Yanks hit the scrum machine

What do you get when eight 130kg fridges disguised as American footballers hit a rugby union scrum machine? A whole lot of dust and effort, but not a lot of movement!

In a fantastic international sporting exchange hosted by the Ikey Tigers, 100 college football players from the visiting University of Michigan in the USA descended upon the beautiful UCT “Green Mile” in Cape Town on Sunday.

The huge traveling group, consisting of 150 players and management members, is visiting South Africa as part of their annual experiential sports and cultural learning programme.

The “Wolverines” arrived in South Africa last week, taking in Robben Island, Signal Hill, Table Mountain and other historical tourism attractions in Cape Town before donning their cleats for the coaching session on Sunday afternoon.

After a short and fun warm up, Ikey coaches Christiaan Esterhuizen, Tank Lanning and Craig Childs took the UCT and UWC sides through a few lineout, scrum, maul, defence and attack drills to demonstrate a few basic rugby concepts to the eager college football stars.

A particularly vibrant session on the scrum machine that saw Lanning taking the Ikey pack through a series of timing based drills was followed by an impromptu attack on the machine by a few of the larger blocks of granite from Michigan. To the relief of the local players, while seeing huge individual efforts, it was the machine that won that initial battle.

Bok scrum coach Matt Proudfoot was then tasked with getting some cohesion into their efforts.

Springboks RG Snyman, Elton Jantjies, Marvin Orie and Aphiwe Dyantyi, as well as Blitzbok stars Zain Davids and Philip Snyman were in attendance, as were a group of learners from the Vuka Busy Bees rugby programme.

Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines’ head coach, said that through the programme, the university wants to allow their players and coaching staff enjoy a wide variety of cultures and sporting experiences.

Their previous trips included similar exchanges in France and Italy, but this is the first visit to Africa for most of the big traveling party.

“The players and coaching staff were just blown away by the amount of enthusiasm for sport in this country,” said Harbaugh.

“Our boys are having a great time and it is wonderful for them to experience the sights, sounds and sporting culture of South Africa.”

Blitzbok coach Neil Powell said: “It was a really unique gathering and something special. I appreciated the exchanges of coaching philosophies, it was a nice experience for us as coaches as well.”

“It was great fun to explain the basics of rugby to them – they learned a lot in the short time we were together and we managed to learn a lot from their sporting experiences and challenges. It was a great exercise and well worth the exercise,” said Bulls and Bok lock Snyman.

While the Boks and Blitzboks were interacting with the college players, the Wolverines coaching staff met with the UCT coaching and conditioning coaches, exchanging experiences and ideas in their respective fields of expertise, with the outcome being a Michigan rugby union XV.

The group are currently on safari near the Kruger Park and return to the USA later in the week.

- Tank Lanning

Let's chat

  • Barry

    Thanks for sharing the story!

    Sounds like they didn’t get to the Capital of college rugby, just down the road.lol

    Just saying…

  • Nick

    Great Idea. I’m sure the coaches would have an interesting ‘cross code’ chat. Pity the Rand is so weak, This type of visit would be even better if it was easier to reciprocate.
    Here’s hoping the fledgling Michigan Rugby xv goes from strength to strength and brings good people to the game.

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