World Rugby Officiating : The home of Rugby officiating on the web : Match Observation Programme
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The maul

A maul occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and one or more of the ball carrier’s team mates holds on (binds) on as well. The ball must be off the ground. The team in possession of the ball can attempt to gain territory by driving their opponents back towards the opponents’ goal line. The ball can then be passed backwards between players in the maul and eventually passed to a player who is not in the maul, or a player can leave the maul carrying the ball and run with it.

Aims for the MO

  • Ensure a fair contest and the availability of the ball.

Referee’s focus

  • Early definition and communication of ruck or maul?


  • Voice: Encourage law compliance.
  • Signal: Indicate problem areas.
  • Whistle: Blow early if the ball can’t be played.

Laws (top three priorities)

  • Check that players are on their feet.
  • Monitor the position and availability of the ball.
  • Stay aware of shifting offside lines for non-participating players.