View Full Version : The maul - and when to end it.

29-03-04, 18:03
I'm not going to proffer my opinion, but I'd like some informal feedback about the maul, and when it ends.

A referee I was with over the weekend said that he would whistle to stop the maul, even if moving, if he felt that the ball was somewhere in the middle and unlikely to emerge.

It had arisen because one of the teams that he was refereeing were trying to use the driving maul as a weapon. The ball was getting tied in, but they were still moving the maul forwards in compliance with law. They were having trouble understanding why the whistle kept going - and he wouldn't explain (which I have an issue with, but that's a different topic).

His rationale for blowing up was: if he allows it to continue is that he will have one of two outcomes: Someone collapses the maul, in which case he has to give a penalty, or it will come down in a mess, and someone will go in with boots on bodies, which will mean a penalty.

I have my own opinions on this, but I'd like to know what my esteemed colleagues think.

29-03-04, 21:03

I let the maul continue as long as it is moving forward. When it stops I count to 5 and call 'Blue, use it!' If it starts moving forward again then fine. When it stops for the second time I will probably allow a shorter time before expecting it to emerge. If I cannot see the ball I may well call the advancing scrum half to tell me where it is as an indication that I want it moved and quickly too. If the maul collapses whether wilfully or otherwise, I manage it accordingly ensuring that players on their feet tread carefully or suffer the consequences. Your colleague has not allowed for the possibility that the ball may become available immediately at the collapse of the maul.

A moving/rolling maul is one of the skills of the game and well legislated for. I am of the opinion that referees cannot dictate how they want the maul played to the level that you suggest your colleague seems to be doing.

Two yellows only to the Hurris this weekend by the way, lots of earache though.

29-03-04, 23:03
Two yellows only to the Hurris this weekend by the way, lots of earache though.

That counts as a good game then! Almost perfect discipline by those standards...

Robert Burns
30-03-04, 00:03
I think you have to play the maul till it ends, thats like blowing up before a ruck forms incase people get hurt, bit of a pre-empt

30-03-04, 17:03

(d) When a maul remains stationary or has stopped moving forward for more than 5 seconds, but the ball is being moved and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.

(e) When a maul has stopped moving forward it may start moving forward again providing it does so within 5 seconds. If the maul stops moving forward a second time and if the ball is being moved and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.

(f) When the ball in a maul becomes unplayable, the referee does not allow prolonged wrestling for it. A scrum is ordered.

The law says that if the maul is moving, forwards, then it can continue. If it stops moving forwards (eg. goes sideways) then there are 5 seconds allowed for it to emerge. It also says that if the ball is at the back and clearly visible then a "reasonable time" will be allowed.

This would seem to be in addition to the 5 seconds.

The clear implication is that there may be times when the ball is not being moved and the ref cannot see it. At which time the 5 second limit is final.

However, if the ref decides the ball is "unplayable" then he can call the maul over rather than aloow prolonged wrestling.

Which seems to cover whichever way you want to play it.

In practise I would suspect that it isn't a bad move to blow it up if the ball is patently not coming, regardless of whether the maul is moving. After encouraging the players to let you know where it is.

30-03-04, 22:03
I'm not convinced.

If the team has the maul still moving, then they stamd the chance of getting a penalty if the opposition decide to collapse it.
I would argue that if a maul is discernibly moving forwards, then someone is doing right and constructive, and should be allowed to continue.
To give you an example, a ladies team round these here parts score d a try from a maul that had moved over 35 metres.

If you are defending and moving the maul, then if the balll comes out, the defence is moving forward and able to pressurize the ball carriers - they are rewarded for their skill in moving the maul.

If the attacking side is moving forward, then they have the defence on the back foot, and the attackers get their reward for moving the maul.

For me to judge that the ball is "unplayable" is, I think, an exercise in judgement too far. I have yet to see/hear an argument to convince me that stopping a moving maul is of benefit.

31-03-04, 10:03
completely concur.

How can that ref tell what will happen in 10m time - maybe a defending player will have spun off the side and the ball come more playable. Maybe the maul ends up in goal (where of course it is not l;onger a maul!) it collapses and the team carryting the ball score a try in the melee that ensues - how could anybody have claimed that their previous actions weren't "positive" ?

Your ref chum is a burk. He's obvioulsy looking for reasons to blow the whistle rather than promote the playing of rugby.


31-03-04, 12:03
I would agree, but the laws do seem to allow the ref to decide whether he feels th ballis "unplayable", and if so to bring things to an end.

Which sounds to me like a tool which we can use if we really need to, rather than a way of managing the maul in the majority of cases. Judging the temprament of the game etc., it may on occasion be wise to blow up and simply say "OK it stuck in there, scrum".

Most times I would agree that a moving maul is a dynamic changing environment, so let it run its course. But I will accept every tool in the box if I need them.