drawings of muscles and exercise apparatus

Friday, January 02, 2009

Rugby scrum mechanics, technique and strength training: links to articles

[Summary: Here is a collection of links to articles, posts and web pages about rugby scrum technique and strength training. Arranged alphabetically by title, each of them conforms to the commons principle by being freely available for viewing without payment and by not being password-protected.]

"Andy Sheridan - an aberration or is prodigious strength the future of rugby?" Bruce Ross
"[Andy Sheridan's] example suggests that players with appropriate genetic endowment can achieve massive strength specific to the demands of their sport through the long term application of strength training techniques. However, in order to do so, these players currently have to almost defy the rugby world's orthodoxy in relation to strength and conditioning."
MyoQuip Blog

"Assessment of scrummaging performance" Stuart Mills and Paul Robinson
"with the new era of professional rugby and an increased scientific approach, rugby clubs should evaluate the validity of the physical tests they currently use and consider adopting rugby specific tests that measure scrummaging performance directly. This would increase confidence in the validity of the test data and result in the real weaknesses being addressed, thereby improving the preparation of players for competition."
Coaches' Infoservice

"The attacking scrum" Angus Baker
"the scrum, if applied correctly, becomes an essential attacking platform to the modern game and maximises attacking options."

"Body height in the rugby scrum: the value of equal hip and knee joint angles" Bruce Ross
"an optimal configuration of body position and limb alignment on engagement involves hip and knee angles each set at 90° with both trunk and shank being parallel to the ground. During the scrum, hip and knee joints should move synchronously so that their angles remain equal."

"Building the scrum" Graham Smith
"A dominant scrummage ... not only provides your team with excellent possession, but it is also a vehicle which can exhaust the opposition pack, and demotify and dispirit the opposition backs, for they will always be on the back foot, always under pressure."

"The guru and the scrum
"No foot in the scrum should move from its starting position. The way your feet are before you actually engage is the way they must stay so you do not get a destabilised scrum as players try to readjust their feet."

"Introducing the ScrumTruk rugby strength builder" Bruce Ross
"In exercising with ScrumTruk, the lower spine adopts moderate curvature necessary for effective pushing and avoidance of lower back strain. This
position also triggers isometric contraction of the stabilising muscles of the pelvic and abdominal regions."
MyoQuip Blog

"The mechanics of the scrum and implications for the role of the tight head prop, right lock and right flanker." David Docherty
"An important aspect of scrummaging is understanding the way in which the scrum will tend to move or wheel and how it can used to advantage or needs to be resisted."
Eastern Rockies Rugby Football Union

"Prop-specific strength training at the shove" Conrad Comer
"It cannot be over-stressed how important it is for players in such a vulnerable position to train through the full range of movement."

"Scrum mechanics, technique and problem solving - or, helping the 'girls' understand the 'dark arts.'" Mark Calverley
"In this article I am ... trying to apply mechanics to the scrum, but without using biomechanics jargon."

"Scrums - have we got it right?" Andrew Beattie
"about 8.3 minutes of a game of Rugby Union is devoted to scrums."

"Static neck stretches"
"simple exercises ... will develop the neck muscles and help against the chance of doing irreparable damage during a game or training."

"The scrum" Martin Hynes
"Squat weight-lifting principles are very important in scrummaging and a player's basic technique can be checked in weight training ... or simply by getting the player to hold a stick across his shoulders so that he can demonstrate his squat style/technique."

"The Scrum" Matt Ryan
"it is my belief that you should not be coaching Rugby Union unless you can coach a safe scrum collapse procedure. This is an extremely dangerous part of the game."
Singapore Rugby Union Technical Director

"Tight five
scrummaging - it's all about body shape
" Mark Bell
"This discussion paper will address the role of the tight five and identify how good body shape and correct scrummaging can significantly reduce the fatigue caused to players by scrummaging."

"Total impact method: a variation on engagement technique in the rugby scrum" Doug McClymont
"The principle of conservation of momentum ensures that the pack that is moving faster at impact will apply a greater force, and that pack will tend
to maintain its position rather than being moved back."
Coaches' Infoservice

I would be grateful for any suggestions of other articles that could be added to this list or for any comments on any of the articles.


Nursedude said...

Wow, Bruce, what a treasure trove. I really liked your article with the drawings and explanations-better than anything I have seen in the beginner books on rugby. Would have loved to have been able to read these BEFORE I started playing prop.

Bruce Ross said...

Thanks, ND. I still shake my head that the most logical treatment of the geometry and mechanics of the scrum was in Greenwood's book published 30 years ago.

As far as I can remember, yours is the first comment that I have ever received on the "equal joint' article. I honestly would not mind if someone chose to attack it but it has been totally ignored.

The scrum is the only activity in rugby, indeed the only activity in any of the football codes, that lends itself to this sort of analysis. Because of the failure to really examine the biomechanics we get statements such as that from Phil Vickery in his "Scrummaging Masterclass" to the effect that with straight legs "there is little forward momentum." No, Phil, with straight legs there can be no forward momentum at all unless you rely on plantar flexion, i.e., extending the ankle joint; and there are very few forwards able to do that.

Nursedude said...

The equal joint article really would have saved me a lot of frustration-and soreness, when I was first starting to play prop. Interestingly, when my Aussie born and raised head coach saw my beginner's frustation, he instructed me to use the swiss ball in doing thrusts/squats while my chest was centered on it-your one diagram mimics that movement. When I started using the swiss ball and imagining myself exploding on the command of engage for the scrum, it helped me out.

I bookmarked this entry to forward to any other front row players who are just learning the game, or would like to improve.