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Six weeks into the 2010 Super 14 tournament, the NSW Waratahs are in the top four. But is this elevated position a case of flattering only to deceive?

Spiro Zavos writes for Roar that the other three leading sides are there without any qualms about whether they’ve been promoted above the level of their abilities. Can we say the same about the Waratahs?

The Bulls are the unbeat-a-Bulls at Pretoria. They have won 15 Super 14 matches on the trot at home. New Zealand rugby writers are beginning to wonder whether the team are the new Crusaders, the second Super Rugby dynasty since the tournament started in 1996.

They started the season blowing away South African, Australian and New Zealand sides by taking the ball up hard from first phase play and then setting up their big runners from second phase play.

But against the revitalised Hurricanes they went back to their traditional game of booting up-and-unders or launching driving mauls. These are tactics that the new interpretations have supposedly de-powered this season. But if referees allow kicking teams to take catchers out (in the pretence of playing at the ball) or allowing any number of stoppages for driving mauls until there is no other option but to drop it down, the Bulls will remain unbeatable.

There should be a call now, as well, to referees to be really strict on teams forming the maul at the lineout, something that the hapless Paul Mark actually got right and was (unfairly) disciplined as a consequence. Also, there should be no leeway when the maul stops.

The point here is that the maul goes against the most important principle of rugby in that there should be a continual contest for the ball. There can be no contest if the ball is parked down the back of the maul, with the bound forwards in front of it technically off-side. Defending sides should be rewarded for stopping the maul, which is the only real defence against it.

The issue for the Bulls is whether they can transport their Pretoria game, which is best played at altitude, to Australia and New Zealand. When they play the Western Force in Perth we should get an idea of just how unbeatable the team really is.

This presumes that the Western Force will play as determinedly as they did against the Waratahs. You can’t help thinking, though, watching the Western Force that there are still issues between the majority of the players and the coach.

The team desperately needs a new and Australian coach who will hopefully drop Nathan Sharpe as captain and build a new squad around David Pocock as captain and a number of the younger players.

This brings us to the Waratahs and another team, I believe, that certainly needs a new coach and new captain to replace Phil Waugh (this is sacrilege, I know).

After the match, Waugh said one of the only interesting things I’ve ever heard a player or a coach say in those idiotic on-field interviews. ‘We probably didn’t kick enough in the first half,’ he noted when he was asked about the way the match went and the strong effort put up by the Western Force.

The kicking by Berrick Barnes and others was actually quite good. Generally it was for field position. But you don’t score tries and put pressure on other sides by kicking the ball to them. Gossip has it, though, that Waugh is the leader of the kicking tactics.

It must drive forwards crazy when they fight to win some possession only to have a back boot the ball to the opposition. And under the new interpretations – except for when the South African Jaco Peyser is refereeing – teams can hold on to the ball for long periods of time and mount sustained attacks once they get hold of it.

Peyser ensured a Waratahs victory when he penalised the Western Force several times on the Waratahs tryline when Waugh was blatantly grabbing the ball before the tackled player could play it.

Thankfully, Luke Burgess has rid himself of his kicking habit. But like a smoker who alleviates his cravings with fast food, he now runs excessively across the field before passing. This is almost as bad (but at least the ball is not delivered to the opposition) as kicking the ball away. A number of Waratahs players are carrying injuries and bruises from the hospital passes delivered to them by Burgess.

The Waratahs coach, Chris Hickey, will be under pressure if his side doesn’t make the finals. I always believe that 90 per cent of good coaching lies in accurate selecting. Hickey seems to have got the forwards right. This is a plus for him. The Waratahs pack, especially the loose forwards, have a bit of mongrel and an appetite for the rampage about them.

But the backs are a mess. They did not create or make one line break against the Western Force. Nor did they look like making such a break. Last week I called for the immediate introduction into the starting back line of Josh Holmes, Rob Horne and Kurtley Beale. Surely this has to happen next week.

The halves do not have much energy in engaging the opposition loose forwards, in contrast with Will Genia and Quade Cooper of the Reds.

With Berrick Barnes and Tom Carter in the centres there is not much penetration and too much plod, especially from Carter.

Drew Mitchell is playing splendidly. But he is a one-man band in the back three. There is no guile or real pace from Sosene Anesi. Lachlan Turner is coasting. He had one run out of trouble against the Western Force. But he is too willing to kick the ball away rather than bolt away with it. He does not seem to be involved in any set movements, either.

