Belfast Telegraph

Gatland has no fear of All Blacks' scrum

 

By Nick Purewal

Warren Gatland believes his British and Irish Lions can match the All Blacks scrum - however the set-piece is refereed.

Head coach Gatland was nonplussed by criticism of the Lions' scrum in their impressive 12-3 win over the Crusaders, who fielded a full All Blacks tight-five.

The Lions appeared dominant at the coal face, save for one scrum where the hosts got the edge, resulting in an extended bout of jostling between the two packs.

The Crusaders appeared to be annoyed with referee Mathieu Raynal's handling of the scrum engagement laws, but Gatland rejected those concerns and insisted the Lions have prepared to cope with every style of officiating.

"I felt they had one scrum where they had some ascendancy; there was one where they just got a little bit under us," said Gatland.

"But I thought on the whole we scrummaged pretty well. I know there was some discussion, but I thought the referee did a good job; I didn't have any issues with that.

"It's an area that we'll keep working hard on. We've spoken to the front-rowers about that.

"It's not something I'm concerned about. I'm a little bit surprised that such a huge amount's been made of the scrum.

"If you look at the numbers elsewhere in terms of every other area of the game (against the Crusaders), I thought we dominated in every other area - lineout, territory, possession, carries, line breaks.

"So I think our scrum will be very strong by the time we come around to Test time."

The northern and southern hemispheres have always favoured differing scrummaging styles, with the contrasts often leading to flashpoints in contests of the highest stakes.

Gatland's comments suggest the Lions boss expects no different across the course of the 10-match New Zealand tour, with the Test series getting under way on June 24 in Auckland.

Whatever the policing when the front-rows pack down however, Gatland remains confident the Lions have the versatility and the potency to cope at the set-piece.

"I know there's some discussion about engagement, the ruling says you must have a small gap and in Super Rugby they pre-load," said Gatland.

"We've practised for both scenarios. So we have prepared to fully pre-load, and we've also practised with having a slight gap as well, depending on how the referee interprets it.

"The law says there must be a small gap; they don't play to the law of the game. So Super Rugby sides tend to scrummage illegally, if that's the case. But I don't think the scrum's going to be a problem for us."

Belfast Telegraph

How to Complain

If you have a complaint about the editorial content of the Belfast Telegraph or Sunday Life then contact the Editor here. If you are not satisfied with the response provided then you can contact the Independent Press Standards Organisation here

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph