One bad day does not a winter make

Thu, 27 Jun 2013 18:18
Large werner kruger bulls scrum Large chiliboy ralepelle bulls sc Large dean greyling bulls scrum

The Bulls scrum may be seen as the team's soft underbelly, but the men from Pretoria are by no means weak in the set pieces.

The Bulls have been heavily penalised at scrum time in certain games, but the pace-setters in the South African Super Rugby conference are not nearly as bad as some pundits have suggested.

In fact, while the Bulls have run foul of referees in some matches, their props are not penalised nearly as often as those of other teams - especially in the scrums.

Bulls coach Frans Ludeke readily admits that his team has had some "bad days" at the office - such as their most recent outing, a 30-25 win over the Cheetahs just before the June break.

Prop Dean Greyling was penalised four times, as the Cheetahs dominated the scrums in the first half.

However, despite the perception that the Bulls transgress the most at scrum time, not one of their props are even in the top 10 of the most penalised front row forwards in Super Rugby.

Top of that dubious list of most penalised props is the Crusaders' All Black Wyatt Crockett, who has already conceded 27 penalties - more than half at scrum time.

He is followed by Greg Holmes (Reds - 23), Steven Kitshoff (Stormers - 20), Ben Franks (Hurricanes - 19), Ben Alexander (Brumbies - 18), Schalk Ferreira (Kings - 17), Laurie Weeks (Rebels - 15), Angus Ta'avao (Blues - 14), Ben Tameifuna (Chiefs - 14) and Coenraad Oosthuizen (Cheetahs - 14).

The Bulls - who face the Southern Kings in Pretoria on Saturday, when the Super Rugby season resumes after the June break - have worked hard on ensuring they are not on the receiving end of the referee's whistle again.

"We have great players, guys in every position who have succeeded at the highest level," Ludeke told this website, when asked about the perception that his team is a weak scrummaging unit.

"It is sometimes just a matter of concentration and that goes from No.1 to No.8," the Bulls mentor said, adding: "They must all be focussed and accurate in each and every scrum.

"That [concentration] has cost us at times.

"The referees have taken a much tougher stance when things are not working [at scrum time] and that is the right way to go, because we are getting a better shape in the game."

Ludeke said the Bulls have to make the adjustment when referees rule a specific way in a match.

"We are prepared to do that, we know where to make those changes," he told this website.

"Certainly it is just a concentration issue and one or two games where we did not have a good day at the office.

"We accept that those [performances] were simply not good enough."

The Bulls coach said he is confident that those bad days will not result in a bad season, where scrum penalties cost them a crucial game.

By Jan de Koning

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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 16 11 0 5 52
Brumbies 16 9 0 7 47
Rebels 16 7 0 9 36
Reds 16 4 0 12 22
Force 16 3 0 13 19
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Hurricanes 16 14 0 2 66
Highlanders 16 11 0 5 53
Chiefs 16 10 0 6 48
Crusaders 16 9 0 7 46
Blues 16 3 0 13 20
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 16 10 1 5 45
Lions 16 9 1 6 42
Bulls 16 7 0 9 38
Sharks 16 7 0 9 34
Cheetahs 16 5 0 11 26