But then the Waratahs backline does not appear to have many moves in its bag of tricks. They occasionally shovel the ball along the line and appear to hope that something will happen.

This gets us back to the coaching staff. You could say that Michael Foley has done an excellent job with the forwards, that Scott Wisemantel, the skills coach, needs to get the backs playing smarter and more constructive rugby, and Chris Hickey needs to start selecting a side that reflects the best of the talent in his squad.

The obvious answer to all of this, of course, is to say: ‘We can’t be doing too much wrong if we are in the top four.’ Winners are grinners, as the adage says.

But can the Waratahs keep on winning with their present pedestrian style?

On Saturday night against the Blues we will get a better indication of what the answer is to this question. The Blues are an erratic team but against the ACT Brumbies at Eden Park they played more effectively than they have for some time. Rene Ranger proved too much for the Brumbies outside backs to handle.

If Ranger can be kept in check and if the backs play with the pace, efficiency and skill of the forwards, the Waratahs can entrench themselves in their top four placing, a nice position to hold in the run in to the finals.

Will this happen, though?

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141 COMMENTS

  1. The point here is that the maul goes against the most important principle of rugby in that there should be a continual contest for the ball. There can be no contest if the ball is parked down the back of the maul, with the bound forwards in front of it technically off-side. Defending sides should be rewarded for stopping the maul, which is the only real defence against it.

    Morne,

    He makes a good point here.

  2. Spiros is just like Campese… neither is respected by their peers for the analysis… so both make noise…

  3. Maul makes rugby union what it is = change it and lose most of the fans! Take away the maul then you can just as well take away the contest at the ruck and the line-out. Don’t bother pushing at the scrum either! :cuckoo:

    PS: Maul is the MOST EFFECTIVE way to draw in defending players to create space out wide to attack! Hence Maul is the only means left that promotes RUNNING rugby!

  4. Reply to JT @ 8:49 am:

    “Maul makes rugby union what it is = change it and lose most of the fans! ”

    Wow!!!!!

    How sure are you about that one?

    Or is it rather a case of you will lose the old forwards that don’t understand the rest of the game?

  5. Reply to Deon @ 7:20 am:

    As one team attempts to maintain continuity of possession, the opposing
    team strives to contest for possession. This provides the essential
    balance
    between continuity of play and continuity of possession. This
    balance of contestability and continuity applies to both set piece and
    general play.

    Foul Play:

    Foul play is anything a player does within the playing enclosure that is against
    the letter and spirit of the Laws of the Game. It includes obstruction, unfair play,
    repeated infringements, dangerous play and misconduct which is prejudicial to
    the Game.

    Law 10.1

    (c) Blocking the tackler. A player must not intentionally move or stand in a position that
    prevents an opponent from tackling a ball carrier.

    Sanction: Penalty kick
    (d) Blocking the ball. A player must not intentionally move or stand in a position that prevents
    an opponent from playing the ball.

    Sanction: Penalty kick

    Funnily enough, there are laws for the ‘flying wedge’ which in definition, is pretty similar to a maul with the exception that it does not start from a line-out most of the time…

    Legalised obstruction.

    Been saying it for years now.

    Back then I was accused of being a WP idiot because they could not ‘master the art’, wonder what I will be called today since they are one of the best at it…

  6. Reply to JT @ 8:49 am:

    That is utter rubbish.

    There are hundreds of things to ‘draw defenses’ in the game of union.

    Scrumming, line-outs, effective building of phases and controlling of rucks and the tackled area, lines of running and manipulation of defensive lines, effective kicking – all if done correctly displacing set defensive lines, or drawing in of defenses depending on how you manage it – but it requires a bit of a higher IQ than simple legalised obstruction.

  7. Reply to Morné @ 10:19 am:
    Reply to Morné @ 10:14 am:

    I disagree – duh! It is back-line fairies that do not understand the mechanics of the Maul that are against it. Setting up a maul is as difficult as defending against it. It is a skill that you work on and takes years to perfect! There are ways to combat the maul, 1 – don’t let it start! 2 – commit defenders and push it back!

    Anyway – fok julle ek moet gaan werk! : bigfinger:
    If the maul goes I will start a new rugby code! And add rucking

  8. Reply to JT @ 10:26 am:

    Sometime in the early 19th century where the laws of rugby union was born…

    Backline Fairies on rugby:

    Let’s use skill and talent to keep possession, outsmart defenses and score points to win a game of rugby union!

