Maul - BC Knees Go to Ground

ChrisR

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I think that the reason players believe that a knee on the ground constitutes a tackle is because they see it on TV, in 7s, but they don't realize that the BCs teammates are not joining so it isn't a maul.

If it is a maul, as in the OP, then the relevant Law is

[LAWS]Law 16 Maul
17. A maul ends unsuccessfully when:


d. The ball-carrier goes to ground and the ball is not immediately available.

Sanction: Scrum
[/LAWS]

To find out who feeds the scrum for an "unsuccessful maul" you have to go to the scrum tables to find under "Who throws in":

[LAWS]The team not in possession at the start of the maul. If the referee cannot decide which team had possession, the team moving forward before the maul stopped.
If neither team was moving forward, the attacking team.
[/LAWS]


One other point: One knee down is "goes to ground". If the BC can't bring the ball down with him and play it (ie. make it available) then he better have released it to a teammate so the maul can continue. If the BC is wrapped by the ops and goes to ground they don't have to let him play the ball and so they'll get the scrum.

If the BC gets a knee on the ground and jst lets the ball go so the maul continues that would be OK with me.
 

The Fat


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One of those decisions in a game where you doubt yourself!

Blue BC is wrapped up by red defender, other players quickly join in and 'maul' is called. Blue manages to get their knees to ground to immediate cries from his side that the red player must release him. Red player quickly releases the BC (I had said nothing), he gets to his feet still carrying the ball and runs towards the posts. I ping him for not releasing the ball in the tackle.

It turned out this, trying to get to ground and gain a PK was a clear tactic by Blue to overcome tunrovers. It was cute but the execution was not as clever!

My reading of this situation is that in a maul if the BC can get their knees to ground they have been tackled and the defender becomes the tackler and must release the player straight away; at the same time the tackled player must release the ball and make it immediately available; the defender can re-engage to get the ball (from their goal post side) - nice in theory but tough in atight maul situation. If the ball is not immediatley available turnover and scrum to defending side.

My sympathy was with the defenders. In a tight maul it can be hard to know that the player you were holding up to gain a turnover has managed to get a knee to ground.

In the game, I used Blue team's failure to make the ball immediately available a reason to award turnovers consistently.


But was I right?

Your refereeing will improve if you can understand what the players are trying to achieve. This will greatly help in areas such as applying the concept of material effect and that in turn will allow you games to "flow" better.

From your description, the blue players either don't understand maul law ( you stated that you had called "maul") or they were trying to pull a fast one on red by appealing for red not releasing a tackled player (there was no tackled player). This makes life a bit more difficult for you in one way if they just don't understand the applicable law. Red player certainly didn't understand the maul law because he obliged by releasing the blue BC when he didn't have to.
Let's assume the players DO know the maul law. The reason the blue player would try to get to a knee after a maul is called is because he is held by the opposition and cannot get the ball back to one of his team mates. He doesn't want to be held up and have a turn over scrum awarded if the maul is stationary (and the referee calls "once" and then "use it" if the mal remains stationary). The ball carrier, in such circumstances will try to go to ground and make the ball available. This is the crux of what the player is trying to achieve and is what you must get an understanding for. Forget the tackle law after you have called maul. If the ball carrier goes to ground he must make the ball available straight away. If he fails to do so it's an unsuccessful end to a maul and it is a turnover scrum to red.

As I said, your refereeing will improve if you understand what the players are trying to achieve. Do yourself a favour and find a good coach and pick his brain about lineout tactics used at different locations on the field (i.e. defensive throw into a 5m lineout as opposed to an attacking throw into a 5m lineout or an attacking lineout 20m out as opposed to a defensive lineout 20m from the goal line). Once you get an understanding of what are the likely tactical throws, your positioning at the lineout will improve greatly. Not all coaches are the enemy. If you referee at low to mid level games, talk to a coach from a higher level team so you won't have to worry about getting his team the next week.
 

L'irlandais

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Perhaps Law Clarification 2/2011 may be useful here.
Good idea, Law Clarification 2/2011
[LAWS]b) The original ball carrier who goes to ground (knee or sitting) who can play the ball must do so immediately and the referee then has a judgement to make:
i. When the ball carrier goes to ground and the ball is unplayable (i.e. the ball is not available immediately), through no fault of the ball carrier, then the referee awards a scrum as per 17.6(g).
ii. When the ball carrier goes to ground and that player fails to make the ball available the sanction is a penalty kick to the opposition as per 17.2(d)
[/LAWS]Law 16.17d sanction is a scrum. No longer a PK
 
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Stu10


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Has this law changed since previous discussion in 2018?

