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So this is an odd one which no one I've asked can actually answer. In all scenarios the second row immediately turns to face his teammates.

Scenario 1

The second row catches the ball from a lineout. The opposition grab him. His forwards form around him and the ball is smuggled to the back. A maul is formed.

Scenario 2

The second row catches the ball from a lineout. The opposition remain a yard back from him. His forwards form around him and the ball is smuggled to the back. They then maul forward into the opposition and the referee pings them for "Truck and Trailer".

These two scenarios are relatively common and are understood.

Scenario 3 (As seen during the recent opening round of the rugby World Cup)

The second row catches the ball from a lineout. The opposition remain a yard back from him. His forwards form around him. Recognising that he has not been tackled he holds on to the ball and, while making eye contact with the ref, starts shouting "I still have the ball". Avoiding the previous potential for offside (accidental or otherwise) the players begin to trundle forward. One of the defenders now performs a chop tackle on the second row who still has the ball, taking him down and, by proxy, a number of the other forwards driving in. The referee, in this game, immediately blew for an infringement by the defender.

My question is, how is this "bringing down a maul" if the maul has not yet been formed. Surely this is no different to a player running at the defensive line with a support runner driving into the defenders alongside?

  • For avoidance of doubt: was the infringement definitely "bringing down the maul" rather than some other offence? – Philip Kendall Sep 24 '15 at 14:12
  • Yes it was.....according to the graphic next to the score presented by the broadcaster. – Chris Harland Sep 24 '15 at 15:34
  • Do you recall which match it was and roughly when it occurred ? – imc Sep 27 '15 at 14:33
  • I think it may have been the England Fiji game, but couldn't be 100% on that. I've watched a lot of rugby in the past fortnight or so. – Chris Harland Oct 1 '15 at 8:58
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Chris, to answer your question, perhaps the sir felt that since the defender charged the offensive player being mauled (and acted alone), the defender had no intention of properly countering the maul. Tackling a player being mauled so that this player trips, and subsequently trips those mauling him is a bad idea, and a good way to make sir feel as if you're intentionally trying to wreck a maul. Had the defender gone a bit higher in the tackle, and allowed his teammates time to come and help properly counter the maul, perhaps the defending team could've forced a turnover and a restart.

Personally, in some of the games that I've played in, I've seen defenders from my team, simply stay away from the maul, and send a single defender across the game line to steal the ball (because if there is no contest to the maul, then there is no offsides line at the maul).

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