Secrets of the maul

Starting a maul A maul starts with three players bound together on their feet with the ball off the ground.

The three players: The ball carrier and one player from each side. More players can then be added to the maul.

Bound together: Players must be bound with a full arm, not just a hand.

On their feet: Players must stay on their feet in a maul, otherwise they are likely to be penalised. The only player who can "go to ground" is the ball carrier.

Joining and leaving the maul

Any of these misdemeanours brings about a penalty.

  • A player must bind on fully.

  • A player cannot jump on top of the maul.

  • A player cannot drag other players out of the maul.

  • A player cannot intentionally bring the maul to ground.

A free kick will be awarded if you try to fool the other side into thinking the ball is out of the maul.

Offside at the maul

  • The maul has an offside line on the back foot (the hindmost foot or last feet) of the hindmost player in the maul. A player can only join the maul by binding on to or alongside the hindmost player.
  • Any player not involved in the maul must retire behind the offside line.
  • Any offside results in a penalty.

End of the maul 

A successful end of a maul is when the ball and or players leave the maul, or the ball goes to ground. The ball carrier can go to ground with the ball in a maul, but the ball must be immediately available to play.

Apart from for reasons of foul play, an unsuccessful end of a maul is when:

  • The maul has stopped moving forward for longer than 5 seconds. A scrum is awarded. If the ball becomes available in a stationary maul, the referee may allow a reasonable time for the ball to be released.

  • The maul collapses but not as a result of not foul play. A scrum is awarded.

Whose scrum after the maul?

The team not in possession of the ball when the maul started are awarded the scrum. If there is doubt as to who had the ball when the maul started, then the referee gives the ball to the side going forward.

Exception to the Law: If a player catches the ball from a kick, other than a restart, and then immediately becomes part of the maul, his team will have the put-in if a scrum is ordered from that maul.

This article is taken from the Better Rugby Coaching e-newsletter. Click here to sign up and get free rugby drills and skills twice a week.

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