by Tom Billups, C.S.C.S.
Hi Coach Billups
I am a veteran player originally from Scotland. This past Spring I started a brand new U 19 club in the rural area where I live.
I handled all the coaching for the forwards and despite my vast experience playing in the back row and second row I was amazed at how many basic fundamental things which I had a tough time. One thing I wasn't able to help the players with was creating and implementing a scrum cadence to be used after engagement and to ensure a unified push. Knowing that they can only push a meter a cadence may not necessary, but I am confident had we had all eight pushing together life would have been easier for all.
Can you make some suggestions on a cadence and how to introduce this?
Thank you for your question, I appreciate the efforts you are making to further rugby by teaching the game we love to high school age athletes.
It is a common challenge for many who have played rugby the whole of their life, to now try and explain the game and how it is best played, in a logical, progressive way.
Specific to building a scrum cadence, I would suggest a quick review of the entire process of building a scrum for an age grade team;
Hit - Ready Ready Ready - NOW !
In attacking scrums, place more emphasis on the hooker binding with the loosehead prop first, then the tighthead. Once again, everyone is responsible for their own balance point. Our cadence in attack is straight forward; "Hit" on the "E" of engagement, but now as we lower our body profiles and generate pressure as a collective eight and call "squeeze", this is while scrumhalf is about to put the ball into the scrum. As the ball is about to be struck, we call "Now" and exert as much pressure on the opposition as possible as we strike for our own ball.
Hit - SQUEEZE - Now !
Lastly, I would encourage you to train your forwards that the cadence on it's own will not push so much as an ant. Many times a pack of forwards have a complex cadence that seems pretty impressive to watch and hear, but in fact, it is all sizzle and no steak. There must be a lot of effort that accompanies the cadence. I have played on teams where the players are calling "1-2-1-2" after the engagement and we are not going anywhere! The cadence should be the verbal confirmation of physical work being done, and the cadence allows for that effort to be made in unison with all eight forwards.
Best of Success,
Tom Billups began his rugby career in 1984 and has spent time as a player in New Zealand, the U.S. and England for domestic teams as well as representing the U.S.A. at international tournaments with the Eagles. After hanging up his boots, Billups got into coaching leading the Eagles and now with University of California – Berkeley. Read the entire bio of Tom Billups as well as Billups first column My Rugby Path and then check out what Billups is saying about the game of rugby in The Billups Column on Rugby Rugby.
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