    Forwards on rugby:

    Let’s hide the ball between 5 or 7 of our biggest guys, make it impossible for defenses to contest for the ball or tackle the ball carrier and score points to win a game of rugby union!

    Yup you are right, makes perfect sense and what rugby union should be about!

  9. Reply to Morné @ 10:14 am:

    Hehehe,

    That is why I posted this. I agree. Defeats the purpose of the game. How can you contest for the ball if you can get to it?

    Just unimaginative game plans that depends on the maul to gain ascendancy. And then some of the refs do not understand the laws either. The Bulls should have been blown many a times for truck & trailer this past weekend. It doesn’t matter if the maul was started correctly, the moment that no opposition player is bound in front of it, it is tickets.

    And then I see they are complaining about Walsh. They should thank their stars for him.

  10. Reply to Morné @ 10:14 am:

    Another law that I see is being ignored this year is the supporting player binding on the player with the ball before he makes contact with the opposition.

    Can’t remember now if it is the same one that governs the flying wedge.

  11. Reply to JT @ 10:46 am:

    The ball is not in hand and the laws governing the scrum ensure that it is a fair contest. Have to scrum straight, no hands, etc.

    Total different story.

  12. More tries have been scored from fast set-pieces(line-outs) last year in SA triumph in the 3N than from mauls.

    The maul is just a manner for teams to force a penalty because they know the maul is difficult to stop.

    i do not want to go to stadium paying big money to see some fat guys smelling one other arsh….we already have a fokop in the scrums

  13. How easy will it be to keep the maul and make it a contest for the ball?

    Let’s see if you back-line fairies can figure that one out ???

  14. Reply to JT @ 10:55 am:

    Fuck if the maul is the only difference, then we have been watching it for a few years as mauls have been very rarely used the last couple of years.

  15. Reply to JT @ 10:36 am:

    I hate Sevens, useless code of the game.

    Reply to JT @ 10:46 am:

    Ah the old ‘scrum is also obstruction’ argument…

    Firstly, a scrum is a means to ‘restart’ the game of union.

    Secondly, the ball is not ‘handled’ in the scrum.

    Thirdly, the opposition is allowed to follow the ball around the scrum (scrummy) without being called offside.

    Fourthly, the scrummy may tackle or play the ball as soon as it leaves the scrum, or is handled by the attacking team.

    Fifthly, and finally, a maul follows on from something preceeding it in open play – quite different from a scrum situation.

    But I did expect a forward to try and defend legalised obstruction with a scrum theory – only they could come up with something like that…

    Reply to Deon @ 10:44 am:

    It is indeed, you are not allowed to bind onto a player before he makes contact – under the flying wedge law – there is no set numbers to what constitutes a flying wedge so two is also against the law.

  16. Reply to The Brand @ 10:50 am:

    Quite easy, only allow the ball carrier to stay in front of a maul (that forms behind him) and not hide him behind 7 players – this will see the opposition being able to contest the ball and allow the attacking team to form a maul and move forward, using some skill for a change to keep possession…

  17. If the maul is kept, then I will accept it if the laws are:

    If it stops, 5 seconds or your lose the ball. No bullshit of getting a second chance. The same way they judge a maul resulting from the tackle situation.

    This crap of getting a second chance is nonsense, If you want to use it, then perfect it or leave it. No half arse.

  18. Reply to Morné @ 10:56 am:

    Correction, they do not specify numbers, but just say ‘team mates’ in the plural binding onto the player forming a wedge, often, not always, in front of the ball carrier.

    So it seems to suggest two or more…

  19. The problem I have with the maul is that you will see a player take the ball and move to the back……the opposition will counter it and the ball carrier will get closer to the front just to have his team mates form with him again and move to the back.

    And how many times do we need a ref to shout use it.

    1. If the you want to keep the maul let them have one go.
    2. The opposition must be allowed to go through the mail and and take out any player in-front of the ball carrier.
    3. Both shoulders of the ball carrier must be touching the player in-front of him.

    At least then you can have a counter for it…I can see how the game is gonna be spoiled by teams in WC with heavy wet fields in NZ. This WC will not be a spectacle.

  20. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 11:08 am:

    The players are allowed to go through the middle, but it is a pretty impossible task unless you can get hold of the ball carrier from the start.

