Wallabies ready to earn scrum success against England

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

England have been dishing out the praise to the Australian scrum this week but prop Scott Sio knows better than to think reputation means anything after kick-off.

This week, England scrum coach Neal Hatley said the Wallabies were a "different beast" with their scrum than in the past and prop Joe Marler said the reputation of any weakness in the Australian pack was long gone.

One of the key moments in the Wallabies’ run to the 2015 Rugby World Cup final was a dominant scrum performance against England in the pool stages.

That match was a marker that Australia had arrived as an up front force, transformed by them scrum coach Mario Ledesma.

It’s a path they’ve generally stayed on since, with some notable exceptions, but Sio said it didn’t take long to go from scrum heroes to zeros, regardless of reputations.

The Wallabies won the forward battle in their 2015 World Cup match against England. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleyIt's such a humbling part of the game where you can be on top one scrum and the very next scrum you can be penalised and be shoved back five metres,” he said.

“I think it's really about just backing the process, trusting in our principles there as a team. It's obviously been broken down but every team's going to have a different style of how they approach it as well. 

“It's just trusting in each other, we understand scrummaging is as an eight, it's not just the guys up front although we do cop a lot of the wrap for it, we understand as a group if we're all firing together, that's what I believe makes a successful scrum.

“It's a day by day, scrum by scrum."

The solution to that roller coaster? Always be ready, Sio said.

“If we have to scrum every minute of the 80 minutes, we're ready to do that as well,” he said.

“It's just being prepared for any situation that comes in there but once you know the ball's knocked on it's ready to go, it's about connecting, getting the right messages to the forward pack and then providing a solid base there for our backs.”

The Wallabies have kept things relatively consistent in their front row with Scott Sio and James Slipper sharing the loosehead responsibilities and Brumbies teammate Allan Alaalatoa the regular tighthead starter.

Both Sio and Alaalatoa have been rested at times during the World Cup, opening the door for Sekope Kepu to switch sides or start, but overwhelmingly the ACT trio have been the scrum anchors.

The Wallabies' front row unit are all close. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleySio said that consistency of selection, and the ability of the whole group to play together on a regular basis with a number of national camps in the past year, was clearly paying off.

“We went through last year, we had to meddle around with a few different combinations but just having that time spent together in numerous matches consistently is probably what's been the difference for us and it's been great for us in this tournament style of footy as well,” he said.

“I think it definitely helps (playing together in Super Rugby), you get to know each other pretty well but we've had guys like Tolu and Keps, a lot of these guys, Jordy as well, the last two years, who've been in and around the system,” he said.

“Having these camps and having put the rugby championship together as well has put us in good stead but as we always say, another  week is another week to grow and get better.”

The Wallabies will travel to Oita on Wednesday afternoon ahead of Saturday’s quarter-final clash with England and will name their team for the match on Thursday.

Australia takes on England on Saturday October 19 at Oita Stadium, kicking off at 4:15pm local, 6:15pm AEDT, LIVE on Foxtel, Network Ten and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO, Rugby Xplorer and Amazon Alexa.