Ireland accused of scrummaging dark arts as Bongi Mbonambi calls for a ‘fair contest’

Jared Wright
Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi and the Ireland scrum.

Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi has weighed in on the Ireland scrum tricks.

Springboks hooker Bongi Mbonambi says that Ireland had a lot of” ‘tricks” at scrum-time during the first Test between the two sides at Loftus and has called for a “fair contest” in Durban.

Heading into the opening Test match between the two sides, many predicted that the Boks would have the upper hand in the set-pieces, particularly after the Bulls’ demolition job of the Leinster pack in the URC semi-finals.

However, that was not the case for much of the match as Ireland managed to not only get parity but for most of the game dominate.

This was particularly true in the first half with the front row of Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan and Tadhg Furlong putting Ox Nche, Mbonambi and Frans Malherbe under the cosh in the set piece.

Ireland’s tricks

However, Bok hooker Mbonambi claims that Ireland’s dark arts in the set-piece did not create a fair contest, saying a much in a press conference following Rassie Erasmus’ team announcement for the second match.

“We had quite a good chat yesterday with Daan [Human] and the whole pack and in the first half we got frustrated because Ireland looked to play a lot of tricks at scrum-time,” the 33-year-old said in a move to highlight his aggrievances to the match officials.

“Where we just want a fair competition. We want a fair contest in the scrum, and it’s somewhere where we definitely have trained this week and learned our lessons from last week.”

While the Springboks battled to stamp their mark at scrum-time in the first half, the renowned ‘Bomb Squad’ came to the rescue once again as the replacements front rowers Gerhard Steenekamp, Malcolm Marx and Vincent Koch wrestled back dominance culminating in a penalty try that all but sealed the win.

“The Bomb Squad did an amazing job coming on and that penalty try was very satisfying for everyone,” Mbonambi added.

“But there is a lot of improvement to made from us when scrummaging against them.”

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Ireland’s injuries

While Erasmus was able to name an unchanged matchday 23 – a rare occurrence for the Boks, who have only done so twice since 2018 -Ireland have lost Craig Casey, Robbie Henshaw, and Sheehan for the second match, and there is also doubt over Andrew Porter’s fitness.

Sheehan is widely regarded as one of the finest hookers in the game, and while his absence is undoubtedly a blow for Ireland, Mbonambi believes that his replacement, Ronan Kelleher, is a more than capable filler.

“Injuries are part of the game; it happens,” he said.

“The other hooker, Kelleher, is quite a good scrummager. He is more physical, so it’s definitely not going to be easier.

“They do have top-class front rowers, and just one injury in the pack doesn’t really make a difference, so we are expecting a very hard challenge in the scrums.

“We will prepare ourselves, and hopefully, this coming week, we will get more rewards.”

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