Friday, August 2, 2013

Argentina is confident of a new powerful bajada scrum

Marcos Ayerza
Argentina´s scrum has come to be questioned in recent times due to it lacking the edge that made it so potent previously. The reason for the decline of the weapon is the ever changing scrum engagement laws which went from being oriented on technique to changing to include a hit. With the introduction of the hit Argentina´s Bajada lost its earlier power. This has seen Argentine scrums fail to put the opposition under comparable pressure as was the case in the past. Indeed, even though Marcos Ayerza and Juan Figallo are amongst the best scrumaging props playing professional rugby in Europe the tremors that were previously felt by the opposition towards the Pumas scrum has vanished. 

But while the law changes may well have de-powered the bajada the new laws have not, actually, accomplished what they ought to have. The scrum remains dangerous and in need of quality refereeing to ensure player welfare. The latest change from crouch-touch-set to crouch-bind-set sees the frontrows bound together on both sides of the scrum by holding rather than touching prior to the engagement. It is precisely this which has a number of people in Argentina looking towards a return to the much feared scrum as it should, according to Ayerza, significantly reduce the chances of a scrum collapsing and make for longer playing careers.

There is both confidence and speculation that there will be a return of the bajada for the 2013 Rugby Chamíonship. The theme was covered in this weeks edition of Total Rugby. In a five minute video current and former Pumas props outlined the changes of the scrum and how it has impacted Argentine rugby at test level. Pumas legend Mauricio Reggiardo suggests the bajada is likely to return with Argentina´s scrum returning to its previous heights. A reduction in the importance of the hit means the scrum will be slower which suits Argentina.


  1. Perhaps it is as simple as the calibre of player has declined?

    I don't recall a scrum Roncero, Ledesma, Scelzo in the front line ever getting a hammering under any rules.

    In fact as recently as the 2011 RWC, Juan Figallo did well in this area in a tough scrummaging pool and was named as "player of pool B".

    It's after Roncero and Scelzo became over the hill in about 2009/10 when the scrum started losing it's strength, but it still always got at least parity with those two there even when they were a couple years past their peak. The first choice props were not destroyed in the RC or November last year either, even if they were a mile off vintage Pumas scrummaging.

    What's alarming now is the lack of depth as shown against England. In 2003 Pumas had a squad full of props all world class. Now the back up to the starters looks bare.

    However since the first choice front row are fit for the RC, I don't see the England matches repeating themselves. The fact Albacete comes in behind them instead of the converted back rowers and lightweight locks will also make a difference.

  2. Good call BEH. You forgot to mention the likes of Hassan and Mendez. They never went backwards!

    Worst still, most English rugby followers would agree that our scrum has gone bad too, and we wiped the floor with them during the recent June tests!

    But there is plenty of light at the end of the tunnel. Lobo looked better than average, during his stint at Montpellier. This year'S JRWC tight five looked impressive indeed.
    They all but kept them in the game against the Welsh.

    Against top class opposition. ARG might have to wait a decade before they can safely tick all the boxes regarding all-round
    play, but I'm not ruling out 2019 as the second coming!

  3. It is a combination of factors. Before the advent of the hit there was more focus on technique and Argentina was better prepared due to the bajadita enabling the forwards to together pressure the opposition frontrow. But with law changes came altered techniques which de-powered Argentina´s scrum.

    The 2003 scrum was very good - Roncero and Scelzo unused against Australia and Ireland. In 2011 Scelzo was dropped in no small part due to his scrumaging. Figallo was younger but also better. Scelzo had been taken to school against France in the 2007 RWC by Olivier Milloud due to the Frenchman getting a better hit on him. Argentina need a slower engagement which is why the changed laws appear likely to see a return of the bajada.