Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Forces Tackle Maul; Tactic under Spotlight before the World Cup

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Sunday (Maroochydore, Australia)

Forces Tackle Maul; Tactic under Spotlight before the World Cup

Article excerpt

Byline: Gregor Paul

RUGBY UNION: Rugby's leading international coaches have agreed the World Cup is in danger of being ruined by endless rolling mauls.

They have also agreed -- and been supported by World Rugby officials -- that something needs to be done ahead of the tournament to clear up what is legal and what is not.

Use of the rolling maul has increased dramatically in Super Rugby this year and been the most contentious area in law application and interpretation.

Players, coaches and fans have been left bewildered by the inconsistency of referees and yet, almost paradoxically, some teams are choosing to maul more than they ever have to try to exploit what has become a giant grey area.

Attacking sides have seemingly been able to get away with players joining the maul in front of the ball and forming what used to be known as a "flying wedge".

Given the likely weather at the World Cup in the UK later this year, the intensity and nature of knock-out rugby and the inherent strengths of countries such as England, South Africa and Ireland, the rolling maul has the potential to become the default option at attacking line-outs, turning games into a refereeing lottery.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who attended the recent World Rugby law review meeting, said: "There is agreement that we have to do something about it.

"There is a lack of clarity in the game and the fact that there are definitions sent out every two months clarifying various things highlights that.

"What was clear from the recent law review meeting is that the likes of Joel Jutge (World Rugby referees' high-performance manager) and John Jeffrey (World Rugby chairman of the rugby committee) both have concerns about the rolling maul as well.

"So the problem is acknowledged by those right at the top of the game and there is agreement that we need greater clarity about what is legal and what is not.

"Everyone is hoping that we can get on top of this otherwise we are going to see a lot of it at the World Cup and it's probably not going to be particularly exciting for the fans as it's just not a fair contest. …

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