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View Full Version : Why do we fail to produce versatile props



Kevin77
8th-August-2011, 00:47
Having watched plenty of Super 15this year and seeing the Aussies play Kepu at loosehead (after playing much of the provincial season at tight-head) and Alexander at tighthead (after playing much of the provincial season at loosehead) it got me thinking.





Why don't we attempt to give our props experience on both sides of the scrum? We are now left with a situation where Tom Court (an import, is this a coincidence) is the only viable alternative for the bench spot as a prop that can cover both sides of the scrum.


I understand that the positions require different technical and physical requirements however this does not explain why countries like Australia (who have been criticised heavily for their scrummaging prowess recently) and South Africa have plenty of of options that can play both sides of the scrum proficiently.


Hayes has played exclusively tight head for his career as Horan and Healy have played exclusively loose head.


Would it not have been wise for Kidney to have requested that younger props like Healy be tested in weaker Magners games on the opposite side of the scrum?


What are the technical limitations of doing this? Are we lacking the personnel? Or is it a result of the demands of the provinces? Or lack of technical coaching expertise?


I realise we have been struggling to produce propsthat can proficiently play one side of the scrumand perhaps we need to get this right before we start, however Australia have been in a very similar situation to us and now have a handful of props that can do both

the plastic paddy
8th-August-2011, 05:23
Have a look at the article on the scrummaging theorists thread with an interview with Kobus Visagie, very interesting. With 22 in the match day squads we could wind up in a situation like last saturday when we go in without ROG to accomodate two props on the bench with PW covering OH and 12 ( very badly). Doesn't really bear thinking about does it. No one seems to have the first idea what is happening with Wilkinson or, if he is crocked, whether Hagan, who can play both sides I believe, is available. At the moment we have 6 fit props in the squad 2 of whom can supposedly play both sides, Mushy and Court although I think it would be a case of they are equally poor on both sides rather than equally good. Apart from that we have 2 out of 4 closer to 35 and one closer to 40 than 35 and playing his last tournament. Not casting aspertions on Marcus, Ross or Bull but the cupboard is looking a little short of crockery and the management don't seem overly concerned judging by the complete lack of comment on Wilkinson.

Kevin77
8th-August-2011, 05:31
Have a look at the article on the scrummaging theorists thread with an interview with Kobus Visagie, very interesting. With 22 in the match day squads we could wind up in a situation like last saturday when we go in without ROG to accomodate two props on the bench with PW covering OH and 12 ( very badly). Doesn't really bear thinking about does it. No one seems to have the first idea what is happening with Wilkinson or, if he is crocked, whether Hagan, who can play both sides I believe, is available. At the moment we have 6 fit props in the squad 2 of whom can supposedly play both sides, Mushy and Court although I think it would be a case of they are equally poor on both sides rather than equally good. Apart from that we have 2 out of 4 closer to 35 and one closer to 40 than 35 and playing his last tournament. Not casting aspertions on Marcus, Ross or Bull but the cupboard is looking a little short of crockery and the management don't seem overly concerned judging by the complete lack of comment on Wilkinson.





I've read that thread. Very interesting stuff.


Some good points you have made there. I find the fact that players like Hagan and the young props at Ulster (McAlister for one) are not being asked to regularly train with the senior Ireland team a little strange. Barring injury Healy should be around for a while however Ross is 31. Where is the succession planning for tighthead? And further to that what about sub prop? Are we relying on IRB introducing 23 man panels for internationals?

the plastic paddy
8th-August-2011, 06:58
Agree with you Kevin 77; the most arduous and technical positions on the field requiring proper knowledge at scrum, line out and rolling maul apart from defensive systems. I would hope that you could add Archer to that list fairly soon as a young player who should be spending time around the set up. These things might have to wait until after WC but2 injuries and we will need to be taking another prop to NZ anyway. Wonder if any of the Leinster lads have a clue what is happening with Hagan as I would have thought he would be next in line if Wilkinson is properly crocked; Porterbelly might know what the prognosis is with Wilkinson. Agree about sub prop,nearly every other nation have plenty of options who can play both sides so can't see the turkeys voting for christmas myself and changing to 23 man squads. Could 22 man squads be part of the reason ourprovincial supremacy doesn't translate into similardomination in the international arena? The provinces have a much higher proportion of indiginous players than the opposition so logic would suggest the national team should be stronger as well. Can McCallister play both sides? Think he is a prospect anyway but would be handy if he could play both sides.

bugler
8th-August-2011, 07:01
Are we relying on IRB introducing 23 man panels for internationals?

