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Analysis: Rolling Mauls Hinder Flying Fijians Progress, Cotter Must Nip It In Bud

Boring has been the catchword in regards to international rugby played lately. South Africa’s brand which has been pilloried for its conservative nature and emphasis on kicking during the British
24 Aug 2021 16:20
Analysis: Rolling Mauls Hinder Flying Fijians Progress, Cotter Must Nip It In Bud
Wallabies’ hooker Tolu Latu scores from a driving maul in the pool match against the Fiji Airways Flying Fijians at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan. Photo: World Rugby

Boring has been the catchword in regards to international rugby played lately.

South Africa’s brand which has been pilloried for its conservative nature and emphasis on kicking during the British & Irish Lions Series and The Rugby Championship against Argentina continues to be a subject of debate and criticism.

All Blacks head coach Ian Foster said the Lions series ‘put him to sleep.’

And even former Springboks lock forward Kobus Wiese said ‘the All Blacks displayed how rugby should be played’ against the Wallabies criticizing the turgid brand of rugby his countrymen played.

Play By The Rules

But the bottom line is that world champion played to their strength and play within the World Rugby rules.

The Boks master the ‘garryowen’, a very high up and under kick (named after the rugby club in Ireland) designed to put the opposing team under pressure, by allowing the kicking team time to arrive under and compete for the high ball.

Although it’s not attractive, the Springboks are winning test rugby playing their style and that’s why they are the world champions.

On the same vein, our Fiji Airways Flying Fijians need to build on ways to make our team better and better as we look forward to the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France.

One glaring weakness which always put our team on the receiving end was on how we counter the rolling mauls.

Head coach Vern Cotter and his panel must find ways to master the art of stopping the rolling maul.

Heartbreaking Halt

Two of our Rugby World Cup campaigns came to a heartbreaking halt when the Wallabies were unstoppable when on the roll.

Flanker David Pocock scored twice in the 28-12 win at the 2015RWC in England and four years later hooker Tolu Latu also scored twice in the 39-21 win in Tokyo.

We thought we had a good team, but our failure to master one aspect of the game continues to be big letdown.

Not Attractive

Although it’s not attractive, we need to find ways to counter it and fix it forthwith.

It’s unfair on the opposing team who have to stop the roll legally otherwise players will be sendoff and a penalty try awarded.

Teams therefore are using the rolling mauls as they have more advantages if they do it properly.

Our players are trained on measures to counter it but ended up sucked in and floored when on the defensive.

Like the ‘garryowen’, rolling mauls will be part of the game in future despite growing criticism that it’s boring.

But there is nothing as dull in the modern game as a roll¬ing maul because rugby should be a form of entertain¬ment.

Often during maul, the ball cannot be seen and at the last moment the ball-carrier, usually a hooker or flanker, plops down over the tryline.

Any part of the game that allows a player to score by simply falling down is never going to be interesting.

The pick and drive and ruck contest are far more en¬tertaining, tense and competitive.

But in the end, laws are there to be followed if we are to be part of the game.

Feedback: oseab@fijisun.com.fj



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