Changing perceptions of Aussie scrums

Date published: July 21 2015

Scrum guru Mario Ledesma believes the Wallabies are on the right track in changing preconceived ideas about Australian weakness at scrum time. 

The former Pumas hooker, who played 84 Tests for Argentina, has been working with the Wallabies as a set-piece expert in a similar role he filled with the Waratahs during the Super Rugby season.

In recent years the Wallabies have gained a reputation for being soft targets at scrum time, but Ledesma insists that the Wallabies set piece can no longer be considered their Achilles heel.

There is no greater scrum test than facing Argentina on home soil, and ahead of this weekend's clash in Mendoza, Ledesma hopes Australia will be able stand their ground having made a strong comeback against South Africa last weekend.

"What we are trying to do here, and I think we did it really well during the Super Rugby, is change that perception everyone has of the Australian team," Ledesma, who represented Argentina at four World Cups, told AFP.

"If you look at most of the Australian teams throughout the (Super Rugby) competition, they were dominating in the scrums, especially the Reds.

"I thought we had a really good run with the Waratahs too and I thought the Brumbies did really good.

"It's just showing everybody that we're there to scrum, and we want to contest.

"We want to dominate over there and we want the least amount of penalties possible and get the ref out of the picture."

Both of Argentina's tries against the All Blacks last week – scored by skipper Agustín Creevy – came via driving mauls from close-range lineouts and Ledesma expects his countrymen to use the same tactics against Australia this weekend.  

"That's the DNA of the Argentinean team and I think they won't be going away from that and they shouldn't," said Ledesma.

"But we will prepare for that and we're really excited about those kind of battles."

Ledesma admitted that the Wallabies were under the cosh at scrum time in the early stages of their Rugby Championship opener against the Boks but highlighted the turnaround in the second half. 

"We didn't start really well, mainly because we weren't respecting what we planned during the week," explained Ledesma.

"But when we started getting it right in the second half especially the last couple of scrums, we put them under pressure and had good outcomes."

"I thought they (the Argentinean scrum) were quite good (against New Zealand), especially in the first half," he added.

"But then when the subs came in there was a big difference. I think they don't have the same squad (front-row depth) as we do, like we did against the South Africans."