Speech therapy for Reds’ scrum woes

Hooker Mike Sherry has revealed the lengths Munster are prepared to go to sort out their scrum infringements — including playing audio of referee engagement calls while they are training.

Speech therapy for Reds’ scrum woes

Sherry explained how the Munster pack study the timing and technique of each referee to improve their penalty count at scrum time.

This weekend it’s Irish referee Dudley Phillips who takes charge of their must-win RaboDirect Pro12 clash with the Scarlets in Wales tomorrow.

A frustrating bone of contention with Rob Penney’s men has been giving ground to opponents through early engagement; in the corresponding fixture at Musgrave Park two months ago Munster were punished at scrum time and lost at least three gilt-edged opportunities to punish Scarlets in their red zone. Munster lost the match 6-13.

Last week, prop BJ Botha was heavily penalised and yellow-carded for similar offences before Munster took over scrum dominance and hammered Edinburgh 30-3. Botha and his forward colleagues have been working hard to ensure they’ve worked out exactly what is required to keep out of Phillips’ bad books tomorrow.

Sherry said: “We will have the calls from his last match (as for all referees) sent out to us over audio so we try to judge off that. We play it over an iPod down by the scrum machine to get our timing off that; we study exactly what the ref has done and what his penalties are for, what he’s hot on at the moment. We do that every week but it’s just that it doesn’t work out every week.”

Sherry accepted that his side sometimes have had to take responsibility for their own actions but feels they’re now in a much better place than eight weeks ago. Even in relation to last week, Sherry is more confident going into the Scarlets’ clash.

“We were coming back off a couple of weeks (against Edinburgh), the conditions were sticky and we were trying to get our systems back together. There are different interpretations, we had a (serious) chat this week, we’re trying to rectify that, holding our feet better, the ground was poor and I suppose we wouldn’t have had a lot of live scrummaging going into the match so hopefully that will stand to us this week.”

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