period of time for action is at the initial contact. In order to bore, the opposition prop has to take away your props center line, i.e. get his/her head under your props sternum, in order to drive the head in. At contact, your prop should shoot for the LH's sternum rather than the cozy niche under the armpit. This will help hold the opposition prop out. If your prop can take away the opposition prop's sternum, s/he will have swing his/her hips way outside to drive inward. This proper placement of your prop's head combined with the lock/flank drive directed slightly outward will do more to stop boring than inament.

To round out the whole picture you have to go back to the early engagement. The otherpack is engaging early specifically to get the advantage of the center line. If your prop isn't ready for it, s/he can't prevent it. Have your front row stay up until everything is ready (all 8 in position and mentally prepared for engagement). Teach them that once they drop their shoulders, they should expect the opposition to engage. Before the game, ask the ref if his/her call of
"ENGAGE" is a command to engage or simply letting them begin their cadence. If it is a command, teach them to engage on that command, if it is a signal to begin their cadence, teach them to begin it before the call and hold it so that they treat the ref's call as a command.
Most teams have a cadence similar to "Squeeze, knees, ENGAGE!" Go through the "Squeeze, knees" bit before the ref's call and hold for "ENGAGE", or before dipping shoulders (this latter is harder).

Finally, have your prop take a half step to the left in preparation for shooting outward. Hips stay anchored to his/her hooker but the shoulders and head move outward to his/her opposition's sternum.

All of these "tips" have to happen together or they don't work. The shot for the sternum relies on initial position and engaging at or before the opposition's engagement. Support for sustaining the angle of drive slightly outward relies on hip position, tight arm bind to the hooker and tighter angle of drive by the flanker.

General issues

You can have a look at the individual positional requirements and more on the functional role idea:

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 !