    The law states that the other players must join from behind or next to the ball carrier, but that only happens at the beginning. As you stated once the ball carrier is at the back they do join infron of him or between him and the rest of the maul. The latter many times result in the ball carrier actually losing his binding to the maul, but most of the refs allow it.

  21. Reply to Deon @ 11:16 am:

    As long as it is not the effen Poms.

    I would love it if the French can win it. And lets face it, they just love playing in NZ. AND they have the All Blacks’ number when it comes to WC’s.

  22. Reply to Deon @ 11:00 am:

    I can live with that – 5 sec use it or lose it!

    Apply the laws to the letter and we will have no problem. Creating a maul is very easy to understand according to the law. Sharks in the Tahs game for example had the last move of the game and wanted to create a maul from the line-out – ref IMO go it exactly right because the lifter got in between the ball carrier (jumper) and opposition. Obstruction.

    I guess we agree more than we would like to admit – banning the maul is just being said by SSL to get us forwards riled up and in the judger mindset. Sorry boet – not that easily

  23. Reply to Deon @ 11:04 am:

    are you talking about the “rocket ball” used by the bulls? Where a player is bound to the ball carrier to give EXTRA momentum. That IMO is illegal = flying wedge, even though it is a small wedgie

  24. Reply to JT @ 11:18 am:

    Yip the laws are pretty clear, but it is not reffed that way. I would have nailed the Bulls this past weekend. They got it wrong many a times.

  25. Reply to Morné @ 11:00 am:

    Well done Morne.

    Maybe before your time, but that was how we mauled in the good old days.
    The person with the ball was infront – the rest bonded in several possible ways to him in order to protect him and the ball – being infornt.

    How easy is THAT

    Thought Deon would never ever get it . . . . . . :whistling:

  26. Seems a bit early for old Spiro to be comparing the Bulls with the Crusaders. They are short a good few Super rugby titles and a heap of away wins before those sort of comparisons are made. Spiro must be getting intimidated by the Loftus crowd.

    The conclusion reached by experts on Radio Sport in NZ today was that Dingo Walsh had a bad game on Saturday and failed to blow up the truck and trailering by the Bulls because he lost his way in the one-eyed frenzy of Loftus. He is trying so hard to do the right thing in the eyes of the crowd that he ends up adding more advantages to the home side, so they say.

  27. Reply to out wide @ 11:44 am:

    I agree on Walsh, though I will not speculate on the reasons. He messed up the maul laws completely. For the rest I thought he had a very solid game. I don;t see why so many have problems with him. At least he was consistent in his incorrect interpretations. The Canes should have played to this. Their screw up for not reading the ref and playing to it.

    It was quite amusing to read that the Boere in Tswane complaining about him while the Bulls got the advantage from it.

  28. Reply to Deon @ 11:58 am: Week 1 and 2 is different than week 6…..do you guys know how to read??

    The Cheetahs had lost the edge in the second half…like Naka said they did not even went with the game plan. The lost two guys in the lose trio and the were against the ropes. But what pisswed me off of the Stormers was that they cloud not after 6 weeks in the S14 buried a team that was down and out. I excepted it in week one two and three but not in week six. This were the Bulls are miles before any other team.

  29. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 12:04 pm:

    Think you are being a bit harsh on the Stormers… Cheetah’s defensive lines have been much better this year… even with a few injuries they are difficult to ‘bury’… particularly in the first half of the comp…

  30. Reply to Deon @ 12:07 pm: That is just a stupid argument. A team like the Stormers has come from ending 10 lat year in winning 5 out of six games this year. But what I want to see from any team is growth. The Bulls is also falling in the same boat as the Stormers. I would want to see improvement each week in the game to see that they are learning.

    And if you seen enough from the Stormers in the past…how can you compare it with the team now???

  31. Look at the log. 2 BP’s more would have put them 1 infront of the Bulls. Bulls have game in hand and thus after the bye they could have max been 4 points behind Bulls.

    This will keep the pressure on the Bulls and other teams chasing.

    Simple habit if “starting with the end in mind”

  32. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 12:10 pm: The Cheetahs did have a good defensive line but they went to piece in the second half. Although I believe we had lost some in Pieter not playing. But I counted about 6 times were they should have scored in the second half. A team like the Bulls and Saders would have done that.

  33. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 12:14 pm:

    The Stormers of the past had their chances and messed it up, by not scoring those bonus points.

