Clip 3 – 27 February 2019 - Law 16

Matt Faddes of the Highlanders is confronted by three Chiefs. The three - Anton Leinert-Brown, Tumua Manu and Etene Nanai-Seturo - grab Faddes and hold him up. Ben Smith and Rob Thompson of the Highlanders go to the support of their team-mate.

Faddes manages to force a knee to the ground and the referee calls: "Tackle. Release."

This has become a common occurrence, but is it right?

  • When the three Chiefs have hold of Faddes, there is no tackle or maul.
  • When Smith and Thompson drive into the group of four, it would seem that a maul is created.


Maul: A phase of play consisting of a ball-carrier and at least one player from each team, bound together and on their feet.

Faddes was the ball-carrier and there were three Chiefs and two Highlanders bound together and on their feet.

It is a maul and it stays a maul until it ends - either successfully or unsuccessfully, but it does not change into a tackle.

There was no obligation on the three Chiefs to release Faddes. The maul should have gone to the end - successful or unsuccessful.

Ending a maul

A maul ends and play continues when:

a. The ball or ball-carrier leaves the maul.
b. The ball is on the ground.
c. The ball is on or over the goal line.

A maul ends unsuccessfully when:

a. The ball becomes unplayable.
b. The maul collapses (not as a result of foul play).
c. The maul does not move towards a goal line for longer than five seconds and the ball does not emerge.
d. The ball-carrier goes to ground and the ball is not immediately available.
e. The ball is available to be played, the referee has called “use it” and it has not been played within five seconds of the call.
Sanction: Scrum. advert