‘Allow teams to collapse maul’

Three coaches and three former players on whether there's a place for driving mauls in rugby and the Sharks' controversial disallowed try in Wellington.

John Mitchell (former All Blacks coach)

'The Sharks' lineout driving maul [which resulted in the disallowed try] was very similar to what Ireland and the Lions have done and got away with in the past. There is obstruction in the current form of lineout drives because the receiver gets squeezed back to the end of the tail. Having watched the Sharks' incident again in slow motion, I think the TMO was correct to rule obstruction, as Etienne Oosthuizen didn't appear to be attached to Beast Mtawarira when the maul shifted. It was a marginal call, though. The whole lineout drive issue would be cleared up if they went back to the old way of the receiver having to hand the ball back from the jumper.'

Ollie le Roux (former Bok prop)

'The driving maul definitely shouldn’t be taken out of the game, but the players have made it very difficult to stop once it’s been set. It’s an art; if you’ve got a good driving maul, it’s a great weapon to use. As soon as you bring in the changing lanes rule it becomes difficult, because opposition pressure can also make it seem like it’s happening. I would definitely have awarded the try to the Sharks on Saturday.'

Robbie Kempson (former Bok prop)

'The driving maul is legalised obstruction. They should, however, keep it in its current form, but allow the opposition to collapse it at any stage. The Sharks' try should have stood this weekend, purely because of the consistency of the application of the law. Top local refs like Craig Joubert and Jaco Peyper are blowing obstruction for half a metre shift, but foreign refs seem to be more lenient.'

Jimmy Stonehouse (former Pumas coach)

'The driving maul is obstruction and unfair on the defending team. To even things out, the defending team should be allowed to collapse the maul and if the ball is held up, a scrum should be given to the defending side. Marcell Coetzee's disallowed try against the Hurricanes should have been awarded, because they didn't change lanes. The Lions scored a similar try against the Highlanders and it stood.'

Pote Human (Tuks coach)

'Yes, there's an element of obstruction, but driving mauls are part of the game and they should keep it that way. The execution of these mauls is the tricky part. Certain teams use better skill than others because their players have a better understanding of the laws, which is why they succeed and use the maul as a strike weapon. The Sharks were hard done-by last Saturday. The officials got that call horribly wrong. As soon as the lineout jumper came down, the ball was shifted to the back and they mauled through the middle and that constitutes a try.'

Wayne Fyvie (former Bok flank)

'The driving maul is technically legalised obstruction, but it's part of the game and it wouldn't be right to ban it now. Teams that use lineout drives to good effect will be disadvantaged if that happens. In the Sharks' case against the Hurricanes, a try was scored. The ball-carrier was bound until he was over the tryline. It was the opposition players who swung the direction of the maul.'

Photo: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Post by

Mariette Adams