• RSS NewsWire

    • PHOTO ESSAY: A day in the life at Juliette Florist July 16, 2018
      Juliette florist is a boutique in Wellington. ABBY SINCLAIR PARKER spends a day with them. The post PHOTO ESSAY: A day in the life at Juliette Florist appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • WATCH: Kitten season takes over SPCA in Wellington July 3, 2018
      Kitten season in Wellington is ending, which causes a bigger demand for foster careers The post WATCH: Kitten season takes over SPCA in Wellington appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • Ra Smith: Reviving the “people’s marae.” July 3, 2018
      A Māori community leader is vying to make a Wairarapa marae vibrant again. THOMAS CROSKERY reports. The post Ra Smith: Reviving the “people’s marae.” appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • Online versus in-store fine balance July 3, 2018
      Domestic online retail sales are growing at a faster pace than international, but all is not lost for in-store retail. JULIA STEEL reports. The post Online versus in-store fine balance appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • WATCH: Zoo fights plastic for World Environment Day July 2, 2018
      Over 700 marine species are affected by plastic in our oceans. Courtney Day finds out how Wellington Zoo raises awareness. The post WATCH: Zoo fights plastic for World Environment Day appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • Increasing numbers of Kiwis leave for Asia a longer-term trend July 1, 2018
      People are departing New Zealand for overseas in the largest numbers since 2014 and Asia is increasingly attractive. NZ China Friendship national president Dave Bromwich talks to SAM ROBINSON about the trend of younger Kiwis moving to China for business opportunities. The post Increasing numbers of Kiwis leave for Asia a longer-term trend appeared first on N […]
    • PHOTO ESSAY: A taste of France in capital July 1, 2018
      The Renault French Festival’s French Village brought European expats, tourists and Kiwi Francophiles together. JULIA STEEL had a taste. The post PHOTO ESSAY: A taste of France in capital appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • Gun-toting teacher has lived the good life in Masterton July 1, 2018
      Semi-retired teacher has seen it all in classrooms across the globe. SALLY HEMING talks to the woman of many talents. The post Gun-toting teacher has lived the good life in Masterton appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • WATCH: Hinerangi reminder of grief, hope at Pukeahu Memorial July 1, 2018
      The Last Post ceremony will cease on Armistice Day, but LEAH TEBBUT reports the statue of Hinerangi will forever wait. The post WATCH: Hinerangi reminder of grief, hope at Pukeahu Memorial appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
    • PHOTO ESSAY: HuttCross Cycle cross race supplying the mud and muck June 27, 2018
      Annual HuttCross races setting people back this winter The post PHOTO ESSAY: HuttCross Cycle cross race supplying the mud and muck appeared first on NewsWire.co.nz.
  • RSS The Dropkicks

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • Advertisements

OPINION: NZ should add maul to attacking repertoire

ROLLING ROLLING ROLLING: The maul is fashionable again and has become a big part of the game.

THE ROLLING maul is back with a vengeance and this scribe – along with countless gnarly forwards who long for the rough and tumble of yesteryear – couldn’t be happier.

But it is the South African sides that are reaping its benefits during in this year’s instalment of the Super 14.

The Bulls have showed how effective it can be. They have bullied, smashed and out-muscled every team they’ve played this season and that’s because they’ve used this piece of old-fashioned forward play to devastating effect.

New Zealand – like we were last year under the high ball during the Tri Nations – has once again been caught short by the old foe.

Although Graham Henry tried reinstalling the maul during the early part of his All Black tenure, this pillar of New Zealand forward play in the 1960s and 70s is very much a forgotten art at the top-level these days.

In fact, when is the last time you saw a New Zealand Super 14 franchise – or NPC team, for that matter – getting their drive on and rumbling up the field in unison?

East Coast captured the nation’s admiration using this tactic. The minows from Ngati Porou rolling mauled their way to back-to-back NPC Third Division titles and a Second Division finals appearance during a fairytale run between 1999 and 2001.

But I digress.

Kiwi sides would rather play free flowing rugby. And that’s fine. After all, attacking rugby is entertaining rugby. It ensures bums on seats, so I’m told.

But this style of play requires space, which is a rare commodity at international level. How often have we seen the All Black simply shuffle the ball from one side of the field to the other in recent seasons trying to find holes in the watertight defensive screens that plague the game?

With the opposition no longer committing players to the breakdown, there are no gaps to be exploited, no acres of space for the likes of Cory Jane and Ma’a Nonu to cut some merry cappers out wide.

This is where the maul could help. If done correctly, it can aid the attempt to play open rugby, as it provides the ideal conditions to move the ball wide.

In short, mauls are designed to draw defenders in. And with the new rules outlawing the collapsing of mauls, the opposition are now forced commit players in order to stop a team gaining momentum from a lineout drive.

That opens up space, which in turn leads to opportunities and, most importantly, tries (provided you’re any team but the Hurricanes of course).

Even if defenders aren’t sucked in, they’d likely try to stop the opponent’s weigh on by pulling the maul down illegally, meaning a possible three points or chance to reset and have another crack.

So really it’s a win-win.

Defending the maul, however, has left a few players and coaches baffled this year.

Which is surprising, as it’s Rugby 101, the stuff you learn when you’re a kid running around on a cold Saturday morning.

But the Sunday Star Times ran a story two weeks ago in which Highlanders coach Glenn Moore said it was difficult to stop when a team has its platform set.

That may be true, but like former All Blacks Craig Down and Ian Jones said in the same story, it can be defused before any damage is done.

From my experience, the key is to get in early, hit it hard and make sure you have the numbers. Good body positioning is also paramount. Go too high and you’ll get smashed, as the South African teams have shown.

As well as going in hard and low, defenders must firmly place their feet by digging their sprigs into the ground. That will help set a good foundation to counter the drive. Should you lose your footing, then peel off and re-enter the back of the maul and re-establish your footing.

It’s hardly rocket science, eh?

So the maul is fashionable again. No doubt Messers Henry, Hansen and Smith would have noticed this during their eight-week diet of Super rugby.

The good thing is time is on their side. They can analyse the maul, develop methods to combat its effectiveness and look at incorporating it into the All Black’s repertoire.

Hopefully the ‘three wise men’ will heed the call.

Advertisements