Ally Dickinson has revealed he nearly passed out during the gruelling scrum which launched last week’s Scotland-All Blacks encounter.
A capacity BT Murrayfield crowd looked on as the ball sat in the middle of the tunnel and because of the pressure exerted by two heavyweight packs neither hooker could lift his foot to strike for fear of causing a pile-up and conceding a penalty.
What many observers would not be aware of at the beginning of a match Scotland eventually lost 16-24 was just how an impasse like that affected those in the front line.
Dickinson, the 17st 7lb Edinburgh prop forward, said: “At the first one I thought I was going to pass out at one point. The ball just sat there. I’m too not sure the ref knew what to do. He thought ‘I better blow this up so we can re-set it’.
“At one point I was trying to blow the ball back but it wasn’t gong anywhere. It would have been a bit risky and I really would have passed out if I had done that. Both teams really wanted to set a marker and it was a bit of a stalemate.
“We got a penalty at the next scrum and it really was tough. There was a lot of pressure coming through. It was two pretty heavy packs going at each other and we were pretty low to the ground.”
Scots scrum half Greig Laidlaw, positioned alongside, admitted that the initial set-piece was an excellent example of rival forwards wanting to gain an immediate edge. “It was a good scrum and showed how good the new Murrayfield pitch is,” he said. “The pitch never moved an inch, allowing boys to scrum.
“They were so low when I put the ball in it hit on Dicko’s knee then stuck. By the end his head was pretty much on the ball as well. Scrums are a tough part of the game to referee now but that first scrum was a good spectacle. It set the tone and you could hear the crowd getting involved.”
Dickinson is braced for a possible repeat when the viagogo Autumn Test series ends against Tonga at Kilmarnock on Saturday. “I’ve played with one or two Tongans,” he said. “They can hit you like a bus.”