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Crouch, bind, set

Prop Adam Jones currently plays for Harlequins, has 95 caps for Wales and five for the Lions. We asked him to break down the role of each player in the modern scrum

The Hooker

The hookers are sometimes neglected a bit, but if you have a good hooker, the chances are you’ll have a decent scrum. A good hooker knows what angle to attack, how to transfer his weight on to the opposition front row. If the hooker can angle his body slightly towards the opposition tighthead, it makes it harder for the tighthead to assert dominance over the scrum.

Communication: The hooker’s generally the one who leads the scrum, but everyone is important. It’s not a massive chat, just do what you do in practice. It’s not a mothers’ union!

Loosehead Prop

The loosehead is the more destructive prop. He has more scope to attack and work different angles. They tend to be a bit lighter, but their height doesn’t matter.

Tighthead Prop

Tighthead is generally a bigger prop because he’s the stablising factor. If he goes backwards, then the rest of the scrum goes backwards.

The Second Row

It’s the job of the second row to transfer their weight to the front row and push the scrum forward. You can get great big ones, but it’s more about technique and body shape in the scrum; driving their shoulders against the props’ backsides. It’s not just head down and push. 


The flanker stop the arse of the scrum from falling out. They push inwards, and can help the props
to push in the right direction.

Number Eight 

The Number Eight steers the second row, and makes sure they are driving straight. He’ll be attached but he won’t push that hard.

Don't switch off: With new laws, every scrum is a massive contest. It used to be that whoever got the bigger shove would just win the scrum, but nowadays, you can’t really switch off. 

Scrum Half

Needs a good understanding with the hooker, and needs to feed the ball in a smart way, so the hooker doesn’t have to work too hard to hook the ball. They are the link between the forwards and the backs.


Preparing for the game

A busy week

On Monday, we analyse the last game, Tuesday we might do a heavy scrum session, and Thursday, we might do some scrums on the machine, then we talk on Friday about how we’re going to attack the oppo.

In the gym

It’s the basic stuff – deadlifts, squats, bench press, core. We do a few isometric holds, too. Then we use the weighted sled because it’s almost like a scrummaging position.

The rule changes

You used to really hit the scrum and have a big impact, which I was good at, and then in the course of a summer, it changed to a completely different technique. It’s different but the principles don’t change too much.

Video analysis

We do quite a bit of video work. I look for traits in opposition props, then talk with my other prop and hooker, and find out what they want to go after too. Then we work out where the weak points are. I find it quite interesting. 

Opposition weakness

We look at lots of things to try to find weaknesses in an opposition: scrum height, body angles, how far feet are forward, how far feet are back, hip angles, where they like to attack; dozens of things. If it’s something they do regularly, you target that.


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