Coaching Skills & Drills for 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 Skills & Drills for the breakdown

Technically, a ruck (also known as a breakdown) is formed when the rugby ball is on the ground, and players from each side compete for possession while maintaining their footing. 

In the modern game, the side that wins the contest at the breakdown typically wins the game. The ruck is also the most complex activity to get right. 

Click here for more detail on ruck drills, laws and advice or to learn how strapping tape can protect your players from injury at the breakdown. 

At the breakdown, the number one priority for the attacking team, the team in possession of the ball, is maintaining possession of the ball. 

On the other hand, the priorities of the defending team, the team without the ball, tend to be:

  • get turnover possession of the ball
  • slow the attacking team down
  • provide the attacking team with low-quality possession

To achieve their opposing objectives, the attacking and defending teams must navigate one of the most complex scenarios in rugby union. 

Click the learn more button below for detailed information on drills, skills development and advice on all things related to the breakdown (ruck).

Coaching Skills & Drills for 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.