A chilly evening midweek saw me take to my favourite road – the M25 – to make my way to Allianz Park for the Saracens Supporters Association’s Front Row Event.
I’m a member of the committee so try to arrive early to meet and greet people – but with problems on both the M25 and A406 that wasn’t to be. A long tedious journey after a full day at work was pretty grotty.
The room was nicely filled when I arrived and the people who’d ventured out will have been glad they made the effort! Petrus Du Plessis led the evening – he’d prepared a pretty decent ‘show’ which I’ll go into a bit more.
He was joined by his fellow Front Row colleagues Brett Sharman, Rhys Gill, Juan Figallo and Richard Barrington. Petrus started by introducing his fellow Front row Saracens – there was a small boo when Brett mentioned his former club Northampton Saints
Petrus asked for memorable moments – and what was plain was how important the trips the team take are. Juan’s introduction was pretty much the trip to Chicago – in his words ‘it was an unbelievable trip’
Brett came later in the season but felt at home in what they al called ‘the family’ . The New York trip was popular and it was clear a great time was had by all – also it seemed that these front row men stick together.
We were shown a video with some very funny moments – not least the Schalk Brits collision with Wayne Barnes – shown from every angle possible.
The rest of the evening revolved around the scrum – we looked at videos of scrums from 1975 – 2015. How that part of the game has changed over those years.
Petrus then showed us a series of scrums from Saracens’ competitors – and explained pretty much how each club worked at the scrum. It was very interesting to see clearly the intricacies of the scrum. The inner working if you like.
Petrus with help from the others explained how important every single man is in the scrum, how each position has a part to play. And how if one gets it wrong, the knock on effect can be dramatic.
The presentation/chat was hugely informative and really interesting – I did wonder if the odd referee couldn’t have benefited from listening and watching!
Petrus moved on to injuries likely when in that front row, he showed a rather odd American video showing the risk for the men at the front of the scrum as they take the force of 3000lbs bearing down on them.
A video of the Double Header after the 2011 Premiership Final (won of course by Saracens) showed a scrum collapsing with Petrus in a lot of trouble. At the time he thought he’d broken his neck, that fortunately wasn’t the case. But the injury left him paralysed of ra while in the neck, shoulder and arm. It would take 9 months to recover.
Juan came to the club on the back of a double fusion of his C5 & C6 – an injury that prevented him playing in France. He came to Saracens having heard about how they work with the neck area. Again we were shown a video of players specifically exercising their necks with weights in tow.
Rhys tore his Pectoral muscle from the bone through propping and tore his ACL. Brett tore his MCL and ACL as a scrum collapsed – a physio treating him for another issue asked if he’d been involved in a huge car accident!
The session ended with a quick summary of the diet of a prop – a lot of calories a day! Round about 4000. However in Petrus’s case his 120Kg frame is made up of 94kg muscle. A sign that these men work hard in the gym!
The evening over ran after a question and answer session – everyone will have left the room with a much deeper understanding of the deep art of scrummaging.