Coaching Tips and Advice with the Ruck and Maul

To the untrained eye, rucks and mauls may appear to be a chaotic scramble, however, there are strict structures and rules that govern the breakdown. To retain possession of the ball, players must forget about the number on their backs and focus solely on the situation in front of them. Whether back or forward, the first players to reach the breakdown must act to legally secure the ball.

Rucks and mauls are the ultimate contest of power and aggression, however ill discipline will cost teams valuable points.

Therefore the challenge lies in players maintaining cool heads during these unpredictable encounters.

Coaching Tips and Advice at the Ruck

A ruck is formed when the ball is taken to the ground and players from each side compete for possession while maintaining their footing. 

The number one priority is to protect that ball, so when an attacking player hits the ruck, their aim should be to advance beyond the ball. This minimises the risk of a counter ruck as it creates distance between the defenders and the ball. Body positioning is also very important when competing in the ruck. The lower a player’s hips and shoulders, the greater chance they have of cleaning out an opposing player.

Upon entering an attacking ruck, a player loses all rights to handle the ball, however they must resist the temptation to the play that ball on the ground, as multiple infringements will see them carded.

Coaching Tips and Advice at the Maul

A maul is formed when three players are bound together on their feet with the ball off the ground. Mauls often form in broken play when the opposing team attempts to hold the ball up off the ground and force the turnover. To prevent the turnover, the attacking side must show forward momentum.

The Maul is an effective attacking weapon when used off a lineout, close to the opposition line.

A combination of paired entry and clear communication allows a side to carve off precious metres, or even rumble over the goal line for a try.