Probably. That is most likely how it will end up, and it makes sense. I don't think we've had outrage over uncontested scrums in a while - soon as we do it may give it another nudge in this direction.

We don't have the scrummaging culture to make double siders common. The likes of Clohessy and Court moved over out of chance or necessity, and Court isn't great at either side currently. The more reknowned scrummaging nations are more likely to produce double siders (Italy, SA, Argentina, and lately NZ) as it is probably encouraged in the coaching set up.

To be honest, the only ones who can, and have, cover(ed) both positions with any success that come to my mind are:

Perugini; Castro; Matt Stevens; Afoa; Tialata (I think); Greg Somerville. I think Gethin Jenkins used to cover TH too - maybe hasn't in quite a while.

Probably doing some fine props a disservice here (and several Argies no doubt).

There are always plenty of rubbish double-siders. Julian Brugnaut, Alastair Dickinson, Gavin Kerr, Ronnie McCormack(!)

bugler
8th-August-2011, 07:21
Can't believe I forgot the French! Who of their current props covers across, though?

Marconnet?

HurlerOnDeDitch
8th-August-2011, 11:55
smileys/shock.gifI can't believe you forgot Le Puc!!!

Balla Boy
8th-August-2011, 12:01
I think it will be interesting to see what effect the changes in the engage have long term. I think it's possible that if the 6 foot 4 monsters have had their day, and the direction is back towards more technical, grappling props that we might see more who can cover both sides.


Over the lastfew years thay've been pretty different beasts really.

NotreDameRFC
8th-August-2011, 13:47
Scrummaging in the Super 15 is not a barometer to judge on.....


Scrums are still a far more important weapon in adark and wet dreary NH winter.

bugler
8th-August-2011, 14:27
smileys/shock.gifI can't believe you forgot Le Puc!!!

I didn't forget him at all - I was trying to keep it to current or very recent props. A fine example of the species he is.

Kevin77
8th-August-2011, 22:17
Scrummaging in the Super 15 is not a barometer to judge on.....


Scrums are still a far more important weapon in adark and wet dreary NH winter.








Whilst I would agree with this to a certain extent, the Super 15 is the competition that has produced the current Kiwi props (Franks bros, Woodcock, Crockett, Afoa etc). Australia also has Alexander, Kepu and Slipper who have demonstrated they can play both sides of the scrum proficiently. The Aussie props have also gone well in the Tri Nations playing on the opposite side of the scrum to where they occupied during the Super season. Then there are the South African props...not much needs to be said there

the plastic paddy
9th-August-2011, 05:48
I think it will be interesting to see what effect the changes in the engage have long term. I think it's possible that if the 6 foot 4 monsters have had their day, and the direction is back towards more technical, grappling props that we might see more who can cover both sides.


Over the lastfew years thay've been pretty different beasts really. What would you say is happening in AIL and junior rugby BB? Think we will be stuck with 22 man panels for the foreseeable future so we need to be finding these double sided props: Can any ofthe young Munster props play either side?

Point
9th-August-2011, 06:42
I think it will be interesting to see what effect the changes in the engage have long term. I think it's possible that if the 6 foot 4 monsters have had their day, and the direction is back towards more technical, grappling props that we might see more who can cover both sides.


Over the lastfew years thay've been pretty different beasts really.


What would you say is happening in AIL and junior rugby BB? Think we will be stuck with 22 man panels for the foreseeable future so we need to be finding these double sided props: Can any ofthe young Munster props play either side?


Don't expect much from the AIL. Most of the Div 1 coaches haven't a clue about Front row play and wouldn't recognise a prop if they bit them on the arse, especially in Munster. We're an awfully long way behind where scrummaging is at and where Munster's clubs should be in producing good young props. This isn't made easier because if you are a senior coach getting a few bob, are you going to take a chance on a 20 year old with potential, or a 31 year old who does enough and who the coach knows will do a job (though limited) for him ?

the plastic paddy
9th-August-2011, 06:49
I think it will be interesting to see what effect the changes in the engage have long term. I think it's possible that if the 6 foot 4 monsters have had their day, and the direction is back towards more technical, grappling props that we might see more who can cover both sides.


