SARugbymag.co.za bestows the inaugural Play of the Week award on the unlikeliest of winners … a tighthead prop!
There was no shortage of contenders for this sought-after award. The gravity of England lock Maro Itoje’s match-winning try against France was difficult to ignore. The five-pointer kept England in the race for the Six Nations title, redeemed the under-fire second rower following criticism for poor discipline in recent weeks, and it ended France’s unbeaten run in the competition.
Then there was the breathtaking finish from Leicester Fainga’anuku. In a scene that would have been deemed too far-fetched for a sequel to Any Given Sunday, the Crusaders wing successfully landed his try while his body was airborne in a full-pitch, yaw-and-roll rotation outside the field of play, narrowly missing the turf with a flailing left boot to dot down in the corner.
But outside backs are paid to score spectacular tries; it’s what we expect from them. The same cannot be said of tighthead props and side-stepping.
While few coaches have got the stomach to designate their tightheads as primary ball-carriers, let alone give them license to try to evade tacklers, it appears Andy Farrell is a gambling man. In the 27th minute of Sunday’s 27-24 win over Scotland in Edinburgh, 48-Test scrum anchor Tadhg Furlong peaked – athletically speaking.
In a triumph for the tubbies, Furlong juked two Scotland defenders, sending the first to the deck with a strong step off the right pin before lining the second up for a heavy post-match fine with the same formula.
Fans are more likely to ride a unicorn than they are in one lifetime to see a tighthead stepping two defenders in a Test match. Well done, big fella!
We’ll always have those Furlong steps… pic.twitter.com/cwD0B8FVBC
— Pat McCarry (@patmccarry) March 14, 2021
Commentator: Only backs use footwork
Tadhg Furlong: Hold my beer 👇 pic.twitter.com/A5nXYSUS7y
— Andrew Brownhill (@AndrewBrownhil) March 14, 2021