Rugby Maul

The what, how, why, where and when of the rugby maul and mauling. Find out what you do and how you use a maul to gain ground.

For a maul to form...

When the ball carrier is held but not brought to the ground a maul may form. You need to know when a maul has formed because it affects what you are permitted to do.

For a maul to form...

There must be a least three players. The three players must include

  • The ball carrier
  • An opponent, holding the ball carrier
  • A team mate of the ball carrier, bound to the ball carrier


  • Players must be on their feet and attempt to stay on their feet
  • The players must be in the field of play
  • The group of players must be moving towards a goal-line

Include all these bits of information in a clear, interesting picture in your head so you remember the maul. Mix up the order if that helps.

Maul infographic Remember the maul

If you haven`t created a picture of your own, maybe you will remember this.

When a maul has formed...

  • The maul must keep moving towards a goal-line
  • The players must attempt to stay on their feet
  • Players must avoid collapsing the maul
  • Players in it must have head/shoulders at/above height of hips


  • An offside line comes into force for each team
  • The offside line for each team is parallel to the goal-line and right behind the foot of the hindmost player in the maul
  • Other players may only join the maul by coming from behind the offside line and binding onto the hindmost player in the maul


Using the skill and qualities of the forwards, mauling is a way of keeping control of the ball and moving the ball towards (and sometimes into) the opposition in-goal area.

The ball can be moved from player to player within the maul as long as the maul keeps moving towards one of the goal lines and the players stay bound together.

If they have the ball, the objective of mauling is to wrestle the ball from the opposition and keep possession. It`s normally done by the forwards but any player can be in a maul.

Much pulling, pushing and struggling occurs as you try to get the ball and smuggle it away.

Good posture and body height are important.

A well ballanced crouch is good. Have your feet shoulder width apart and offset backwards and forwards, ready to do your share of pushing. Have your chin up to shorten and protect your neck.

You must stay bound to other team members with the full length of at least one arm.

You must attempt to stay on your feet.

The maul is like a small swarm of bees with the ball tucked inside. Coordinate the pushing, vary the direction, smuggle the ball between players, move the ball forward. Stay Bound!

Getting involved in mauling

To become involved in mauling you you must either be there when the maul formed or join it correctly by entering 'through the gate' (described here).

You join the maul safely when the level of your shoulders is above or equal to the level of your hips.

This reduces injuries in mauls and helps you stay on your feet.

Having arrived at the maul area correctly you must bind onto (alongside) the hindmost player at your side of the maul.

You must not jump on top of a maul or attempt to drag another player out of a maul.

Mauling action

Only the ball carrier may go to ground but if they do they must make the ball available immediately.

You may drive the opposition backwards to make ground.

Using the power of your legs, drive opponents back, making contact with the front of your shoulder,

At the same time you are also struggling to control the ball which is amongst the arms of the contesting players.

You need good upper body and leg strength to rip the ball out of the arms of the opposition and to prevent that from happening to you.

You need teamwork and co-ordination as you struggle for control.

All players in the maul must remain bound, with a full arm bind, until the maul is over.

If you become detatched you must retreat behind your offside line. From that position, you can rejoin the maul if you wish to.

The maul ends

You aim to find weak points in the opposition resistance and make progress then move the ball to the fringes (back or sides) of the maul so that one of your players can peal off the maul with the ball and create a new phase of play.

If no progress is being made the team holding the ball must move it to players outside the maul or risk losing possession.

Basically, if the maul stops moving for more than five seconds the match official may stop the game and restart with a scrum.

The team not in possession of the ball will get the advantage of putting the ball into the scrum.