By Neil Reid
From left, Jason Ryan guides Owen Franks, Crusader Ben Funnel and Canterbury Academy prop Daniel Lienert-Brown.
ALL Blacks powerhouses Owen Franks and Wyatt Crockett are putting their weight behind a crusade to help young front-rowers safely develop their game.
The Front Row Club, the brainchild of Heartland rugby hero Jason Ryan, was launched in Christchurch last week.
Ryan, a prop who played 184 matches for Christchurch club Sydenham’s top side, is the Canterbury Rugby Football Union’s front row resource coach.
One of the Front Row Club’s main goals is to provide young props and hookers of all skill levels with specialist training to improve their safety and enjoyment of the game. Among its aims is the prevention of crippling spinal injuries.
“The safety side of it [scrummaging] is huge . . . there are a lot of things that can go wrong,” said Ryan, who also played in the Heartland Championship for three seasons for West Coast and one season for Buller.
“There is a lot of stuff that frontrowers, especially those at a young age, don’t really know. But it’s important that they know what their bodies are doing and are well aware of the basic techniques and safety techniques.
“These young guys are getting bigger and stronger and testosterone can be running high. It can be frightening [what can happen] if kids aren’t taught the right techniques.”
Ryan, 38, said his Front Row Club programme, which he spent three years developing, was designed to complement the New Zealand Rugby Union’s Front Row Factory initiative.
One of the keys to minimizing spinal injuries from scrums was ensuring fr0nt—rowers were “more educated” about safe techniques,he said.
“I always say, a safe technique is an effective technique?
Ryan, who will coach the West Coast in this season’s Heartland Championship, said changes to scrum laws in recent years were also helping.
Supporting his Front Row Club programme are Crockett, Franks, plus All Blacks scrum coach Mike Cron and Crusaders forwards coach and ex»All Blacks prop Dave Hewett.
“Those guys have heaps to Offer,” Ryan said.
Schools or clubs interested in the programme can contact Ryan at the Canterbury Rugby Union on 03 379 8300 or via the Front Row CIub’s Facebook page, facebook.com/frontrowclub
CRFU Academy Front Row boys in there new FRC T-Shirts they were presented tonight after the 4 weeks position specific sessions! Kodak moment!!!! — with Alex ‘Guppy’ Hodgman, Nozomu Fujita, Jase Ryan, Daniel Brown, Sabastian Siataga, Matthew Moulds and Nick Werahiko.