Mike Cron: Inside the ‘scrum doctor’ joining Joe Schmidt’s Wallabies coaching staff

Tue, Apr 2, 2024, 2:57 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Mike Cron, who was the All Blacks forwards coach from 2004 to 2019, spent last week working with the Western Force, offering his insights to players and coaches.

He's the assistant that Sir Graham Henry called 'the most knowledgeable scrum coach in World Rugby' and now Mike Cron will turn his focus towards the Wallabies.

Cron was the latest addition to Joe Schmidt's coaching staff, announced on Tuesday after the appointment of Laurie Fisher.

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The signings of the experienced pair are a stark contrast to Eddie Jones, who opted to bring in individuals from the wider sporting landscape.

Whilst his particular area of focus was not confirmed in the release, his pedigree leads him towards being focused around the set-piece and the forwards, especially the scrum where he his widely referred to as the 'scrum doctor'.

"There’s two most important things for scrummaging. All you’re trying to do is get eight people to work in the same direction at the same time, and you’re trying to get eight people to have the ability to stay strong with movement," he said on the Rugby Bricks podcast

"It’s that movement part that a lot of coaches don’t know how to coach up. The right kind of scrum… a lot of stuff we do, there’s movement, and there’s adjusting, and so I do a lot of drills with movement. I do a lot of drills with your eyes shut, so you have to feel everything around you, and that gets you to react a lot quicker."

Cron spent 200 Test matches in the All Blacks system between 2004-2019, including the 2011 and 2015 World Cups.

He served as scrum coach for the first seven years before taking on a wider role including lineouts, mauls, breakdowns and kick offs. Cron then helped the Black Ferns in 2022 to the World Cup title.

Mike Cron with now Wallabies boss Joe Schmidt and Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images
Mike Cron with now Wallabies boss Joe Schmidt and Ian Foster. Photo: Getty Images

His impact can be seen in the plethora of testimonials from All Blacks legends such as Henry and Richie McCaw.

"Crono was an exceptional coach, probably the most knowledgeable Scrum Coach in world rugby," Henry remarked. "But he was never satisfied and was constantly looking for new coaching methods and ideas to enhance his players, he was very innovative...I can’t speak highly enough of Mike Cron both as a person and a coach."

"Mike's ability to connect with all his players is outstanding and because of this, he understands the best ways to help players improve their skills. He is also extremely innovative in trying different things at training to solve the problems players might experience during games," McCaw added.

Since 2021, Cron has been employed by World Rugby as a set-piece consultant, including at the 2023 World Cup.

“For the World Cup I went there a week before it started and was based alongside the refs in Paris,” Cron said to the Irish Examiner in November.

“I sat in a room with the ref bosses, analysing all the decisions. I was the only coach in the room, so we could have a discussion from the coach’s view on a lineout, ruck or tackle.

"I actually stayed with the refs in the hotel, so we could go for a cup of coffee and a chat. I think we made real progress.” 

The Cron connection is already well established in Australia, with nephew Simon the head coach at the Western Force.

Mike spent time in the west at the start of the year, lending his expertise during pre-season.

“Simon got me over for the week just to observe the coaches, how they were coaching and sit in on the meetings. If I can offer any assistance I will,” he said in January.

“I’ve done a couple of coaching sessions on grass with the boys and (I’m) here just an outsider looking in and if I can help, then great.

“I’ve been talking to the forwards individual just about their breakdown and lineout primers, doing some scrum work with them. Working with them about being a high-performance athlete.”

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