Do you have a breakdown policy? If not, you should. A policy helps guide players' actions at the breakdown. Alongside accurate skill execution, it can help to win the race to the space over the ball after a tackle. MORE
A good maul can change its point of attack to keep the defenders refocusing their efforts. Especially from a lineout, a “shift drive” moves the ball quickly from one driving maul to another. It requires lots of communication because the players are working in close unison to protect the ball and maintain momentum.
Warm up time: 5-7
Session time: 8-12
Development time: 10-15
Game time: 10-15
Warm down time: 5-7
What to think about
Though mauls tend to start from lineouts, they are also a good way of creating go forward ball from a slow ruck. The first key is to get the ball off the ground and away from the ruck.
The first player into the next contact becomes the target for a maul and the ball is moved back and away from the opposition, whilst the other players create a seal around it.
The players who were on the ground at the ruck, move around into position to “shift drive” the maul and thus create further forward momentum before the ball is released.
- Set up an initial maul, but keep balanced with the ball at the back.
- Move the ball carrier to the one side and drive forward to create another maul at least one player’s width from the edge of the first maul.
What you get your players to do
Put two ruck pad holders tightly together (you can bind a third person behind them). Place a third ruck pad holder about a metre to one side. Have four attackers drive into the two pads, form a maul and then shift the maul into the other pad holder. Have at least one other attacker to support the maul. Start the exercise at walking pace to check and discuss body positions and communication. Eventually increase the pace and remove the pads.
Put three defenders in the middle channel with one defender in each of the two narrow channels. Put at least five attackers at one end of the box. Give the attack three attempts to score at the other end. They are only allowed to maul and cannot pass the ball. The attack ends if a ruck forms or any normal infringement occurs. Note the scoring system in the middle picture and adjust according to your needs.
Line up two teams of at least four players in the box about one metre apart, facing a player with a ball. Call which team will receive the ball. The ball is thrown to one of the receiving team’s players and his team try to score at the far end. They are only allowed to maul and cannot pass the ball. The attack ends if a ruck forms or any normal infringement occurs. Remove the maul-only rule after several goes to see how the teams react.
What to call out
- “Keep the ball safe and away from opposition arms”
- “A noisy maul is a good maul”
- “Short steps and keep control”