Last week in a cup quarter final we had a Society ref and (several times) when the ball carrier in the middle of the maul got knees to ground (he did not get the ball to ground or his whole body) the ref shouted release... I asked him at half time for clarification who he was directing the instruction at, and he said everyone... defenders had to release the ball carrier and the ball carrier had to release the ball. He insisted that the defenders had to completely disengage and let the attacking team play the ball freely... I acknowledge that it makes a more free flowing game, but at the expense of a team that uses the maul tactically in defence (it prevented us effectively contesting a maul on our own try line).

In the England v Ireland game this past weekend the same thing happened... ref called maul at 7 min 38 s, then at 7.50 the ball carrier got knees down and the ref called "tackled, release".
 

tim White


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I saw this; I thought a Maul was a Maul once it formed according to the definitions (Ball Carrier plus one from each team, all on their feet). The Ball Carrier is the only player allowed to go to ground deliberately but the ball must be available 'immediately'. A Maul cannot become a tackle -especially once the ref has called it a Maul. I do note the laws state the Maul ends when the ball is on the ground -presumably this then implies it becomes a Ruck (?). However, if the ball is not available immediately this is a 'Failed Maul' =scrum, turnover ball.
 

Balones

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I think it is a case of expediency. What else vould you call to get the ‘tackler’ to release? At a tackle the tackler has to release. You can’t call ruck because the criteria doesn’t apply. ‘Ball carrier to floor’ is not succinct enough and is not a clearly recognised phrase/instruction. Perhaps ‘tackler release’? After all, before a maul can take place there has been an upright tackle even if there hasn't been a ’tackle’ by definition.
 

Stu10


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I think it is a case of expediency. What else vould you call to get the ‘tackler’ to release? At a tackle the tackler has to release. You can’t call ruck because the criteria doesn’t apply. ‘Ball carrier to floor’ is not succinct enough and is not a clearly recognised phrase/instruction. Perhaps ‘tackler release’? After all, before a maul can take place there has been an upright tackle even if there hasn't been a ’tackle’ by definition.

My original understanding was that the "tackler" has no obligation to release the ball barrier, because he is not a tackler, and may therefore stay bound onto the ball carrier (and ball) to force a failed maul (and thus gain possession) because the ball carrier dropping to his knees has created a failed maul and thus conceded possession. Is this not correct?

I realise that many refs have shouted "release" with the purpose of only instructing the ball carrier, but it is not really clear who they are instructing. I think I've previously said "ball carrier release" or "release the ball", but thinking about it now, "use it" is probably best.
 

Stu10


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Had he previously called Maul ?
Yes, the mass formed at 7 min 34s on the clock, then he clearly called maul at 7 min 38s... then another 12 seconds until he called "tackled, release"... even if he had not called maul, I think most people would assume an upright tackle involving 7 players (4 English and 3 Irish) and lasting 16 seconds had turned into a maul.
 
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crossref


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Yes, the mass formed at 7 min 34s on the clock, then he clearly called maul at 7 min 38s... then another 12 seconds until he called "tackled, release"... even if he had not called maul, I think most people would assume an upright tackle involving 7 players (4 English and 3 Irish) and lasting 16 seconds had turned into a maul.
I actually meant your society ref ...

There is a trend in elite rugby for things that look very much like mauls to rather be treated as an extended tackle

So there we do often see a (looks like ) maul being reffed as a tackle.

Which is confusing for everyone
 

Stu10


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I actually meant your society ref ...

There is a trend in elite rugby for things that look very much like mauls to rather be treated as an extended tackle

So there we do often see a (looks like ) maul being reffed as a tackle.

Which is confusing for everyone
Apologies, yes he did call maul. We had a very amicable discussion about it at half time when I asked for clarification because our boys where unsure if they were allowed to hold on or had to release the ball carrier in the maul, and the ref clearly explained to me that he wanted the defenders to release the ball carrier when he got a knee down and allow him to freely go to ground and present the ball to the scrum half so play can continue. I explained how we understood the law (see my post above) and releasing the ball carrier was taking away a tactic we train and utilise, but he disagreed with me, so I left it there.

Importantly on the day we understood what the ref wanted so we didn't give away needless penalties in the second half, but I also was left wondering about my interpretation of the maul laws, which was further compounded by Mathieu Raynal, hence my post here today.
 

Balones

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It all depends if the ball carrier going to ground with one knee is regarded as a collapsed maul. If it is then the ‘tackler’ doesn’t have to release. Clarification 2-2011 makes this clear. What we don’t have is a clear definition of what constitutes a collapsed maul. I think in general we would regard it as several bodies going to ground?
If we have a dynamic situation with the ’maul’ moving as the ball carrier is ‘tackled’ then it is regarded as still a situation in which you can call “tackle”. If the upright tackle is static then it should be regarded as a maul. Under a maul situation there is nothing in law that says players in a maul have to release at any stage.
The only thing I can suggest is listen to the referee as to how he/she is seeing things.
 

