Bulls: Maul makes it a 'special' game
Bulls coach Frans Ludeke believes rugby should remain a game for all shapes and sizes and the maul is an integral part of the game.
Ludeke, speaking in a teleconference call after his team arrived in Napier on Thursday, defended his team's extensive use of the rolling maul as an attacking weapon.
Hurricanes coach Mark Hammett fired the first verbal barrage in the build-up to their Super Rugby showdown at McLean Park on Saturday when he told the New Zealand media that the Bulls' rolling maul is "illegal".
"The rolling maul is completely illegal in terms of how it's set up," Hammett told NZ Newswire.
"I've talked to refs numerous times, and numerous coaches have done as well, but it's something they're not prepared to change."
However, Ludeke said, the rolling maul is a key element of the game.
"The maul is part of rugby," he said from Napier, adding: "That is what it makes it such a special game, a game for all shapes and sizes, a game for all styles.
"Teams that like to carry the ball from all over the field, they can have a go.
"[Some] New Zealand sides, like the Crusaders and even the Highlanders, maul pretty well – that is part of the game."
Ludeke said he accepted Hammett's point about it having to be a 'fair contest' when you defend the maul.
"However, at the same time, teams that are effective at the maul would also like referees to make good decisions in terms of when you have set your maul and you are going that it can also work in your favour.
"It is a way of getting go-forward."
The Bulls mentor said they spend many hours on practicing mauls.
"Just like other teams spend hours on their attacking shape and running lines," Ludeke said.
"It is all about having a balanced gameplan as well.
"Sometimes it is wet and raining, then you can't carry the ball and you need to have an alternative option.
"You do need the maul in the game, you can't just always carry and run it – weather conditions don't always allow it."
Ludeke is adamant that his team is no one-dimensional and do have an allround game.
"We haven't been accurate in that [executing our game plan] and hopefully on tour we can be better in those areas – like carrying the ball, shaping the defence and having a go," he said.
The Bulls coach said his charges have coped well with the travel.
They left South Africa late on Tuesday, stayed over in Auckland on Wednesday and arrived in Napier on Thursday afternoon (New Zealand time).
By Jan de Koning