Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

New style refereeing for a fairer contest? by David Clarke
March 31, 2010, 9:44 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Refereeing | Tags: , , , , , ,

Writing in this month’s International Rugby Coaching, Paddy O’Brien, the IRB referee supremo, believes that rugby will be back to its old ways of a fairer contest.

He identifies five areas where he has got his referees to work harder at applying the law:
1. The maul at the lineout: no blocking.
2. Offside at the ruck.
3. Rolling away from the tackled played and/or releasing him to play the ball.
4. Better scrum engagement.
5. Keeping onside from the kicks.

Early evidence suggests that there is more space for attacking teams, but they are still adapting to the new regimes. Referees too are making a slight transition. The laws are not new, just being more heavily emphasised.

As Paddy says, one metre or one second of extra space and time can make all the difference in the game of rugby.

Better Rugby Coaching

Do you know what you can do at the maul by David Clarke
August 19, 2009, 8:37 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby Refereeing | Tags: , , ,

Here are the guidelines set out by the IRB from their website.

An excellent link,
it shows videos of what is happening at the maul.
Here is another video from the IRB to look at as well.

In summary from their PDF:
The maul must be formed so that the opposition can contest the maul at the formation; this includes
the formation of the maul at a lineout and from a maul formed after kick-offs or restart kicks. (Match
Officials were instructed to apply this from May 2009 – a DVD was circulated to all match elite match
officials and Referee Managers.) Mauls from open play should be refereed in the same way as mauls
formed at lineouts or from restart kicks.
A player may have both hands on the ball and be bound into the maul by other players involved in the
If a player takes the ball in a formed maul and detaches whilst the players in the maul continue going
forward, they are obstructing the opposition if that player continues moving forward using the players
in front as a shield.
If the ball carrying team in the maul is moved backwards at or immediately after the formation, Law 17
(d) and (e) should apply :
“(d) When a maul has stopped moving forward for more than five seconds, but the ball is being moved
and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge
within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.
(e) When a maul has stopped moving forward it may start moving forward again providing it does so
within 5 seconds. If the maul stops moving forward a second time and if the ball is being moved and
the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge
within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.”
If the maul is moved backwards, match officials currently do not apply Law 17 (d) at the maul formation. If they did so
it would only allow one more movement forward and it may encourage the non-ball-carrying side to commit to the maul
at its formation.
Match officials also permit mauls to move sideways and do not apply 17 (d) and (e). Strict application may assist.
If the referee says “use it” the ball must be used and restarting the maul is not an option.
The concern about ‘truck and trailer’ is not about the ball being one or two players back from the ball
carrier when the maul is moving forward, as that replicates a scrum. The concern is about the player
‘hanging’ on the back of the maul. Strict application of the definition of a bind may assist in resolving
this issue:
“Binding. Grasping firmly another player’s body between shoulders and the hips with the whole arm in
contact from hand to shoulder”.
If the ball carrier player does not bind in this way, the maul is considered to be over match officials insist the ball is
used. If the player rejoins and binds on the players in front, the team should be penalised for obstruction. This may
encourage players to bind appropriately.
Better Rugby Coaching

Simple truths still win rugby games by David Clarke

An international delight of rugby this weekend!

I must say the game that caught my imagination was the Super 14 final between South Africa’s Blue Bulls and New Zealand’s Waikato Chiefs. I know that the rules are achanging, but once again the pace the game is played at is quite breathtaking. The Bulls blew away the Chiefs in the end 61-17.

Here are my thoughts on the key elements, and beware the Lions, because the Blue Bulls had some key test players.

1. Play with width, but come from depth
You can spread the ball across the field, but the ball carriers must interest the defenders with their pace onto the ball and some straight running, however far away the defence is. Both teams spread it wide, but only one team attacked with speed, the Bulls.
2. You must win your set piece cleanly
The Bulls were masters of disrupting the lineout. This led to the Chiefs throwing risky throws. Lineout defence is therefore crucial. The scrums were more solid for the both sides, but again a significant “charge” was made when the Chiefs needed good ball. Good first phase allows teams to develop patterns of play. Defences will have the upper hand otherwise.
3. Sealing is dead
A sealing play stops at the ball and scrum half finds it more difficult to clear the pass. At Super 14, it is more likely that the player “falls” beyond the ball. They key is: keeping the ball clean and if the ball is sealed, then the attacking side will create quick ball. Teams that coach sealing next year will not progress.
4. You must vary your point of attack from 2nd phase
Both sides passed the ball from the base of the ruck close, wide, off 9, and off 10 to keep the defences guessing. This created defensive gaps around 10 and then around 13. Teams cannot cover the whole pitch.

Simple truths we must continue to remember.

And mauling is back! The Lions and the Royal XV benefitted from the return to mauling. More on that as the week goes on.

Better Rugby Coaching

The most vital coaching area with the lineout ELVs by David Clarke

The most important lineout ELV has changed back to the old law of matching numbers.

The other lineout ELVs, which are here to stay, removed the anomalies from beforehand. The player standing in the traditional defensive hooker position cannot lift, the receiver has to stand two metres from the line until the ball is thrown in and lifting (as if it wasn’t before) is allowed.

So we will have a return to shortened lineouts and all the variations they provided. Some teams at the top end of the game were using them anyway, despite the opposition being able to have any amount of players in the lineout.

The principles of good lifting and throwing remain, but there are lots of opportunities to win the lineout AND to use the rolling maul from the lineout.

And I think it is the last prospect that makes winning the lineout well even more interesting. You cannot maul from poor lineout. You have to win the ball cleanly and so it is good to get into space to make an uncontested catch. Then you have to transfer the ball away from the catcher before he is pulled over.

Right then, back to the shortened lineout variations and developing the rolling maul.

Better Rugby Coaching

The five best sports to learn from (3) by David Clarke

Greco-Roman wrestling

In the January 2008 edition of Rugby Coach I explained how Greco-Roman wrestling could be used in rugby training. Here are the reasons for using it in your training.

3. Greco-Roman wrestling

Fitness. A minute bout of wrestling is tiring and closely related to rucking, mauling and scrummaging in terms of the type of physical activity used. Try six rounds with your team over a period of ten minutes.

Conditioning. The methods used in Greco-Roman wrestling use similar muscle groups to those in the contact area.

Techniques. Body positions and grips can be replicated in rugby.

Mind. The domination of an opponent requires mental as well as physical prowess.

Discipline. It is not the angry wrestler that wins the contest, but the one who controls their aggression through strength and technique. Poor technique in a moment of madness can lead to penalties and misdirected moves, very much like rugby.

On Monday, I will look at golf.