A tighthead prop is definitely the most important player in a team. They are one of the most prized players across Europe and the rest of the world realized it in more recent years. The most exciting of the tighthead props currently playing the game has got to be Tadhg Furlong, but if you are looking for the legend of legends, then that would be Martin Castrogiovanni.
The tighthead prop is literally the cornerstone of a scrum. There are extreme physical demands placed on their bodies and each game pushes them to the brink. A team with a good tighthead is often seen dominating scrums, which not only gives their team front-foot ball, but also often results in scrum penalties for their team. They are therefore indirectly responsible in many instances for the glory that flyhalves get for the penalties they put over.
Most professional teams have however realized that this power and the ability to apply it with precision aren’t available in abundance globally. As a result good tighthead props have become some of the most sought after players in the European leagues. The rest of the world took a bit of time to catch up to this but is now a global consensus.
Attributes of a tighthead prop
It is difficult to take anything away from their fellow prop in the number 1 jersey, but a truly brilliant tighthead prop is a rare find.
A good tighthead prop should:
- be extremely strong, especially through the core, neck and buttocks
- be fearless
- have a few centimeters in height of their loosehead prop partner (open for debate)
- have the power to outlift everyone else in the team (deadlifts, squats and Olympic lifts are their best friends)
- extremely high levels of fitness to aid quick recovery between scrums and other phases
How a tighthead prop can be used at different age levels
The props are the big guys in a team at a very young age and coaches often don’t really differentiate between them.
There should however be a differentiation based on their temperament and approach specifically to scrums. The number 3 will be the one who is slightly more athletic and has more focus on “doing it right”.
This approach to scrums would serve them well as they move up in age groups as their position also comes with the highest risk levels.
It is crucial that they get taught the correct binding techniques and angles to scrum at a young age. This would ensure that they will be able to play effectively for many years.
The tighthead prop will also help out at lineout time as a lifter from a young age.
As they get older they would however be expected to help out a lot more across the field. Like their loosehead counterpart, they are expected to become another hooker or flanker in loose play by hitting rucks, tackling and running with the ball regularly.
They are however forgiven for contributing slightly less in these areas due to the high demands placed on them at scrum time.