Scrummage: Julian White and Rugby Stars Explain the Game – The Prop

“Scrummage” is the end product of a blend of a final-year journalism portfolio and a will to help new rugby fans understand the positions of the game. Having played as a tighthead prop for my University’s first team, it was great how much people wanted to talk to rugby players. And yet, when I attempted to explain what it was a prop did you could see the look of confusion slide across their face.

So what I did was create a series of videos containing some of the biggest names in world rugby to help describe and explain the various positions of Rugby Union. Each episode covers aspects such as training, diet, injury prevention, the difference between two positions of the same name (such as the number 4 & 5 lock) and then end with who the professionals think is the best player in the world at their position.

This is the last episode in the series and is concentrating on the biggest, strongest and most imposing players on the field, the loosehead and tighthead props, (numbers 1 & 3) and to do this we have with us some of the biggest names in rugby; we even have a New Zealand All Black with us:

Julian White MBE

Tighthead prop, Leicester Tigers, England & British and Irish Lions
One of the most destructive scrummagers to have ever have played the game, White was a loosehead’s nightmare. Hugely strong and dedicated to the art of powerful scrummaging, White’s temper and dedication sometimes crossed paths and landed the prop in trouble. He is a very humble man off the pitch, but good luck to any loosehead who would try and beat him.

Carl Hayman

Tighthead prop, Toulon & New Zealand
Having appeared over 40 times for New Zealand, Hayman is regarded as the finest tighthead prop to have ever played the game. Technically, Hayman is the hardest man to try and destabilise in the scrum. This showed in Toulon’s Heineken cup-winning campaigns in 2013 & 2014 where Hayman was dominant in virtually every engagement

Salesi Ma’afu

Tighthead prop, Northampton Saints & Australia
The Wallaby tighthead moved to Franklin’s Gardens for the 2013/14 season and proved a great signing by anchoring the Saints scrum firmly to the ground. The new laws have made the Saints scrum one of the most solid in England with Ma’afu being the powerful cornerstone.

Matt Hampson

Tighthead prop, Leicester Tigers & England U21
Matt Hampson was one of the hottest prospects for England Rugby. A powerful and dynamic tighthead prop, Hampson was a strong scrummager until a horrible accident left him paralyzed from the neck down. He now runs the Matt Hampson foundation, a fantastic organisation, which helps provide advice, support, relief and/or treatment for anyone suffering serious injury or disability which has arisen from any cause, but in particular from participation in or training for any sport, sporting activity or other form of physical education or recreation

Matt Stevens

Prop, Saracens, England & British and Irish Lions
One of the most versatile props in the world, Stevens was well known for having the ability to play both loosehead and tighthead, making him a very valuable asset to the team. Whilst at Bath, his loosehead partner David Flatman stated that during his time there Stevens was the best prop in the world at carrying the ball. Matt Stevens played his last game for Saracens in the 2013/14 Premiership final against Northampton Saints. Afterwards, he then moved back to his Native South Africa to play for the Natal Sharks

Campese Ma’afu

Loosehead prop, Nottingham & Fiji
Younger brother of Saints tighthead Salesi, Campese or “Campo” as he is known to his teammates plays on the opposite of the scrum to his brother. Added to him playing for Fiji (unlike his brother) this unique set of circumstances provided a fantastic spectacle in 2010 when the brothers made their international debuts during Australia v Fiji and for the first time in history prop brothers packed down against each other for a full on man on man battle at scrum time.

David Flatman

Loosehead prop, Bath & England
Flatman became the main loosehead prop for Bath during his career and also turned into one of the finest front rowers in the country. His ability to understand the game and pick it apart gave him a great weapon in his arsenal against opposing players. Capped several times by England, one of his greatest career moments was playing against South Africa to claim his first cap for his country.

Andrew Sheridan

Loosehead prop, Toulon, England & British and Irish Lions
The strongest man in the sport, Andrew Sheridan made an explosive starting debut for England in 2005 when he single-handedly destroyed the Wallaby scrum. His destructive force was just too much for most teams to deal with. He famously made the Australian scrum crumble again in the quarterfinals of the 2007 RWC, a match that many people thought England would lose heavily. With a bench press of 240 kg and a deadlift that exceeds 300 kg, Sheridan helped Toulon win the Heineken cup in 2013 by pure domination of his opponent, most notably England teammate Matt Stevens in the semi-finals. The most humble man I have ever met, he is one of the most ferocious players on the pitch a man who is, and I quote from Carl Hayman, “The hardest man I’ve scrummaged against.”


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photo credit: Sum_of_Marc via photopin cc