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'It can be something great': Schmidt turns to 'scrum doctor' as next step in Wallabies rebuild

1st April, 2024
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1st April, 2024
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Joe Schmidt has locked down the world’s top scrum guru, Mike Cron, as part of his Wallabies coaching team.

The Kiwi, known as the ‘scrum doctor’ has been an assistant at five men’s World Cups and one women’s tournament and was most recently World Rugby’s set-piece consultant at last year’s World Cup where he worked alongside referees, analysing every scrum decision.

His technical nous and standing in the game are a massive boost for the Wallabies as they try to rebuild after Eddie Jones.

Cron, uncle of Western Force coach Simon, will join defence coach Laurie Fisher in a pared back coaching team where Schmidt is expected to have responsibility for attack. It’s believed that Schmidt is looking to fill just one more role – a lineout coach.

Assistant Coach Mike Cron looks on during a New Zealand All Blacks training session at Linwood Rugby Club on May 29, 2018 in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

Mike Cron. (Photo by Kai Schwoerer/Getty Images)

That’s in contrast to the Wallabies under Jones, who had respected Neal Hatley as scrum coach, rugby league’s Brett Hodgson and Jason Ryles, and former scrumhalf Pierre-Henry Broncan as a maul coach and Dan Palmer on lineouts. The reduced number can be linked to the overspend on the failed World Cup campaign.

But Schmidt has clearly opted for quality over quantity. Cron has been coaching for more than 30 years, and was an assistant with the All Blacks for more than 200 Tests.

“For me, it is a magnificent launching pad if you do it correctly. You need the cattle and the right attitude,” Cron said of the scrum in an interview with the Irish Examiner last year.

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“The biggest thing, the scrum should be seen as a positive thing not a negative. A chance to attack. It is where the characters of the team usually are, even if they are scallywags. It can be something great.”

In the same interview he gave an insight into his approach to coaching.

“At the elite level you are finetuning, one or two percent. Think of the golf coach, educating and coaching one of the best players in the world. Every day he goes out you are looking to make sure he doesn’t develop a slice or hook.

“You fix that technique before it becomes a problem or a habit. Your job at the top level is to educate and continually improve them. Sit there and analyse the biomechanics at training. You identify if something is off and fix it. You never get to a stage where you sit back and say job done.” 

Cron is a believer in innovation.

“I look at other sports really to try and upskill myself,” Cron told NewsHub.

“In the past I’ve been to sumo wrestling in Japan or in America, the New York giants, Knicks, Yankees, Pittsburgh Penguins.

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“This year I went to the Royal New Zealand ballet for their lifting and I went into cage fighting on the Gold Coast, looking at activities, how to get off the ground quickly, those sort of things.

“Every year you have to be better than last year otherwise you shouldn’t be here, so that’s the first thing.”

Meanwhile, the Wallabies also announced Chris Thomson has been appointed as team manager in a key backroom appointment.



Thomson joins the Wallabies from the ACT Brumbies, where he has been in the role of General Manager of Professional Rugby and Pathways since 2022 and he replaced Chris Webb in the role.
 
He was previously employed at World Rugby as the High-Performance Project Manager for Pathways and Player Development and before that was the General Manager of the Fijian Drua, departing after the team won the 2018 National Rugby Championship.  
 
Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt said of the two appointments: : “Mike has added tremendous value in every programme he has been involved with and brings a wealth of knowledge to our coaching group.”
 
“Knowing Chris from his time at World Rugby, he will work extremely hard behind the scenes to make sure we are well organised from an off-field perspective.”

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