Lions will have to match Glasgow's flair

rugby15 May 2024 13:45| © SuperSport
By:Brenden Nel
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Julian Redelinghuys © Gallo Images

The Emirates Lions know they will have to pull out all the stops to keep their season alive and can’t simply rely on altitude when they face Franco Smith’s Glasgow Warriors side in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Emirates Lions scrum coach Julian Redelinghuys believes that his side will need to be at their best, especially given the fightback that the Warriors showed in going down at Loftus Versfeld last week.

“They’re a well-coached team and are top of the log; best in the tackling stats, and best in defensive stats,” Redelinghuys said ahead of the game..

“From our side, if you rely on the altitude to win a game for you, you’re going to make a mistake. Glasgow didn’t go lay down in the last 20 minutes at Loftus Versfeld, they actually made a step up.

“The questions we have are: are they going to stick to their DNA, or try and do what Munster and Cardiff did, which is kick the ball and not want to play too much.”

Glasgow are traditionally a side that likes to move the ball and score tries, and it is likely on a hard field on the Highveld, and after being in Johannesburg for 10 days, they may feel they need to get a four-try bonus point.

“Their DNA is actually playing the ball and running it a lot, so we’re keen to see what they’re going to bring to the party. My opinion is they’re going to want to build momentum, they’re touring with their full-strength squad and will pick their best team this weekend.”

Redelinghuys said the key to winning at this stage of the tournament was being able to dominate the physical battle, something they struggled with because of the lack of setpieces.

“What we find, in our last three games against Leinster, Munster, and Cardiff – on our own ball we’ve only had six or seven scrums in three games. So it’s just over an average of two.

“And on their ball, a little bit more. So Munster and Cardiff kicked the ball the whole time. Then you don’t have the opportunity on your own ball when your loose forwards are in, to dominate as much. So you have to dominate on their ball, which means their loosies are not standing up.

“There will always be scrums in the game. With us wanting to play the ball a lot, there are a little bit more errors than other teams because we try to play expansive rugby.

“So there will be scrums because of that,” he concluded.

Redelinghuys also dived into the contentious issue of the new laws that have been implemented by World Rugby that some accuse of being able to depower the scrum.

The fact that teams can no longer take a scrum from a free kick will have implications on the game.

“Not a lot of teams have made use of the scrum specifically from a free kick.

“By them taking that away, it’s just giving Damian Willemse more TV time,” Redelinghuys joked.

“Obviously, the scrum is a big part of the game. If it wants to be like League where they have similar size guys and they play differently – what we appreciate about rugby is every guy has his place.

“We have different players for different roles with a scrum - it is one of two places where you can legally get dominance which is a massive part in rugby.

“I think for the industry it’s important to manage the scrums and the process of the scrum so it’s still a good contest but it doesn’t take up ball-in-play time.”

Redelinghuys said he wasn’t against a shot clock in rugby to regulate the scrums.

“There I will come up for the spectators because the frustrating thing for everyone is when a scrum is reset like three times, and the wings on the edge just want the ball and now they are just looking at a scrum falling down and getting up again.

“I think that’s a good strategy. You want ball-in-play to be as high as possible to let these guys that have X-factor do their thing so that people want to watch the game because that is ultimately how you generate income for the game,” he said.