Over the lastfew years thay've been pretty different beasts really.


What would you say is happening in AIL and junior rugby BB? Think we will be stuck with 22 man panels for the foreseeable future so we need to be finding these double sided props: Can any ofthe young Munster props play either side?


Don't expect much from the AIL. Most of the Div 1 coaches haven't a clue about Front row play and wouldn't recognise a prop if they bit them on the arse, especially in Munster. We're an awfully long way behind where scrummaging is at and where Munster's clubs should be in producing good young props. This isn't made easier because if you are a senior coach getting a few bob, are you going to take a chance on a 20 year old with potential, or a 31 year old who does enough and who the coach knows will do a job (though limited) for him ? How is this situation going to be improved? As Borlase has shown, project players are not the answer. How can the nation of Fitzgerald, Orr, Popplewell, Claw etc be in this state where we could wind up taking a project prop to the RWC even though he is getting eviscerated in every game simply because he is the only available player who can play both sides?

nuke
9th-August-2011, 14:16
The problem is we are trying too hard to produce "versatile props"!

We need to get back to producing strong props, of the right propping physique, who dominate the opposition in their primary position and THEN get them on advanced athletic programs and THEN work on their positional versatility.

Too many clubs and academies are focusing on athletic players and saying "hmmmmm we could turn this fella into a prop" instead of improving the props already available.

If a guy wants to prop he should be going to his coach and saying it - "I want to prop, give me the skills and a chance and i'll take the pressure and the pain". If the coach has to go to the player at academy and sub academy level and say "you could make a decent prop" then it's too late as decent is all that player will ever be.

Point
9th-August-2011, 15:53
The problem is we are trying too hard to produce "versatile props"!

We need to get back to producing strong props, of the right propping physique, who dominate the opposition in their primary position and THEN get them on advanced athletic programs and THEN work on their positional versatility.

Too many clubs and academies are focusing on athletic players and saying "hmmmmm we could turn this fella into a prop" instead of improving the props already available.

If a guy wants to prop he should be going to his coach and saying it - "I want to prop, give me the skills and a chance and i'll take the pressure and the pain". If the coach has to go to the player at academy and sub academy level and say "you could make a decent prop" then it's too late as decent is all that player will ever be.



+1

Hugonaut
9th-August-2011, 17:25
The problem is we are trying too hard to produce "versatile props"!

We need to get back to producing strong props, of the right propping physique, who dominate the opposition in their primary position and THEN get them on advanced athletic programs and THEN work on their positional versatility.

Too many clubs and academies are focusing on athletic players and saying "hmmmmm we could turn this fella into a prop" instead of improving the props already available.

If a guy wants to prop he should be going to his coach and saying it - "I want to prop, give me the skills and a chance and i'll take the pressure and the pain". If the coach has to go to the player at academy and sub academy level and say "you could make a decent prop" then it's too late as decent is all that player will ever be.




Well said Nuke.

I'd also put forward the theory that idea of 'prop' being a single position is more and more outdated at pro level, mainly due to the switch to 23 man squads in all professional leagues across the world. The ITM Cup, the Currie Cup, the Pro 12, the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14 all have 23-man matchday squads, as do the HEC and Super XV.

With mandatory LHs and THs on the bench, the versatility that was previously required of say one in every two props being [at least in theory] capable of playing both sides is wiped out with the stroke of a pen.

The only level in the pro game that dual-sided props are now necessary is international level and to be honest I can't see that happening for much longer. It's an anomaly. Not that I think there's any particular need for the change, but it'll just bring it in line with the rest of the pro game.

I have a hunch that we will see fewer</span> guys playing both LH and TH in the future rather than more.

the plastic paddy
9th-August-2011, 17:52
Sure you are right hugonaut and actually in this day and age maybe we will see 23 man panels. Maybe this will be thelast WC of dual purpose props. Good for Ireland but some of me admires a man expert enough and brave enough to play in such different positions.

Combatlogo
9th-August-2011, 17:53
Fran Cotton, Jason Leonard and I'm pretty sure Ray McLoughlin
played both sides. Spot on Nuke BTW.

the plastic paddy
9th-August-2011, 18:30
Fran Cotton, Jason Leonard and I'm pretty sure Ray McLoughlin
played both sides. Spot on Nuke BTW. Random list Combat, is that a tenuous response to my query about Leinster producing their own tight heads? Quite correct about Nukes post however, sums it up very well!

