Direktlänk till inlägg 27 juni 2009

Match Tactics>defending against the maul...

Av ricardo rodriguez - 27 juni 2009 12:00


The maul is a potent attacking weapon. It saps the defence's energy and spirit, whilst giving attackers space and scoring opportunities.

The maul

A maul is where one player holding the ball is held, on their feet by one or more defenders and has another player from their own side bound onto them.


The maul has been one of the most notable attacking weapons developed since the penalty/lineout laws changed. A penalty hit to the corner followed by a catch and drive has been a popular and successful method of scoring 5 or 7 points instead of the previous 3.

Nowadays, though, good mauling sides are more prepared to catch and drive from much further out, sometimes even setting up a driving maul from a scrum.

What can't you do to defend against the maul?

Your best option is to stop the maul forming. Failing this, and unless there's a score or the attacking team move the ball from maul, the laws say a maul only ends when its forward momentum is halted for a period of 5 seconds.

Since the change to the ELV laws, you can no longer collapse the maul, so you need to halt its progress instead.

There are two ways to do this. Either stop it once it is going or disrupt it, maybe by not letting it get started.

Two strategies to prevent the maul forming

1. Tackle legs for no mauls

If a side likes to maul, then all your tackles should be aimed at bringing players to the ground as quickly as possible. Therefore all tackles should be leg tackles.

2. Stop the catch and drive

One of the most common starting points for a rolling maul is from the lineout. The best form of defence, apart from not allowing them to catch the ball, is to stop the "catch and drive" (forming a driving maul from the lineout catch).

One tactic is to tackle the jumper as an individual once the player has touched the ground. To do this, put a forward in the scrum half / first receiver position, so that he can drive in immediately after the jumper has reached the floor, adding additional weight and depth to the defence.

It's advisable to verify this tactic with the referee beforehand, so he is aware of your intention to make the tackle the moment before the maul forms.

Key ways to disrupting and stopping the maul A tight drive through the centre

The most basic way to prevent a maul is a tight drive hard through its centre. For some teams this may be enough to reduce the momentum.

In this instance, "tight" means the players working together, preferably bound together. They take short steps, with their hips below their shoulders, feeling the pressure coming through the legs and lower back.


A good mauling side is not going to drive down the same axis, especially if it is meeting resistance. Groups are going to roll off either side of the initial maul.

Your scrum half (9) has to redirect your players to where the maul has taken its centre of momentum.

Join as pairs

Players should endeavour to join mauls as pairs. Again, this has the aim to stagnate the momentum of the maul.

A stationary maul is the key outcome. If the players hit together then this has more chance of achieving this than one player at a time.

Push and pull

If it is not possible to stop the momentum, then a slightly more high risk manoeuvre is to use "push and pull". The idea is to unhinge the drive by pushing towards touch from the openside or pulling into touch on the blindside.

The momentum of the maul will still be forward, but the attacking maulers could easily lose shape. The ball carrier may also become exposed.

Three steps to holding the catch and drive maul, says Jim Love 1. The brace

My two players closest to the opposition ball get into a low body position and "brace", that is they spread their feet and lock their legs.

2. Use the opposition

If the opposition start to get some momentum in the drive, we try to use their own weight against them.

We focus on pushing the maul sideways, towards the touchline. In my experience, most players in the middle of a maul won't know which way they are going and often contribute to this sideways movement.

3. Depth

With two players bracing at the front of the maul, we only allocate another two players to the maul. These two players get right behind the front two players. This results in a long, not wide maul.

Normally, I find that the four players in this formation with the right technique will hold six opposition maulers.

To use this tactic, your players must:

  • Use short steps to drive forward.
  • Bind and drive right to the backsides of their own players, not to their backs or sides.
  • Maintain a strong body position.

Talk to the referee

The player with the ball at the back of a rolling maul needs to be bound on with a full arm. The defending players should keep asking the referee if the ball carrier is still bound properly. They need to be ready to pounce when and if the referee suggests not.

Referees will also become more aware of the validity of the rolling maul during the game.

What are you allowed to do?

Here are some interpretations of the Laws, as taken from the IRB website.

These are two questions asked by the New Zealand RFU. This should help decide how to stop the initial drive, before it becomes a maul.


Q1. Team A wins a 5 metre attacking scrum. The number 8 detaches with the ball. The blindside flanker (6) binds on immediately and they drive towards the line.

A defending player drives in low and wraps his arms around the legs (knee height) of the number 8, who still has the flanker bound to him. The number 8, still in possession of the ball, is brought to ground.

Ruling: The defender has not formed a maul, nor has he collapsed a maul.


Q2. Team A wins a 5 metre attacking scrum. The number 8 detaches with the ball. The blindside flanker (6) binds on immediately and they drive towards the line.

A defending player, while remaining on his feet, grasps the jersey (shoulder region) of the number 8, who still has his flanker bound to him, and immediately brings him to ground.


Ruling: The defender, if he has not bound (by definition) to the ball carrier (number 8), has not formed a maul, nor has he collapsed a maul.

Since there is no attempt in either case to bind on to the number 8 then there has been no maul formed, so it is legitimate to bring the two players to the ground. This can also be used for lineouts.


Better Rugby Coaching, VRS RUGBY,

  Djursholm; Stockholm

Email: ricardo@vrsrugby.com

Website: http://vrsrugbyfiles.bloggagratis.se/

© 2009 VRS Rugby Coaching.


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