Jz558


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Ive always been told to allow an upright tackle to breath and dont rush to call maul. However, once called it can only end in one of three ways and a tackle isnt one of them. A couple of seasons ago I used to get this a lot where ball carrier would fight to get a knee on the ground amongst a mass of bodies trying to hold them up and once they did so would scream tackle. I hadn't seen it for sometime now and then had one at the weekend. I explained the law and reasoning to the Captain, who was excellent, and it didnt happen again.

The ball carrier is the only player entitled to go to ground but if they do so and the ball isn't immediately available then scrum. I get the impression that professional referees allow the tackle because its preferable to several scrum resets. At my level scrums are no problem and we just get on with the game.
 

Stu10


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It all depends if the ball carrier going to ground with one knee is regarded as a collapsed maul. If it is then the ‘tackler’ doesn’t have to release. Clarification 2-2011 makes this clear. What we don’t have is a clear definition of what constitutes a collapsed maul. I think in general we would regard it as several bodies going to ground?
If we have a dynamic situation with the ’maul’ moving as the ball carrier is ‘tackled’ then it is regarded as still a situation in which you can call “tackle”. If the upright tackle is static then it should be regarded as a maul. Under a maul situation there is nothing in law that says players in a maul have to release at any stage.
The only thing I can suggest is listen to the referee as to how he/she is seeing things.

I agree that the ball carrier getting a knee down does not necessarily mean a collapsed maul, however, clarification 2-2011 indicates to me that the ball carrier is obliged to release the ball either to another player in the maul (from either team) or to the floor, otherwise there should be a penalty or a scrum depending on whether the maul has collapsed. Do others agree with this?

I afraid that I don't follow why you would referee a moving/dynamic maul vs a static maul differently.

As a player or coach I totally agree to listen to the ref as to how he/she will see things and call it on the day; but as a referee I would like to better understand the law/guidance so that I can apply it correctly.
 

Balones

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A ‘dynamic’ maul/tackle situation is one that in theory/definition can be defined as a maul but is still in the process of being a tackle as well. In this situation the accepted guidance is that the ‘tackle’ situation takes precedence for the sake of fluidity in the game. If there is a length of time before the tackle is complete then the referee can adjudge it to be a maul and accordingly apply maul criteria to the decision making process. How long etc is a refereeing decision and can vary between referees. It is all a matter of players responding to the referee’s communication. From a PR point of view I would be looking for consistency in a game.
 

Locke


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From my limited time in this forum, I’m shocked this hasn’t received more discussion here.

Once a maul is clearly formed and a referee has called it a maul for all to hear, in what world do the opponents or anyone have to release the ball and ball carrier if ball carrier goes to ground? The burden is on the team in possession to make the ball available to be played immediately right? What law indicates any other player must facilitate this? There are no tacklers because it isn’t a tackle. Being able to get the ball bound up so they can’t use it is a classic and basic maul defense tactic in my experience. What am I missing?
 

crossref


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From my limited time in this forum, I’m shocked this hasn’t received more discussion here.

Once a maul is clearly formed and a referee has called it a maul for all to hear, in what world do the opponents or anyone have to release the ball and ball carrier if ball carrier goes to ground? The burden is on the team in possession to make the ball available to be played immediately right? What law indicates any other player must facilitate this? There are no tacklers because it isn’t a tackle. Being able to get the ball bound up so they can’t use it is a classic and basic maul defense tactic in my experience. What am I missing?
I agree.

The twist is that elite refs tend to not call maul (even though it quite evidently is one) and treat the whole thing as a tackle.

which then causes confusion to the average viewer/player who naturally believes he is watching a maul...
 

number11


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I had this situation arise on Sunday:

Maul, with green attacking red. Green BC goes to ground. Red player falls on him and wraps his arms around the green player and the ball to prevent releasing.

My call was a penalty to green, red player killing the ball.

Red asked me to clarify my decision, and it was obvious that he had been coached to do this in a maul (he's in a regional academy).

Having looked at the clarification from 2011, I'm not sure if my decision was correct.

If both had gone down together, there would be no law requiring red to release; therefore scrum to red.

If red had stayed on his feet and prevented green from making the ball available, I also think a scrum to red?

What would be the correct call?
 

crossref


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I am finding it a little hard to picture - it sounds like rather a loose maul ? Didn't green BC take any red players down with him?

but once you have called maul, the nomal expected outcome is that either the ball comes out or it's a turnover
 
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