How to scrummage as a hooker

How to scrummage as a hooker.

Even in modern rugby the hooker still has to strike for the ball and do this when he/she is under pressure from the opposition hooker and Tighthead (right-hand prop). You aslo need to know how to scrummage as a hooker

He/she needs to make sure his/her set-up is solid and that he is in the best position to hook and then push once he has hooked the ball back. Here are a few tips for the hooker scrum position.

 

How to scrummage as a hooker on – Your OWN put-in:

Feet positions

Right foot in front of the left foot for the strike, (split stance). “Toe to heel” meaning left toe in line with right heel. i.e., the right foot is slight forward of the left foot.

Hips should be slightly angled towards the ball.

Weight evenly distributed on both feet if possible. Because of the pressure coming from players from behind, you as hooker may need to put more weight on your forward right foot to steady the scrum. This acts as a sort of “foot brake” to hold back the scrum potential energy. This foot break needs to be released on engagement. This means dropping the right foot back just in front of the left foot on engagement

After engagement the hooker is ready for the strike – right foot in front of left.

 

The head position

As a hooker, you should be in a position to see the ball to strike. Therefore, as hooker you should aim to hit at the opposition hooker’s right side. This is “the GAP” where the shoulders of the opposition Tighthead and hooker meet. This should be the target for the hooker’s head.

Keep your eyes open before impact. This is important to avoiding injury and maximise impact.

Some hookers scrunch their neck into their shoulders just before impact. It stops the head moving around and squares the shoulders.

As a hooker, after engagement, you need to bear the majority of your weight down on your opposition hookers neck with your right shoulder (to stop him/her attacking you or getting underneath you) and at the same time drive with your left leg. Because your hips are angled towards the ball and you are looking out towards the scrum half you are now in a position to strike

To hook the ball, simply, slide your foot across, make contact with the ball with the instep of your foot and scoop the ball back. You don’t have to strike/hit the ball back. Just a controlled scoop backwards provides more ball control.

When hooking the ball, do not lift your striking leg!! (Do not do as the hooker in the above video did). As demonstrated in the video when you lift your leg off the ground your hips raise up, this weakens your drive and de-stabilises your scrum. A simple “slide across and scoop” is the most efficient and effective strike.

This “slide and scoop” allows you to keeping driving off your left leg during the hook.

Keep your feet well back. Hip angle between 120 and 140 degrees. Feet are “Toe to heel” meaning left toe in line with right heel. i.e., the right foot is slight forward of the left foot.

 

How to scrummage as a hooker on – Opposition put-in:

Feet positions

A hooker should scrummage like a prop on the opposition ball. Feet should be in the best position to push: As on your own ball, keep your feet well back. Hip angle between 120 and 140 degrees. “Toe to heel” meaning left toe in line with right heel. i.e., the right foot is slight forward of the left foot.

As a hooker you may want to go for a strike against the head on occasion. Do this sparingly to surprise the opposition. This can be done 2 ways.

  1. Engage with normal stance, right foot slightly forward of the left foot, (toe to heel). As the ball comes in use the left foot to drive/push off and go for the ball with the outside or heel of the right foot. The timing has to be good. You may need to anticipate the ball coming in.

Top hooking tip = the best time to go for a strike against the head is a few scrum’s into the game when you as hooker has had a chance to get the feeling of the opposition put-in timing. Getting a turnover strike on the oppositions first scrum ball is a difficult thing to do as you have not had a feel of the opposition scrum-half + hooker timing.

Keep in mind, whenever you go for a strike against the head the disadvantage is you have given away the element of surprise but the advantage is you give the opposition one more thing to worry about.

It is up to each individual scrum to choose how to play the strike against the head.

2.Go for the push. This can be done in many ways. Straight push, wheel, Tighthead up, Loosehead up, through the hooker etc. No matter which tactic you use, generally speaking, the hooker is aiming to split the connection between the opposition Tighthead and opposition Hooker. As a Hooker you are bearing your weight down on your opposition hookers neck with your right shoulder and at the same time driving with your feet in the way we spoke above.

2 Comments

  1. Alan Whelan Hosftrs U RFC Coach

    Excellent commentary on hooker tactics. As the game constantly changes we are forced to rethink the way we did things yesterday or yesteryear. The IRB in its infinite wisdom is constantly trying to make the game safer and more player and spectator friendly. I personally think they have done a pretty good job as I played back circa 1950 to 75 when both sets of forwards simply just formed up and slammed into each other without a word from the referee other than “Scrum” here . In order to get the ball out of the scrum as quickly possible the IRB is now allowing the crooked put in which we are all getting used to and beginning to accept. For the most part it makes striking for the ball against the head redundant. At the highest level we see the ball constantly going from the hands of the #9 to the feet of the locks back to the #8 and back into the hands of the #9 and out to the backs. Now let’s face it that’s a good thing. However, what I believe has gotten out of hand in the scrums today is the ” Pop or Drop” syndrome. Props today appear to be hell bent popping or dropping their opposite numbers to get the penalty. With the accuracy of top class players from the tee today this is ruining the game. Teams are using the scrum to scam a penalty at any costs. Hopefully the IRB will get around to fixing this problem ASAP.
    Good job on this article Scrum Doctor, well done.

  2. chris morgan

    Not sure that i agree. The ball should be put in straight at the scrum so that both teams can use their skills to win the ball. Due to the rule changes over the years, scrums take longer due to the amount of resets that are called by the referee.
    Before the Referee called the scrum,it then formed and the ball came in. The skill base was more advanced then that it is now. A lot of teams now do not hook the ball in the scrums and alot of them have never been taught to hook!!!
    Very slowly 15 a side Rugby is loosing its identity. It is more like Rugby League where the scrum is just a non dis script phase of the game, on top of which half of the team changes during the game which does not always make for good spectator viewing.

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