If you’ve watched any amount of Super Rugby this year, you’ll know that the rolling maul is the hot-topic of the moment. And more specifically, just how the hell is a team meant to defend against it?
In particular it has been the South African conference teams that have used it to such deadly effect and who seem to be forming them more frequently than they can churn out new Fast & Furious films.
For this very reason Big Daddy Rugby has consulted some of the worlds most highly respected and completely fictitious military experts to come up with 5 ways to stop the dreaded rolling maul.
We can do nothing about Vin Diesel films though. Sorry.
1. Scorched Earth Policy
When it comes to wreaking havoc and general destruction, a crazy cat by the name of Stalin had a few tricks (and most likely a poison-tipped dagger) up his sleeve. As a tactic used by the Russians on the German army during WW2 and the US in Vietnam, the idea is to destroy the turf to such an extent that the rolling maul won’t function effectively.
Downside: Not suitable for home matches, i.e. don’t shit where you eat.
2. Propaganda campaign
Not to be outdone by a crazy Russian, the Germans used this slightly more subtle form of military strategy to instil fear and doubt among their enemies. The defending team could make use of an online social media campaign to belittle the image of the rolling maul, utilising slogans such as ‘Rolling mauls cause cancer’ or ‘Rugby is for Girls‘ – or even a video viral showing rolling mauls being formed by fans at a Justin Bieber concert.
Downside: Getting Bieber’s agent to agree to this could take some time.
3. Horns of the bull
Cunning military strategy invented by Shaka Zulu. He’s that guy who made his troops run on thorns just because he could. The rolling maul is initially hit head-on, with supporting players flanking both sides (the horns) and then employing short stabbing movements with sharp instruments to inflict injuries on the unsuspecting attacking forwards.
Downside: Not only are Saffa players familiar with it, but it can lead to at least half the team being sin-binned.
4. Divide and conquer
If it worked for the Romans, it can work for you. Simple yet effective technique in which you turn your opponents against each other, leaving them weak and vulnerable. All the defending team needs to do is make the tight-heads believe their doing all the hard work while the loose-head trio are getting all the girls and glory and BAM…the rolling maul collapses like a deck of cards.
Downside: Hard to convince tight-heads of anything unless it’s done with simplified drawings and pictures.
5. Trench warfare technique
This one involves a bit of planning, but with some bulldozers, a bit of barbed wire and a full-back with a Gatling Gun – that rolling maul isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
Downside: In addition to logistical issues, can lead to stalemate and a sudden urge for players to breakout into a jovial football match while singing Paul McCartney’s ‘Pipes of Peace’