Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rolling Maul Is Killing Top Flight Rugby

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rolling Maul Is Killing Top Flight Rugby

Article excerpt

Byline: By Duncan Madsen

The so-called rolling maul is a cancer which is in danger of threatening the very foundations of the success of modern professional rugby union.

The pragmatist may appreciate the ends justifying the means when a big pack grunts its way downfield in an incessant maul with the ball-carrier wedged in at the back protected by three or four rows of team-mates blocking in front of him.

Certainly Bath supporters must be used to this spectacle, and it undoubtedly worked for their team in Sunday's 9-5 Premiership victory at Kingston Park, but the seemingly endless Bath trundles clearly didn't go down well with the Falcons supporters who roundly booed the visitors ( and the referee ( off the field.

Like it or not, professional rugby is all about entertainment and an imitation of the Eton Wall game is not what the paying public wants.

As the laws currently stand, the advantage lies almost totally with the attacking side who are allowed to obstruct at will, while the defenders are denied any legitimate ploy of counter-acting as they cannot legally pull down or collapse the maul, nor come round the side of it to get at the ball carrier.

This is the only legalised form of obstruction allowed by referees ( and the quicker the lawmakers of the International Rugby Board outlaw it the better.

Until they do, we shall witness more of the same as the big packs like Bath, Leicester and Saracens throw gay abandon to the winds in a bid to strangle their opponents ( unless and until someone has the wit to put a stop to all this nonsense by using the laws as they currently stand to the defender's advantage.

To understand where I am coming from, a little knowledge of the laws themselves is required.

Law 22 states: `A maul, which can take place only in the field of play, is formed by one or more players from each team on their feet and in physical contact closing round a player who is carrying the ball. …

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