9th-August-2011, 18:50
Have a look at the article on
the scrummaging theorists thread with an interview with
Kobus Visagie, very interesting. With 22 in the match day
squads we could wind up in a situation like last saturday
when we go in without ROG to accomodate two props on
the bench with PW covering OH and 12 ( very badly).
Doesn't really bear thinking about* does it. No one seems
to have the first idea what is happening with Wilkinson or, if
he is crocked, whether Hagan, who can play both sides I
believe, is available. At the moment we have 6 fit props in
the squad 2 of whom can supposedly play both sides,
Mushy and Court although I think it would be a case of they
are equally poor on both sides rather than equally good.
Apart from that we have 2 out of 4 closer to 35 and one
closer to 40 than 35 and playing his last tournament. Not
casting aspertions on Marcus, Ross or Bull but the cupboard
is looking a little short of crockery and the management
don't seem overly concerned judging by the complete lack
of comment on Wilkinson.

to be honest you're flattering Buckley to say he's equally
poor, he's abysmal at LH, simply not a realistic option there
at this level.

9th-August-2011, 18:53
The problem is we are trying too hard to
produce "versatile props"!We need to get back to producing
strong props, of the right propping physique, who dominate
the opposition in their primary position and THEN get them
on advanced athletic programs and THEN work on their
positional versatility.Too many clubs and academies are
focusing on athletic players and saying "hmmmmm we
could turn this fella into a prop" instead of improving the
props already available.If a guy wants to prop he should be
going to his coach and saying it - "I want to prop, give me
the skills and a chance and i'll take the pressure and the
pain". If the coach has to go to the player at academy and
sub academy level and say "you could make a decent
prop" then it's too late as decent is all that player will ever
be.



I think there's also the issue that too often someone, like
Buckley or Hayes, has a lot going for them as a general
rugby player or a lot of potential but is too short or too
unathletic to carry on at lock to higher level, isn't dynamic
enough for back row so someone goes I know, prop. Even
though they're not that suited to it physically.

Kevin77
10th-August-2011, 06:21
The problem is we are trying too hard to produce "versatile props"!

We need to get back to producing strong props, of the right propping physique, who dominate the opposition in their primary position and THEN get them on advanced athletic programs and THEN work on their positional versatility.

Too many clubs and academies are focusing on athletic players and saying "hmmmmm we could turn this fella into a prop" instead of improving the props already available.

If a guy wants to prop he should be going to his coach and saying it - "I want to prop, give me the skills and a chance and i'll take the pressure and the pain". If the coach has to go to the player at academy and sub academy level and say "you could make a decent prop" then it's too late as decent is all that player will ever be.






Understand what you are saying...I was referring more to their ability to play both sides of the scrum when talking about versatility. Not so much them being able to tackle, lift in line-out, ball carrying or other more athletic duties of being a prop

Hugonaut
10th-August-2011, 06:36
The other thing I would put forward is that the stresses on props these days are far greater in scrummaging - huge bodies, waaaaaaay more power and most importantly the hit at engagement. I saw the 1993 5 Nations game between England and Ireland recently enough and at scrum-time you can see the props establish their bind in a half-squat position before the engagement. The hit is far less concussive.

Another small [but still quite important] point is that modern jerseys are both made of non-grip fabric and way, way tighter. It used to be far easier to take a bind on a handful of jersey than it is now. Nowadays your hand can slip off on engagement entirely accidentally, be on the ground for a second and you can get pinged for that.

Heard Stephen Hilditch's take on it second hand, and it makes sense to me: binding straps on the lat/underarm of a props' jersey [at pro level, anyway]. Just a hardwearing grab-handle of fabric it doesn't even have to be a loop to let your fingers go into it, maybe just enough to get a good hold of would help props with their bind and prevent some resets. Second rows/backrows wear similar things on their quads for lifting, so I think a precedent is there.

the plastic paddy
10th-August-2011, 06:39
I hope there are some important people high up in the IRFU discussing this as it is going to undermine Irish rugby; SOB can be the best carrier in the world but if he can't get hold of the Ball it ain't a lot of use.

nuke
11th-August-2011, 07:26
The problem is we are trying too hard to produce "versatile props"!

