You have to take it on the chin sometimes
The Bulls scrum may have lost the 'fear factor' it once held for opposing teams, but coach Frans Ludeke is confident they will not be shunted around this season.
Ludeke, speaking to this website ahead of their pre-season Super Rugby outing against Stormers, at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Saturday, said some of the law adjustments will also be of value.
"What is most pleasing - from a coaching, player and administrative point of view - is that good decisions were made that will improve the game," Ludeke said about the decision to simplify the communication from referees to the teams at scrum time.
Added to that, the Bulls mentor said, is the fact that the right areas were addressed when they looked at their own shortcomings.
"This included the scrum," he said, adding: "We required one or two adjustments, such as No.9 and his communication with the referee."
Ludeke said the scrums remain a huge contest, but the decisions made by the referees are getting to a stage where everybody has confidence in it and it makes it an easier facet of the game.
He admitted that all teams would have focussed on the scrums in the off-season.
"Mistakes will be punished with penalties and then you can lose valuable territory," the Bulls coach told this website.
"Last year in Super Rugby there were times we were under pressure [in the scrums], so it was definitely an aspect we focussed on.
"We need to ensure we are technically more accurate.
"Obviously brute strength will have an impact, but it is more important to be technically more accurate [in scrums].
"You have to focus on things like making sure the ball is put in on the ref's call, put in straight and ensure you work as a unit."
There were some critics who feel the Bulls' props are not up to standard, but Ludeke feels there is more to playing at prop than just scrumming.
"You have to take it on the chin sometimes," he told this website, when asked about the trouble experienced in 2013.
"There were games where the opposition got the better result [in the scrums], but we know what the challenges are and we have been working on those.
"We know some of our performances were not good enough, but that is what you work on in the pre-season - to ensure you can put your stamp on the game in those facets.
"We certainly back the players [in our squad], because we feel they have the allround game.
"The scrum is an important facet for us, and a major focus point, to ensure we create a solid platform."
By Jan de Koning