29th April, 2016
“It’s not a matter of size or weight – it’s how you use what you’ve got.” Words of wisdom about the rugby scrum from the Wallabies “Scrum Doctor”, former Argentine international, Mario Ledesma. At the instigation of BURC Head Coach, Sean Hedger, Mario gave scrum clinics to the Colts and Seniors players. It was a wet and windy night but nobody seemed to mind. Our lads soaked up the wisdom of the big man who played 84 times as hooker for the Pumas, until the age of 38 at the 2011 Rugby World Cup.
“The Waratahs have the biggest pack in Super Rugby – but they don’t have the best scrum.” So it’s not about how big you are, according to Ledesma. “Technique and attitude are as important as size, and it’s an 8-man process, not just the front row.”
Watching him explaining “the dark arts” of scrummaging, it seems a lot simpler than people make out. First, you need to wear the right boots, with good, long tags. Second, you need to pack square – chest out, head neutral, back arched and hips below shoulders. Then all you need to do is bind correctly and all push together.
Mario had our boys doing one-on-one pushing and pulling exercises, all designed to strengthen the neck and core. Some of the back-rowers had never done this before, but seemed to enjoy the challenge. Knowing how successful Mario’s been with the Wallabies, the boys were soaking up every word. Visiting coaches were intrigued and one, Joe Faalago, videoed the whole clinic. Even our resident scrum guru, Al Manning, seemed mesmerized.
Mario loves what he does and helps out whenever he has time away from the Wallabies. At Bond he worked with Adrian Thompson and the Australian Under 20 forwards in the afternoon, then the Bond Rugby Club Colts and, finally, the Seniors, in the evening. In spite of the wretched weather, he maintained his enthusiasm and good humour.
With Brothers coming up next weekend, he couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s hope his lessons have been learnt and our scrum improves.
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