South Africa’s epic 29-28 World Cup quarter-final win over France on Sunday had a lot going on. From a charged down conversion to a backwards penalty kick, it was a match that seemed to have it all.
But one thing that is rarer than either of those two things is calling a scrum off a mark, so much so that many fans out there were not even aware that it is allowed. Opting for a scrum from a mark is so seldom seen that it would only really take a team like South Africa with all their scrummaging strength to go for it. Not many would expect them to do so in such a high-stakes game against a French pack who are not exactly pushovers.
When the Springboks’ fullback Damian Willemse received the ball in his own 22 with a few minutes of the first-half remaining, called for a mark and then called for a scrum, it caught many off guard. But then for the Boks to go on and actually win a penalty from the resulting scrum is one of the greatest signs of a team’s confidence in their own ability the game has ever seen, not to mention quite a flex.
Fans, pundits and players took to X as soon as the Boks pulled off this feat, and here are some of the responses:
“Scrum from a mark!? Penalty won! Know your strength and back it. Super from The Boks.”
Scrum from a mark!? Penalty won! Know your strength and back it. Super from The Boks. #FRAvsRSA
“So Damian called for the mark, then took the option to scrum which resulted in a scrum pen. Talk about flexing your muscle!”
“One big takeaway from last night in particular: the Springboks have kept the faith of scrummaging even when it wasn’t being rewarded. They even called a scrum off a mark last night. And last night, they were rewarded for some brilliant scrummaging. The faith was justified.”
“Imagine calling a mark and taking the scrum. The sheer audacity of it.”
“Didn’t even know you could call a scrum from a mark. Never seen it and then they demolished the French scrum.”
“Winning a scrum penalty after opting for a scrum off a mark is vintage South Africa.”
Winning a scrum penalty after opting for a scrum off a mark is vintage South Africa.
— Will O’Callaghan (@willocallaghan) October 15, 2023
“Calling for a scrum after that mark is pretty cocky. Is there a play coming from this set piece.”
“The SA team are incredible. The call for a scrum from the mark is the biggest show of attitude, confidence and dominance I can ever remember seeing.”
“Never seen a scrum called from a mark. Unbelievable clarity from a team that knows what they’re about and how they want to achieve it.”