Scrum cap XV: A remarkably good team of players who wore headgear
The scrum cap has long been a part of rugby intended to protect player’s ears and heads from the rigours of the game.
Whilst the initial idea was for forwards to guard against cauliflower ears caused by the rubbing at scrum time, over the years, players of all positions have worn the protective headgear.
Planet Rugby has put together a remarkably good team of past and present players who have shone whilst wearing a scrum cap at the highest level.
Planet Rugby’s scrum cap XV
15 Kurt-Lee Arendse (South Africa): A difficult selection to make, given that the likes of Leigh Halfpenny and Gio Aplon both wore headgear. However, it was impossible to ignore the red-hot Springbok who burst onto the Test scene in 2022. Arendse starts in a venomous back three that could make mincemeat of just about any defensive structure.
14 Cheslin Kolbe (South Africa): The hot-stepping superstar’s on-field persona is typified by a scrum cap, so much so that earlier this season, social media blew up when the Springbok went one game for Toulon without headgear. The first name on the team sheet wherever he plays, the same applies to our XV. Would step a defender in a phone booth.
13 Jonathan Davies (Wales): Wales and British & Irish Lions legend. Davies was a clear and obvious choice for our outside centre. He has been performing for years with over 100 Test caps to his name. Excellent on both sides of the ball, a leader and an outstanding player.
12 Matt Giteau (Australia): A legend of the game and a scrum cap veteran. His versatility is always useful, and lining up with Davies in the midfield would make for one brilliant centre pairing. Also a Test veteran and serial winner, particularly at club level, with three Champions Cups to his name for Toulon.
11 Gabin Villere (France): The French pocket rocket completes a back-three more dangerous than hammering dynamite. Extra chemistry as Kolbe’s teammate at Toulon is a bonus, not that the 26-year-old needs any help finding the try-line.
10 Stephen Larkham (Australia): The perfect general for the side. Larkham probably wishes George Gregan wore a scrum cap. Nevertheless, he was mercurial at his worst and outrageous at his best. One of the all-time great fly-halves and one of the most suited to unlock the terror outside of him. Doubles up as player-coach for our XV.
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9 Gela Aprasidze (Georgia): The only Georgian in the side and one of the few scrum-halves in the game to wear headgear. Great experience for a 24-year-old and a star for the national side. Would make a brilliant partnership with the legendary Larkham in the half-backs.
8 Gregory Alldritt (France): One of the world’s most in-form stars. The Frenchman has been outstanding in 2022 and almost looks to get better every game. A no-brainer selection and will add tremendously to the link between 8-9-10. The La Rochelle man would be one of the game-drivers for the side. Zach Mercer was a decent shout for number eight but lost out to the Grand Slam winner.
7 Josh van der Flier (Ireland): One of the most loaded positions in terms of scrum cap options, with the likes of David Pocock and Henrich Brussow worthy mentions. However, it would be ludicrous to overlook the 2022 World Rugby Player of the Year. The Irishman’s pedigree speaks for itself, and he forms a key part of a formidable back-row.
6 Justin Tipuric (Wales): Another classy performer to round out a back-row tougher than a maths exam without a calculator. The Welshman has been class at Test level for an extended period of time and perfectly complements the other two stars in the loose trio. A candidate to lead the team but just tripped up short of the mark.
5 Victor Matfield (South Africa): The godfather of the line-out leads the side. Some say he slept with headgear on. A true legend of the game and the most capped Springboks star. Said to be retired but probably travels with a pair of boots in his bakkie in case he gets a call from Rassie Erasmus.
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4 Maro Itoje (England): Fearless, passionate and brilliant. Itoje needs little introduction but will probably not be pleased being paired with a South African. A memorable player in rugby union, right up there with one of the best. The second-row pair would be outrageous at line-out time.
3 Zander Fagerson (Scotland): The Scot packs down at tighthead, leading a surprisingly small group of players in the position who wear headgear. A solid scrummager and a good work rate around the park. He is the only representative of his country in our XV but adds tremendously to the front-row.
2 Rory Best (Ireland): Veteran personified. The Test centurion was some player and was an easy choice at hooker for the scrum cap side. As tough as nails and a proper character in the front-row. The Irishman is a vintage scrum cap star and beat New Zealander Andrew Hore to the starting position.
1 Bevan Rodd (England): One of the younger stars in the XV balancing the average age statistic. Rodd was recently capped by England and has a promising future. The Sale Sharks man rounds out the front-row ahead of the likes of Pek Cowan and Matt Dunning, who were in with a shout at loosehead.
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