Monday, 16 May 2011

Rugby Union Gameplay - The Ruck and Maul

The Ruck
The ruck is a fundamental part of rugby union and it is where flankers earn their crust. A ruck occurs after a player is tackled and at least one player from each team make contact with one another in order to shove the opposing player away from the ball. Once a ruck is formed neither player is allowed to play the ball with their hands on the ground but instead have to drive the opposing player away from the ball and and free the ball by 'rucking' the ball with their feet. It is the job of the flankers to follow play and compete for the ball at rucks.  Other players can join the ruck to help force the other players away from the ball. A player has to join the ruck from the hindmost foot of the last team-mate in the ruck. This is called 'arriving through the gate'. If a player arrives into a ruck from the side of the ruck a penalty is awarded to the opposite team.

For safety reasons and to allow play to flow faster players have to try to remain standing in a ruck. If players go off their feet or dive into a ruck the referee can award a penalty to the other team. The scrumhalf is usually the player to play the ball from the ruck and has to be allowed to do so by the other team. to pull the scrumhalf into the ruck, this action would also result in a penalty to the other team.

The Maul 
A maul is formed when the player that was tackled is held up and players from both teams come in to shove the tackled player and the tackler to gain as much territory for their team as possible. The ball remains in the players hands and is a very powerful offensive move. It can take a lot of defenders to stop a maul advancing leaving the defensive teams defence short on numbers in the wider channels. The maul follows similar principles to the ruck. Players have to enter the maul from the hindmost foot of their last team-mate already in the maul. Once a maul is formed the defending team cannot drag down the maul but can gain a turnover if the attacking team fail to use the possession.

A maul can be formed off a ruck when the player that is ball-carrying is supported by his team-mates shoving him from behind is meet by a group of opposition tacklers resulting in a maul. This is called a 'ruck and maul.'
The most common formation of the maul is off lineout ball. Below is a maul in action.

To learn more about the rules and gameplay rugby union, click one of the links below:

Ruby Union Gameplay and Rules

Rugby Union Videos