Scrummage key to success

Lions legend Willie-John McBride believes a solid scrum will be crucial if the Lions are to return home victorious from this summer's tour of South Africa. [more]

Scrummage key to success

Lions legend Willie-John McBride believes a solid scrum will be crucial if the Lions are to return home victorious from this summer’s tour of South Africa.

McBride, who toured on five occasions with the Lions and captained the tourists to a series victory against the Springboks in 1974, knows better than most the importance of providing a steady platform on the hard grounds of South Africa.

The Boks have always taken pride in their physical presence and their ability to dominate sides up front and McBride admits that South Africa is no place for shrinking violets.

"We’ve got to get our scrum right, we’ve got to get in their face and we’ve got to take the game to them," said McBride, who also managed the Lions in New Zealand 26 years ago.

"In 1974, we had one hell of a pack of forwards but we had a super front row.

"I know the game’s changed, I know the game’s professional and I know that scrummaging has changed but, whether we like it or not, I still believe that the team that can scrummage is the team that wins the match.

"Hopefully, we’re getting there, although sometimes I worry."



The Lions need a powerful scrum to trouble the Boks says Willie-John McBride

If the Lions can produce the goods at the scrummage, then McBride is confident that they can erase the memories of 2001 and 2005 and give the masses of travelling support something to shout about.

Having kept a close eye on the autumn internationals and the recent Six Nations, McBride has little doubt that there is enough talent in Britain and Ireland to trouble the world champions in their own backyard.

"I’m excited about this tour. There’s a lot of very good, exciting, young players around," added McBride.

"We have the right management, the right support around the coach and manager and, I think, we have the right players around.

"I think the Springboks are beatable. I think Wales let them off the hook in the autumn.

"One of the great things is that the players in this present era are as keen to be a Lion as we were in our day. I think that’s healthy for the game."

Previous story Cueto still hurting
Next story Hall of Fame turns to Lions
Download