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Order of operations for a maul.

I'm kicking around two different orders for creating mauls.

1) 3rd Man Rip

First supporters arrive and drive over rather than stripping ball. I like this one because it allows the supporters to join more quickly and keeps everything going forward. Because the original ball carrier keeps the ball until the 3rd man joins, this maul turns into a clean ruck very easily. I don't like this one because of the increased stress on the ball carrier to protect the ball, and the ball's slower movement to the back.

2) First man rip

First supporter arrives and strips, third and fourth drive over. I like this one because the ball is cleared from the front straight away. I don't like this one because it can fall and be a mess, as well as as lack forward momentum as the focus is put on the ball.

What do you think about the two ways of forming a maul? I've seen teams do both. Keep in mind I coach mainly older, new players.

Hi Josh,

Nice to see you back on line with us! Have you moved back to the States then?

In answer to your question re mauling - I am a firm advocate of the second method as I believe the first job should always be to secure the ball. Everything is secondary to that!

But perhaps other coaches out there have different views?


Yes, I've moved to the United States and taken a full time coaching position with American International College in Springfield, Massachusetts. They wanted to start a varsity model club from scratch, apparently I was the guy. Back to mauling, I learned the second way when I first began playing, but have been toying with the other method as I've seen it in a few top matches lately. My players seem to have done well with what I consider the more "go forward" method (#2). I feel like maybe a team can benefit from the flexibility of doing both rather than saying "oh well, second man drove instead of ripping, lets just stop and take it to ground." I'd love to hear what other coaches have to say...

There are so many variables that have to be taken into consideration before moving into a maul, players have to be able to do both.

  • How do you coach the initial ball carrier, how would you like him to take ball into contact? driving forward or turning to present...
  • where do you want the 'ripper' to take the ball from? hip or chest ...
  • how do we deal with quality or poor ball? May want to take advantage of a rip and roll or rip and feed option
  • How do you get the 1st support to rip?

I think the most important thing is to coach both models so that players are able to make the decision on the field themselves. When I coach my teams I set out what I term as the principles at the maul:

  1. secure the ball
  2. forward momentum
  3. rolling options
  4. (and what I consider most important after securing the ball) the player that rips retains possession of the ball until the 9 calls for it or he's asked to roll the maul.

Once i've set those principles as the model of the maul, I just let the players practice and work on the variation that suits them best. 99.9% of the time, they always come up with a better system thatn I could ever impose on them. Hope this helps.... Regards Den

I agree Dennis. I'm starting to build more of a model the players can flexibly work in rather than the "Order of Operations" my title suggests. As long as they understand what the point is, they can understand what do to in a maul in a variety of situations.

Josh, How is the state of Rugby in the US at the moment? I did a few sessions last year with a team in Florida. I found that most of the teams in the area had a large contingent of Kiwis and Fijians, and I didn't feel that local talent was being developed. Is this the case throughout?

I would say that is not the case here in Washington State.I am originally from Fiji Islands and i am coaching U-19,U-16 & U-14 here in WA and all the kids are locals and i am yet to see any NZ,Fijian or other Pacific islander palyers in other teams around the state.However i do see lots of coaches from NZ,AUST but i am yet to see another Fijian coach or player in this state.

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