De Villiers calls on referees to increase vigilance

Pieter de Villiers believes the letter of the law is not always followed in how teams set up.

Springbok scrum coach Pieter de Villiers. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - Pieter de Villiers, South Africa's scrum coach, has called on referees to keep a closer eye on the scrum in the closing games of the Rugby Championship.

De Villiers admits the Springboks were dominated by Argentina in the set-piece in their first two matches, but said before Saturday's game against Australia that inconsistent refereeing remained a problem.

He believes the letter of the law is not always followed in how teams set up and this can be a disadvantage for powerful scrummaging sides like South Africa.

"They have been difficulties in terms of the set-up and this is something that referees must manage," De Villiers told reporters on Monday.

"Some teams prefer to set up with shoulders touching, while others prefer to go ear to ear, which is as the law states."

South Africa conceded four penalties on their own scrum in the 33-31 victory over Argentina in Salta but De Villiers says the team improved in subsequent defeats to Australia and New Zealand.

"We have scrummed well for two years, the difficulties we have had in two games against Argentina don't make us bad in the scrum."

"We have gone back to basics and looked at a number of things, such as our height on engagement."

Nigel Owens of Wales will be in charge of Saturday's test at Newlands.

"Refereeing the scrums has always been difficult and as much as the laws have changed, it is still difficult. There is much to look at and the referee cannot see everything," De Villiers said.

"We try very hard to stick within the rules and for us, the more we dominate the front row, the more we make it easy for the referee to make an easy call. But if you are dominated yourself then that forces you into mistakes."

"Australia have a good engagement, we expect a strong challenge. They fared well against Argentina recently."

South Africa and Australia have 10 points after four rounds of the Rugby Championship and trail leaders New Zealand by six.

The All Blacks will claim the title if they win with a bonus point against Argentina in La Plata on Saturday, although they may not need the extra point if neither South Africa nor Australia take five from their game in Cape Town.