    If the Bulls know the Stormers are within striking distance, they will feel the pressure. One slip up on tour and they end up 2nd. Now they have a cushion of atleast 5 points after this coming weekend. Even if they slip up one and the Stormers fail to get 5 in that same weekend, the worse they will be is still no 1.

    The tournament is the war. The games are the battles. You need to get maximum advantage from each battle if the opportunity offers itself.

  34. Reply to Deon @ 12:15 pm: You not listening to what I am saying. I did not expect them to score 4 tries in the beginning of the S14….They had a new midfield…new scrumhalf and flyhalf combination. They got Brain as well. But after week six i do expect them t9o convert opportunity’s into points which they did not do against the Cheetahs.

    To be were they are on the log are already a achievement on it self and I am happy with that, I would just like them NOW to start playing like a team that can win any team any place…..like the Bulls.

  35. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 12:23 pm:

    New scrumhalf & flyahlf combination?

    I didn’t see much of the CC last year, but I am pretty sure these guys have been playing together for a while.

    As for new midfield, so have the Bulls with Pretorius out. Also a rookie on the wing.

    The rest pretty much the same.

  36. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 12:23 pm:

    They had a new 9,10,12,13 combo this week too?

    A quick look at the stats from the last 4 try game and the last… the above combo in fact made more ‘play-making’ passes… Cheetahs defence just good… particularly with guys the two props, Struass and Smith everywhere…

    Even Knokwe and Demas are mcuh stronger in the tackle this year…

  37. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 12:23 pm:

    A team that could win any place? Lets see after the tour. Stormers have the better record of the two, so maybe the BP’s won;t matter. The trick for the Stormers are to not having too much riding on the last game in week 14. They are like the All Blacks in the WC in that situation. Chokers.

  38. We are arguing about something that means nothing this year.

    Bulls 4 Bonus after 5 games
    Stormers 3 Bonus after 6 games
    Saders 3 Bonus points after 6 games
    Tahs 3 Bonus points after 6 games
    Brumbies 1 Bonus points after 6 games

    These are your top 5. All in the same boat this year

    The team with the most Bonus points Bulls, Chiefs and Sharks

    Bulls nr 1 with 24 points, Chiefs nr 6 with 16 points and the Sharks nr 11 with 8 points.

  39. …and to the question in this article:”Do the Waratahs deserve no 4?” yes the one with the most log points at the end of the season plays in the semi finals, does not matter how they got there, they just need to get here

  40. The maul is beautiful thing.

    It is complex, dynamic, fluid. It involves, for both the attacking and the defending teams, coordination between four or more players.

    Just like with mathematics, complexity is what makes both beautiful and hard to grasp.

    People normally respond to things they do not understand with fear and loathing.

  41. The only mistake Walsh made was not carding more Hurricanes for their repeated deliberate infringements.

    SUCCESSFUL END TO A MAUL
    A maul ends successfully when :
    • the ball or a player with the ball leaves the maul
    • the ball is on the ground
    • the ball is on or over the goal line.

    Note that once a maul has formed, the defense cannot force it to end by disengaging.

  42. I suggest you approach it like classical music.

    Even if it sounds like too many notes at first, just enjoy and believe that it is beautiful.
    Eventually your brain will form the needed connections.

  43. Reply to fyndraai @ 1:38 pm:

    Understanding it is easy:

    Catch the ball, make contact with opposition, and then as quickly as possible transfer the ball as far away from the opposition putting as many of your own team mates between them and the ball carrier.

  44. “How” you do it, is the ‘skill’ you guys refer to, but ‘doing’ it is as simple as monkey sees a gap, monkey takes the gap.

  45. Reply to fyndraai @ 1:38 pm:

    Thing is… ‘schock horror’… one thing point of Spiro’s I do agree with and does rile me… is when you see poetry in motion with maul rolling forward… defenders sucked in… only for the ball to come out the back and be booted into the hands of the opposition…

  46. Pushing back the opponents scrum does not work anymore since they will just collapse it or stand up. Both tactics are illegal but easy to get away with.

    The maul is the last vestige of forwards pushing each other back. A test of collective power.
    Its hard to get away with cheating, hence the howling from down under.

    The Stormers, Sharks and Bulls have all been using the maul successfully this year. It is a South African strength.

  47. Reply to Morné @ 2:39 pm:

    I realise that – but often you see the opposition pulling – off – and then the ball-carriers stop in their track.

    Waiting waitng until an oppo cave in and re-engage and only then do the ball-carriers proceed forward.

