Springbok prop Steven Kitshoff has admitted that scrumming on the Cape Town Stadium pitch is difficult and that they have to find solutions for the way scrums are being officiated in the Lions series.
The Springboks and British & Irish Lions were evenly matched at the scrums during the first Test in Cape Town this past Saturday.
This despite that Cape Town Stadium was visibly tearing up under the weight of the two packs, following a cold and rainy week in the buildup to the Test.
Overall, there were 15 scrums in the game and nine were completed at the first engagement, with four resulting in either a penalty or free kick.
Kitshoff, who plays his domestic rugby at the stadium for the Stormers, was asked during Monday’s media conference how he felt the pitch held up when he came on to the field in the second half.
“I think the field does cut up a lot and it is difficult to use your feet or plant [them] and there is some pressure coming,’ Kitshoff said. “The field does give way and it becomes very slippery. There are things that we work on, the way we want to scrum, that prevents that slipping. Having all eight guys with their studs in the ground helps a lot.”
There has been plenty of post-match focus on the officiating of the first Test, with several contentious moments highlighted by both pundits and SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus.
Among the contentious calls was when referee Nic Berry decided to award the Lions a scrum penalty, despite replays clearly showing Lions flank Tom Curry illegally lifting loosehead prop Ox Nche’s leg at the scrum.
“It is something that was missed and I definitely felt we had the go-forward on that scrum. It is one of those calls that could go either way.
The Springboks’ Bomb Squad, coming off the bench for the second half, also struggled to get any ascendency at the set piece, which Kitshoff admitted was – at least partially – down to how quickly the referee was calling for the ball to be used when it was available.
“The scrum in the second half was rock solid,” Kitshoff explained. “There were calls of ‘Use it’ when myself and Frans felt like we had a bit of go-forward or started to feel the cracks and then the call came from the ref.
“I understand the referee doesn’t want resets, so it’s part of the game and we just have to find solutions to get that go-forward a bit quicker if we want it.”
Photo: RODGER BOSCH/AFP via Getty Images