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JK's final whistle: Maul problems

rugby365 and Rate the Ref columnist Jonathan Kaplan takes a look at issues referees may face leading up to the World Cup in respect of the maul


The maul from a line-out is obviously a very strong weapon because it falls into the category of 'percentage rugby'. With that in mind and as the World Cup approaches there is a strong likelihood that this weapon will become more prevalent rather than less in the big games.


You will probably see even more mauling from the World Cup quarterfinals onwards as teams look to exploit this facet of the game.


It is very important that the sanctions are not only well thought-out, but that they are consistently applied.


I don't feel that there is consistency across the board for the thinking behind not only the defence of the maul, but maul formation as well. Both sides need to be refereed.


The attacking team should not be allowed to get away with certain minor or marginal infringements such as players joining ahead of the last line or ball-carrier.


If you are going to penalise the defence for players coming in from the side then you need to apply similar sanctions for the ball-carriers.


If a team goes up and collects the ball at a line-out and the defending team stands back, they are liable to penalty. 


If the ball-catching team transfers the ball to a ripper before contact is made, then they are liable to sanction (which has been determined as a scrum for accidental offsides).


If a team does not step away and the ball gets tranferred to the ripper, the offside line becomes the ball. If then the defending hooker comes around the side and engages from ahead of the ball which is an offside position he should be penalised. He can only join from behind the ball.


We as referees need to be careful not to allow the ball-carriers to get away with too much. 


The challenge this refereeing group faces is to find a balance so that good, accurate defence has a strong chance of combatting the maul.


By Jonathan Kaplan



For more of Kaplan's views visit his website Rate the Ref


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