    The insight from Fyndraai is that even when the ALL the oppo pulls out of engagement AFTER the maul developed correctly – then the ball-carriers can run as fast as possible forward and it can NEVER then be truck-and-trailer ONCE maul was formed effectively beforehand.

  48. Reply to The Brand @ 3:23 pm:

    but if the maul breaks apart (where the front “runners” break off and take the defenders with them) the “new” maul is indeed a new maul and ilegal due to the truck and trailer issue.

    That is what Walsh did not ref correctly IMO.

  49. Reply to The Brand @ 3:23 pm:

    You have to be very careful on how you define it.

    If the ball carrier, or people supporting him leaves (breaks off) in any way from the original maul, a new maul if formed.

    Refs get this wrong a lot.

  50. @Morne/Deon – the problem you guys have with the maul seems to be how it is refereed and is not that a maul is part of the game – am I correct in this assessment?

  51. Reply to JT @ 4:17 pm:

    Give players a fair shot at competing for the ball, or competing against the ball carrier, currently a maul obstructs them from doing it.

    Read Brand’s response to how we both believe the ball carrier must be at the front of the maul, not the back hiding behind his own team mates.

  52. Reply to Morné @ 4:19 pm:

    at the creation of the maul I can agree but after the maul is created you can move the ball to the back to hand it over to the moffies who monkey see gap, monkey run at gap.

    But there is not much better to witness than a perfectly executed rolling maul!

  53. The contest is in pushing the opponents back. Just like in the scrum or the ruck.

    If the ball is under feet of the eight in the scrum, the opposing 9 can stand there but cannot touch it. The opposing forwards are only allowed to push back. They may not stand up, the may not collapse.

    The fact that they do and often gets away with it is against the spirit of the contest.

    The great thing about the current maul laws are that the defenders are being forced to defend it in the spirit of the contest. They must bind and push back.

  54. Reply to JT @ 4:23 pm:

    How can you contest something (the ball) if it is obstructed from you?

    I think you need to re-define dof!

    Reply to fyndraai @ 4:34 pm:

    A scrum is a RESTART in rugby, as is a kick-off, line-out etc.

    NO-ONE is allowed to PLAY the ball or HANDLE the ball while still in the scrum. Not even the team putting it in.

    The scrummy however is in a position to directly play the ball, or ball carrier (opposing 9 or 8 in most instances) once the ball is out of the scrum. This does not happen in a maul.

    A maul is NOT a method of restarting anything in rugby, it is a continuation of open play, and in OPEN PLAY there must at all times be a fair contest for the ball – in a maul, the opposition team is obstructed from playing the ball carrier = no fair contest.

    Is it really that hard for forwards to understand???

  55. Reply to fyndraai @ 4:34 pm:

    In a ruck it is similar, NO-ONE is allowed to handle the ball in a ruck, from either team, this gives each team an equal opportunity to push or ruck over the ball, to win the ball = fair contest of and for the ball!

    In a maul, the ball is being handled, and obstructed from the opposition team and players = i.e. no fair contest no matter how much you push or shove.

  56. ATTENTION DAWIE:

    Since you have a line to
    Watson (the ref, not the
    doos):
    How about taking up the
    maul with him at the hand
    of what is being said here?

    That will be really nice, not?

  57. Reply to Morné @ 4:18 pm:
    That is such a nonsense statement.

    Something is only illegal if the laws makes it so.

    Setpieces and open play play are fundamentally different= and have different sets of laws.

    In open play off-side is simple. Each setpiece has a number of complicated off-side lines.

    In open play obstruction is defined. Players that form part of a scrum, ruck or maul by definition cannot be obstructing.

  58. Reply to fyndraai @ 4:50 pm:

    Excuse me but who argued with the example of a scrum to defend the current debate of obstruction at the maul?

    Of course the laws are different because it is different sets of play and instances.

    There is however no OBSTRUCTION of the ball at the scrum, under the current laws as JT is trying to argue and what you have just proven.

    The argument is about a fair contest for the ball, where opposition is not obstructed to compete for the ball.

    Simple.

    And quite simply, the only reason mauls are effective is because the opposition is directly obstructed from competing for the ball directly, and not through a melee of bodies obstructing them to do so.

  59. Reply to fyndraai @ 4:50 pm:

    Jip. If the maul is obstruction,
    so must the ruck be =
    Ball is out, 9 looking around,
    gesticulating – yet the oppo is
    obstructed from getting to him.
    Ditto in a controlled scrum.

