Sports Letter: Rolling mauls

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The Independent Online
Sir: I finished playing rugby in the 1950s in Argentina, having played Northern club rugby for a couple of years after leaving Cambridge. So my rugby is quite far removed from today's game in terms of rules and points. However, there is something that seems intrinsically unfair in the present game.

Much as I admire the rolling mauls of today - and two of Australia's tries (against the Barbarians at Twickenham on 28 November) came from them - the fact that they cannot be easily prevented or countered makes them an oddity for any game. They are the equivalent of obstruction in open play. You might as well protect your threequarters with players running all round them and thereby prevent the other side from checking their progress. At least with a pushover try it is possible for the defending side to touch the ball down once it is over the line - though I have not seen it done.

Should rolling mauls really be allowed? And are they only permitted because the players are so good at them?

You used to have to drop the ball once the maul had formed - so all this smuggling, however clever it is now, used to be a penalty offence]

I only enquire - really because there is no real answer to it, which makes it a very unsatisfactory part of the game.


James King

Ashford, Kent