Scrum analysis of Wales V Ireland 2016 6 nations. “Loosing the squeeze”

Key scrum points from Ireland v Wales 2016 -“loosing the squeeze”

  • “Loosing the squeeze” in a rugby scrum means loosing the tightness in the binds of the players and the lessening of the potential energy built up in your scrum. To explain this in more detail we need to detail a few facts first.
  • A pack of forwards can hold far more pressure than they can exert. For example, if you had 8 forwards in a scrum each weighting 100kg, this amounts to a total of 800kg. This pack will be able to push about 1,200kg (this weight is not totally accurate, I am just using it to demonstrate my point). The same group of forwards using the same technique can hold/resist the force of 2,000kg pushing against them. This has been scientifically proven. This large difference in results means if a team starts to push against your scrum, your scrum is better off not trying to push back to counteract the opposition shove but to hold the pressure of the opposition shove instead. Your opposition scrum will eventually either get fatigued from pushing or will relax slightly under the pressure. This is sometimes reffered  to as “loosing the squeeze”. This is the exact moment your scrum should scrum back and initiate its own push. This is what Wales did in the scrum above.
  • Both scrums were evenly matched (Ireland and Wales). There is very little difference between the scrum quality of the top 15 international teams in world rugby. The rugby world cup 2015 proved this. All teams at the world cup had a good scrum. Each scrum was well coached. This shows the importance of quality scrum coaches. Every international team has a scrum expert as part of their coaching staff. The teams know they can not afford to be without a quality person in this area.
  • Ireland (defensive scrum) were correct in applying pressure on the put-in to the scrum. This is the instant when every attacking scrum is at its most vulnerable. This is when the hooker needs to lift his right leg to strike. During this time the attacking scrum are down a pushing man. With good technique and coaching a hooker can be taught to slide his/her foot rather than lift it to strike to minimise his/her slight loss of pushing power. His engagement angle and how he drives against his opposing hooker can minimise loss of power also.
  • Another tactic on your own ball is too not strike at all. This is a risky tactic, sometimes, as you are totally reliant on the power of your scrum with no plan B (striking the ball) if it does not work. Wales backed the power of their scrum on this occasion. They did not strike. They committed fully to pushing forward past the ball and it worked.
  • Ireland engaged and went for the push immediately on the put-in. They did not get the push on. Instead Wales held the Ireland attack. Then Ireland lost concentration for a split second and relaxed their pressure -“loosing the squeeze”. They lost their squeeze and loosened slightly as a pack. This is why all good scrum coaches will tell their pack in training on the scrum machine or in a live scrummaging session to “squeeze”. Which means to tighten the binds, tighten/squeeze together closer as one unit. This squeeze needs to be maintained throughout the entire length of time the scrum is active. If you stop “squeezing” you loosen as a unit and give your opposition an advantage. The Welsh front row felt Ireland “loosing the squeeze” and immediately attacked.
  • As in all top-level sports, tiny incidents can make a massive difference. That slight loss of squeeze by Ireland’s scrum made a big difference in the game.
  • It was not the Ireland front rows fault. As with every scrum, scrummaging is an 8 man effort and a scrum will live and die by its 8 commitment to each and every confrontation. The scrum lost its squeeze as a whole. No, one individual is to blame.
  • This is not a major problem for Ireland. I was one bad scrum out of 100’s of good scrums during the past few years. It is and will be easily fixed. They just need to work on keeping tight during the scrums and not “loosing the squeeze” in training which they will do.
  • The same scrum problems come up at all levels of the game. “Loosing the squeeze” can happen at the lowest level of veterans rugby all the way up to top class international level.


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