Tadhg Furlong Gives A Hugely Insightful Scrummaging Masterclass
Tadhg Furlong’s rise to the top has been nothing short of incredible. In the space of 12 months the Wexford native has gone from squad man, to one of the world’s very best props.
Furlong has done for the tighthead position what Dane Coles has done for hookers. Not only can Furlong scrummage with the very best, he can also carry, throw a 10 metre pass and defend as if he had a seven on his back.
In terms of his scrummaging, he probably leads the way in world rugby right, and gave the media an masterclass on the subject yesterday. Furlong explained what he looks for and how he prepares himself in a fascinating insight.
“I suppose everyone is different in a way. What I like to do is have a look at the opposition scrum, I suppose get my head around what’s coming. But then, a lot of the time in the scrum we have to focus on ourselves as well – like, our setup, how we connect with our second rows, how the hooker and the loosehead are working with you.
“A lot of that is in your control, and it doesn’t change much week to week.
You look at their scrum, and you see maybe where they’re trying to bring the force or angle, or where they like to attack – to go forward. And then you put emphasis on specific joint shoulders within the [your own] scrum.
“Also, with your bind, you’d be looking at the loosehead: some looseheads lift up, some loosheads lean forward. It all changes on where you bind, and how you can – I suppose – get yourself in the scrum the way you’d like to.
“But it’s all in theory. I suppose you learn as you go, so you look at it in theory: ‘this should work. In the past, this is what worked.’ And then it’s putting it out on the field and trying to execute it is the tough part.
“I enjoy looking at scrums – what other teams are doing; how other second rows and back fives are scrummaging; what works well, what doesn’t work well; what can we rob off them?
“It’s all about trying to execute it at the weekend, then.”
Furlong says a lot of the time it comes down to short-term memory and living in the moment and feeling your opponent out.
“When you’re looking at a scrum, you see what’s happening,” Furlong said.
“But when you’re in there, you can’t look from the outside – d’you know what I mean?
It’s all about your feeling, there: you remember the feeling you had in the [last] scrum, where the pressure was coming from, and what you did to counteract it.
“It’s one thing looking at it, it’s another thing to feel it, and trying to problem-solve with the feeling when you can’t look at the tape to see what you look like, if you know what I mean.”
Furlong also say it’s difficult to changes this up and try and fool your opposition as the smallest change can effect the entire scrum.
“I wouldn’t say it’s all that easy to do, to be honest with you, because it’s so repetitive.
“If I change something in my setup – just say I change where one of my legs stand, or if I’m pulling one way or the other – it has a knock-on effect between the second row behind me and my hooker and loosehead on the far side of me.
“So, in theory it might sound a clever thing to do, but I suppose you’re after doing so many reps doing it one way, the smallest change can have an effect on everyone around you.
“It’s those little bits that just throw you off is what, at this level of scrummaging, skews execution for you.”