The return of the Bajada
The return of the BajadaSHARE
In years gone by Argentina were scary when it came to scrum time.
That this generation of Los Pumas front row forwards heading into the inaugural Rugby Championship speaks of the need to rediscover the old strength and respect in the scrum is a clear indication they are admitting their scrum in the past few years has not been the feared weapon it once was.
"For us the scrum is very important," Pumas coach Santiago Phelan said.
"We have to keep on working hard on that aspect of our game … we can't say we are the best.
"We are still working hard to try and improve our scrum a lot.
"It is nice that other coaches think Argentina has a strong scrum, but in reality we know we still need to improve that aspect of our game and we are working very hard for that to be the best part of the Argentinian team."
So what is the famous Bajada (Puma scrum)?
The most obvious characteristic of the Bajada is that second row forwards bind with their external arms around the prop's hip rather than between their legs.
But one defining characteristic of the method is that all the power is directed into the hooker, in other words they scrum along an imaginary arrow drawn pointing inwards from either side of the No.8, which means all the power is directed towards the hooker.
The other defining characteristic is the 'empuje coordinado' or 'coordinated push'.
The scrumhalf gives a three part call after the 'engage'. On 'pressure' all members of the pack tighten their binds and fill their lungs with air. On the call 'one' everyone sinks; the legs at this point should be at 90 degrees. On 'two' the pack comes straight forward while violently expelling the air from their lungs. A key note is that nobody moves their feet until forward momentum is established. If the first drive is insufficient the scrumhalf begins the call again and the opposing pack is usually caught off guard and pushed back.