  60. The best argument I have heard so far to defend a maul in rugby is; “It is what makes rugby union unique”.

    The rest is hogwash.

  61. Reply to Boertjie @ 4:55 pm:

    If the ball is out of a ruck anyone can play it.

    Don’t confuse kak calls by refs with the actual situation.

    Law states if a ball is out any player coming from an onside position may play the ball.

    Same for a scrum.

    It is the referee’s interpretation however is a ball is out or not.

  62. Reply to Morné @ 4:55 pm:

    There is however no OBSTRUCTION of the ball at the scrum,
    ========
    Neither at the maul – according
    to the current laws in play.

    Why do you keep on farting
    against thunder?

  63. Reply to Morné @ 4:45 pm:
    Typical presumptions by backs:

    “Scrum is only a way to restart the game and not part of it.” -wrong.
    The scrum is part of forward play. Those who want it to be a restart only opted for the tap-kick a 100 years ago.

    “To play the ball you have top handle it.” – Wrong.
    You can also play the ball by kicking, dribbling, pushing over it or pushing the ball carrier back.

  64. Reply to Morné @ 4:58 pm:

    So why don’t they play the ball?
    Why don’t refs call “Ball is out!”

    Does the oppo then still have
    to com through the “gate”?

    This is one of the most slowing
    down passages in the game.

  65. Apart from the obvious obstruction at mauls, the actual definition of when the ball is out (in the case of a maul when it has broken up) is also policed poorly.

    There are clear definitions for binding (keeping a maul going), which clearly states that it has to be with the whole arm up to the shoulder, not just a hand on someones ass.

    Apart from that, when players peel off and re-bind to the maul, they do so ‘joining’ or binding to the maul in-front of the ball carrier who is carrying the ball again putting their bodies between the ball carrier and the opposition trying to drive through the middle – whereas they should bind from behind, transferring the ball continuously to the back but of course, this increases the risk for mistakes and dropping the ball…

  66. Reply to fyndraai @ 4:58 pm:

    Uhm, please indicate to me where I said the scrum is not part of rugby?

    The only reference to the scrum I am making is simple, the opposition has a fair chance to contest for the ball, they are not obstructed.

    And as for your second part…

    So kicking is not handling?

    But again that is not the point.

    Please read again what I am saying:

    Rugby is about a fair contest for the ball!…

    In rucks, scrums, line-outs and every other instance in the game, this is the case – except of course for the above…

  67. Reply to Boertjie @ 5:03 pm:

    As for the ball being out at the ruck, you are onside when coming through the gate and driving through the middle, as well as being behind the last man’s feet at the ruck on your side which means if the ball is out, you can come in around the ruck (not having to be bound or part of it) and play the ball if it is out.

  68. Reply to Morné @ 4:55 pm:

    According to the scrum laws:

    A team may keep the ball in a scrum and push it all the way across the field. Seven players may be in front of the ball the whole time.

    The opposing 9 may follow the ball but he may not contest for it in any way while it is in the scrum.

    The opposing forwards may not stand up or collapse the scrum. The only legal way to contest is to push back.

    The principle of the maul laws are similar, the difference is that teams get away with cheating at the scrum.

  69. Let’s make this quite simple with one easy question…

    In a maul, is the opposition obstructed from playing/contesting for the ball, or the ball carrier directly by the ball carrier’s own team mates? Yes or No?

    In other words, other than a scrum or a ruck, where no-one is allowed to handle the ball whilst that phase is in progress, i.e. equal and fair contest (you can shove, push and counter ruck to win the ball legally), why is it that in a maul, one team is allowed to handle the ball, and the opposition may not contest him or the ball directly?

  70. Reply to fyndraai @ 5:08 pm:
    A team may keep the ball in a scrum and push it all the way across the field. Seven players may be in front of the ball the whole time.
    ________________________________________
    That’s a kak comparison and you know it.

  71. Reply to fyndraai @ 5:08 pm:

    The big difference is that in a scrum, NO-ONE is allowed to ‘handle’ the ball, in a maul, you are, and it is the only instance in rugby union where you are not allowed to tackle a player who has possession of the ball in his hands.

    it is daft.

  72. Impossible to argue with somebody that knows what you know even without you knowing it yourself.

    I have to give up.

    Cheers.

    Enjoy the varsity cup thingy.

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