Edinburgh air scrum concern with Pro12 officials

Tomas Leonardi is a key part of Edinburgh's scrum but their strength was not recognised against Connacht last Friday. Picture: SNS
Tomas Leonardi is a key part of Edinburgh's scrum but their strength was not recognised against Connacht last Friday. Picture: SNS
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EDINBURGH have made their concerns known to Guinness Pro12 league officials about the way the scrum was officiated during last Friday’s defeat by Connacht.

Head coach Alan Solomons said: “The Pro12 has a protocol where you can give feedback and that has been done, and we did that pursuant to a lengthy meeting on Monday night with Tappe Henning, who is the head of performance refereeing here [at the SRU].

“So, we have put in our feedback form as we always do and the scrum was an area of concern.

“We have a situation where we have a dominant scrum and we are not rewarded for having a dominant scrum.

“There were 12 scrums, two resets and, of the other ten scrums, I think there were five penalties and two free-kicks against us.

“Now, that is a scrum that was on top against Munster and was on top against Connacht, so that is a concern.”

Hooker Ross Ford, who captained the Edinburgh team last weekend, expressed his frustration after the match that he couldn’t fix the problem because Irish referee Gary Conway failed to communicate with the players – and this concern was included in the feedback.

Solomons added: “What we’ve done is deal with the thing in its entirety. We have dealt with it properly and within the terms of the protocol.

“It’s important that, when you have a dominant scrum, you should be rewarded for that.

“That is my opinion and the opinion of most coaches.

“The matter will be dealt with and they’ll give us feedback on what they think of the views we have expressed, and the referee is involved in the process.

“It is for the benefit of everybody. That is why we are very, very careful.

The South African continued: “We don’t submit anything unless we go through it with Tappe Henning and he’s happy. Obviously there are differences in opinion in rugby.”

Replacement tighthead prop WP Nel was sent to the sin-bin for a scrum infringement with 15 minutes to go, but Solomons is confident that he won’t end up serving a suspension later in the season because of that sanction.

“You can’t appeal it immediately unless it is mistaken identity, which wasn’t the case here. However, when three yellow cards are awarded and it comes in front of a disciplinary committee appointed by the Pro12 tournament, you can raise the question of whether a yellow card was justified or not at that point. We have clips of each particular incident, and I won’t go further than saying I’m pretty positive if it comes to that yellow card,” he said.

Solomons was at pains to stress that Edinburgh’s defeat was not purely down to their problems in the scrum, but he clearly believes it was a significant factor. “Our biggest problem was that we were reactive in that game instead of being proactive. We waited for the game to come to us to a large extent, and didn’t play with the aggression that we would like to see as the hallmark of our game.

“Obviously the game battled to get rhythm. I think we had one scrum off which we could launch [an attack], which was down in the right had corner when Cornel [du Preez] was short, and I think we only had two lineout launches. So, when that is happening with the bulk of the game, when your scrum is like that, it is going to be problematic. It has influence on the flow of the game,” added Solomons.

The coach has made seven changes to his starting XV for this Sunday’s clash against the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium. He insisted that is not a reaction to what happened against Connacht, but part of a rotational policy designed to make sure that his squad remain fresh over the course of the full season.

James Hilterbrand will start at hooker, with Neil Cochrane named on the bench, so that Ford can be given a break after four consecutive starts; while Anton Bresler gets his first start for the club in the second row.

Tim Visser returns from injury to play on the left wing, and Sam Hidalgo Clyne takes over from Sean Kennedy at scrum-half.

EDINBURGH TEAM

v Ospreys, Guinness Pro12, Liberty Stadium, Sunday, 4pm

15 J Cuthbert

14 N McLennan

13 P Burleigh

12 A Strauss

11 T Visser

10 T Heathcote

9 S Hidalgo-Clyne

1 A Dickinson

2. J Hilterbrand

3 W P Nel

4 F McKenzie

5 A Bresler

6 M Coman (capt)

7 H Watson

8 C Du Preez

Subs

N Cochrane, R Sutherland, J Andress, O Atkins, T Leonardi, G Hart, S Beard, G Tonks.