Ox Nche takes aim at scrum law changes as he defends role of rugby's 'big boys'

Ox Nche takes aim at scrum law changes as he defends role of rugby's 'big boys'

Springbok and Sharks prop Ox Nche has expressed his unhappiness over World Rugby's decision to amend the scrum law from July 1.

Earlier this month, the global game's governing body announced that teams will no longer be able to opt for a scrum when they receive a free-kick in one of three law changes they argue are designed to make the game more entertaining.

By removing the scrum as an option World Rugby is hoping that it will encourage more open play with free-kicks having to be either tapped or kicked.

Critics like former referee Nigel Owens, meanwhile, have argued that it will lead to more gamesmanship from teams that have weaker scrums and won't actually achieve what it is designed to do.

As for Nche, he's not interested in any law that seeks to minimise the impact of the "big boys" in rugby, which is part of what makes rugby union so unique.

"For me, it is a big part of the game. That's why I always say anyone, any shape, any size can play, and the scrum is a big part of the game where the big boys can also take on each other and challenge each other," said the 28-year-old who was a key part of the Boks' Rugby World Cup-winning squad in 2023.

"If we don't want the scrum in rugby then we should just start watching rugby league I guess," Nche quipped.

The scrum was one of South Africa's main weapons at last year's global showpiece in France and Nche's exploits during the set-piece â- especially when he came off the bench during the latter rounds â- helped the Springboks defend their world title.

Nche downplayed his role in the Boks' success and opened up about the benefits of scrummaging in a unit, the much-vaunted 'Bomb Squad' and adapting to different players in the front five.

"Honestly, I think it's the way I'm able to just work with the guys around me in my pack," he said. "I'm always open-minded to even how the locks feel and what they prefer us doing. I'm just always trying to get everyone aligned.

"You don't just win a scrum alone; you win it together. The most important thing is understanding the guys around you and making sure that we're all making plans to actually make the scum better and dominate the guys in front of us."

At the Sharks, Nche is part of a squad which has several Springboks in their ranks and many of them won the World Cup alongside him in 2023. He believes it's a huge benefit to be in such esteemed company at the Durban-based outfit.

"You have guys that are experienced and also open-minded and willing to learn, so you get the best of both worlds," said Nche.

"Not a lot of guys have that privilege to actually say you're playing with guys that have won a World Cup twice or have over 100 international caps, so it makes a big difference. It helps a lot."

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