It counted for nowt at the end, but England achieved supremacy in the scrum against Wales last weekend. Watching the game at home, former referee Jonathan Kaplan had a fair idea why this was so.
I'd like to see if the England pack is square on the loose head side ... just the once
— Jonathan Kaplan (@RefJK) September 26, 2015
— Powell (@TheVietGwent) September 27, 2015
Essentially, the argument is that England loose head Joe Marler was not scrummaging straight but was instead 'boring in' on the Welsh tight head, causing the Welsh scrum to wheel.
Understandably, Australian rugby fans have eagerly taken up the baton and have sought to get the hashtag #scrumstraightjoe trending on Twitter.
And Australia's World Cup winning coach Bob Dwyer has been prominent among the campaigners. Dwyer, who guided Campese and co. to the ultimate prize in 1991, effectively appealed to referee Roman Poite to watch out for infringements on the English loose head side.
So much of the scrum is based on perception. The English work on having a reputation for legal scrummaging while doing the opposite. If I was Michael Cheika, I would be asking the referee is that (Marler angling in) allowed.
Let’s hope they are not allowed to do that because England won a few penalties against Fiji that I would have awarded in the opposite direction. I do concede it is extremely difficult to referee.
Furthermore, Dwyer believes that 'angling in' is not just a peculiar kink of Marler's scrummaging, but is a concerted strategy by England in that position. He told the Telegraph he had previously attributed it to Mako Vunipola. However, he now observes Marler doing the same thing.
I have thought this for a couple of years but I originally attributed it to Mako Vunipola. Then I saw Joe Marler starting and they were both doing exactly the same thing. It must be by design.
Neither of them scrummage square. Both of them angle in. Invariably that is at 45 degrees, but sometimes that ends up being at 90 degrees. Then when I see the opposition being penalised, I find that extremely hard to understand.
Dwyer contends that Marler was previously a sub-par scrummager at international level. However, Marler has become hugely effective in recent times. Dwyer argues this is purely because he has been allowed 'scrummage at 45-90 degrees'.