MANY fans feel stumped when switching from watching a game with a round ball to an oval one, especially when it comes to certain tricky aspects of the sport.
Mauls in particular are one element that can leave casual pub-going spectators scratching their heads.
But fear not, this explainer will help show that they are slightly more than just well-organised brawls, well most of the time…
What is the point of a maul?
The theory behind them is that they allow teams to compete for a ball while it is still being held off the ground.
The carrier and at least one player from each opposing team bind while standing.
Anyone snatching the ball away from the player holding it must also stay touching that player until they have passed it.
Any time a maul is formed it must always move towards a goal line.
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When can a player join a maul?
Any player joining can only do so from behind and with their heads and shoulders no lower than their hips.
The ball-carrier is the only player who is allowed to go to ground – but they must also make the ball available straight away.
It can appear like it is an unseemly scrap but it is a vital part of the game.
Why are penalties given during a maul?
A penalty is awarded if a player intentionally collapses a maul, jumps on top of it, or attempts to drag an opponent out of a maul.
Bad injuries are certainly not unknown.
When a maul has stopped moving towards a goal line, it must restart within five seconds.
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Normal play can restart when either the ball or the carrier leaves the maul.
Alternatively, if the ball is on the ground, or over the goal line.
However they can also end in failure if the ball is made unplayable, it collapses, it stops moving, or the ball is not ‘used’ after the carrier goes to ground.