We need to get back to producing strong props, of the right propping physique, who dominate the opposition in their primary position and THEN get them on advanced athletic programs and THEN work on their positional versatility.

Too many clubs and academies are focusing on athletic players and saying "hmmmmm we could turn this fella into a prop" instead of improving the props already available.

If a guy wants to prop he should be going to his coach and saying it - "I want to prop, give me the skills and a chance and i'll take the pressure and the pain". If the coach has to go to the player at academy and sub academy level and say "you could make a decent prop" then it's too late as decent is all that player will ever be.






Understand what you are saying...I was referring more to their ability to play both sides of the scrum when talking about versatility. Not so much them being able to tackle, lift in line-out, ball carrying or other more athletic duties of being a prop

I realise that is what you are talking about and that is why I mentioned primary position and positional versatility.

Saying that a LH should be able to play TH and vice sersa to me is akin to saying that an OH should be interchangeable with a SH and vice versa because they are both "half backs" - there are several who can do this at club level, a few at HEC level and less than a handful at international.

LH and TH are very, very different positions in terms of technique and mindset with loosehead being the more difficult technically(IMHO). Our current struggles at tighthead are, I believe, a direct result of targetting players and trying to make them props rather then improving the props we have from a young age.

Foot position, hip height and angle, shoulder height and angle, leverage, binding, wheeling, dipping, dropping. How many of these things are being coached to props(not to mention the rest of forwards) of 15/16/17/18 ??

That is where the battle will be won and lost.

Of course, being a prop(former prop according to some smileys/wink.gif ) I will admit my bias towards believing that it is the greatest position on the team and my hero's are not centre's or wingers.

Two of my fondest memories are of former Leinster props. Dessie Fitzgerald bought me my first pint(aged 14) and I will never forget walking off a pitch after an AIL match and having Phil Orr come up to shake my hand and say "Well played".

Having said that about the Leinster props only a former Munster prop, Clohessy, has managed to get me laid as a result of knowing him....now that's VERSATILITY smileys/razz.gif

Quailman
12th-August-2011, 07:11
Scrummaging in the Super 15 is not a barometer to
judge on.....


Scrums are still a far more important weapon in adark
and wet dreary NH winter.





*


Whilst I would agree with this to a certain extent, the
Super 15 is the competition that has produced the current
Kiwi props (Franks bros, Woodcock, Crockett, Afoa etc).*
Australia also has Alexander, Kepu and Slipper who have
demonstrated they can play both sides of the scrum
proficiently.* The Aussie props have also gone well in the
Tri Nations playing on the opposite side of the scrum to
where they occupied during the Super season.* Then there
are the South African props...not much needs to be said
there

There are some excellent props playing Super rugby, but
by enlarge the scrum isn't that much of a contest in the
competition.

Occasionally a side with an advantage will try and batter an
opponent in a big game, but generally they treat it as a
league style restart.

99_oK?
12th-August-2011, 10:31
The problem is we are trying too hard to
produce "versatile props"!We need to get back to producing
strong props, of the right propping physique, who dominate
the opposition in their primary position and THEN get them
on advanced athletic programs and THEN work on their
positional versatility.Too many clubs and academies are
focusing on athletic players and saying "hmmmmm we
could turn this fella into a prop" instead of improving the
props already available.If a guy wants to prop he should be
going to his coach and saying it - "I want to prop, give me
the skills and a chance and i'll take the pressure and the
pain". If the coach has to go to the player at academy and
sub academy level and say "you could make a decent
prop" then it's too late as decent is all that player will ever
be.



Well said.

And I'd add another bit to the 'versatility' bit.
In schools (& underage) it can be a bit of a disadvantage to
have good props. Watched a few schools matches over the
past 2 seasons where good props were costing the team!
Solid scrum and take a step forward to claim the ball, ref
blows 'em. As far as technique, power, etc - perfect. But
ref decides 'twas too far - spoke to one of the oppo
coaches after and he said they left their props at home and
played 2 flankers at 1 & 3 because they knew the form of
the ref, and anyway the rulebook at underage/school in
this country penalises anyone with too strong a scrum. So
they had a rubbish scrum, but it was an advantage!
That team won the competition. Says it all.