What Is A Ruck In Rugby?

There are many strange aspects of a rugby match. The ruck is one of those unique phases of play that you will only find on a rugby field. It is time to break down all things rucks.

What is a ruck in a rugby?

A ruck is a phase in play in rugby where a group of players have surrounded a grounded ball and are now only permitted to strike the ball with their boots or drive over it to win possession. A ruck is like a mini scrum. Rucks are called after a player has been tackled and supporting players crowd over them.

If the ball is on the ground and a number of players have grouped around it while being on their feet then the referee will call a ruck. During a ruck players must stay on their feet and only use their boots to strike the ball or drive over the ball to win possession. If a rugby athlete plays the ball with their hands or while they are on the ground they will be penalised.

A ruck is finished when the ball clearly emerges from the ruck. One key difference between a ruck and a scrum is that during a ruck the ball does have to only come out the back. If the ball comes out of the side of the ruck it is live and the ruck is declared over.

How Do You Ruck In Rugby?

To ruck in rugby you need to stand in a staggered stance with your legs bent, maintain a straight back and look slightly up with your neck. You need to keep your weight on your back foot and drive with your legs over the ball, while at the same time hooking the ball back to your side with your boots.

Rucking is not an easy skill, it takes many years to perfect. However, if you are able to maintain an ideal body position you place yourself in a great spot to win the ball for your team and become a rucking master.

The first step in rucking is to get into a staggered stance with your legs slightly bent and your back as flat as possible. The lower you can get the better as this allows you to get underneath your opposition and drive them backwards.

You need to place your weight on your back foot as this allows you to drive off the ground giving you the power to push over the ball while also frees your front foot to strike and hook the ball backwards.

If you can get low with a flat back and drive hard off your back foot while using your front foot to strike the ball you will be winning rucks for your rugby team in no time.

What Is A Maul In Rugby

A maul occurs when a ball carrier makes contact with a tackler but remains standing and then other players join the ball runner and tackler, bind together and start pushing. Mauls often occur after a lineout where the lineout jumper will be held up by his teammates while the defending side tries to tackle them.

Mauls can be employed both as a defensive and attacking technique. If a ball runner is running with too much of an elevated body height, tacklers will make contact and attempt to wrap their arms around the ball and hold the player in a standing position. The referee will then call maul. 

If the attacking side isn’t quickly able to progress the maul forward or get the ball out of the ball the referee will stop the play and award the defending side a scrum. By forcing mauls a defending rugby team can win turnovers.

Rugby teams will also use mauls in attack to gain metres and even score tries. The most common situation where teams use an attacking maul is during a lineout. After the lineout jumper has caught the ball and landed they will turn and face their teammates who will bind around them and form a maul. The ball will be transferred to the back of the maul and the entire forward pack will push and drive to gain metres. 

The attacking maul is a common way for rugby teams to score from a lineout close to the opposing side’s tryline.

Can A Maul Become A Ruck?

A maul can become a ruck if the ball drops to the ground and players surround the ball. When the ball leaves a maul the maul is finished. Now if players crowd around the loose ball the referee can declare a ruck.

The most common way a maul turns into a ruck is when the ball becomes loose and hits the ground. A player then dives on the loose ball and supporting players stand over the ball, resulting in the referee calling a ruck.

The aforementioned situation is not that common. Usually mauls will collapse where the ball will then be called dead and a scrum will be awarded to the defending side or the attacking side removes the ball from the ruck after failing to drive further. Sometimes mauls are unstoppable and teams will drive the maul all the way to the try line. You will also see a defending side being forced to commit a penalty to stop a maul by illegally collapsing the maul or travelling offside to tackle the player holding the ball in the maul.

What Does Off Your Feet Mean In Rugby?

Off your feet in rugby refers to an infringement during a ruck or at the breakdown. During these phases of rugby a player must be standing and supporting their own body weight to make a play on the ball. If a rugby athlete plays at the ball while off their feet they will be penalised.

At the breakdown and during a ruck players must not infringe upon the ball while they are off their feet. For players to touch the ball they must be standing and supporting their own body weight. If a rugby player makes a play on the ball while they are off their feet they will be penalised.

Rugby players who are off their feet at the breakdown and during a ruck are not only banned from playing the ball but they must make a conscious effort to remove themselves from the ruck or breakdown. This is known as rolling away. 

This rule was brought in to stop players from intentionally lying in and around the breakdown in an effort to slow down the ball, giving the defensive side more time to rest and establish their defensive line. This strategy was known as killing the ruck and resulted in a boring game of rugby with few tries and attacking opportunities. If a player does not try their best to roll away they will be penalised.

What Does Hands In The Ruck Mean?

Hands in the ruck refers to an illegal move in a rugby match. During a ruck players are not allowed to touch the ball with their hands. When a ruck is called players are only allowed to use their legs to kick and strike or the ball or drive over the ball until it emerges from the ruck.

Rugby players can not handle the ball once the referee calls a ruck. If a player does use their hands in a ruck they will be penalised and potentially sent off if it was viewed as deliberate.

There is often a fine line between when a ruck is called. Rugby players have to be very quick and try to beat the referee’s call in order to pick the ball up and win possession for their side. Blindside flankers are masters at anticipating when a referee will declare a ruck and just beat their call allowing them to use their hands and steal the ball.

Once a ruck has been called rugby players are limited in their ability to win the ball. To win a ruck players can only strike the ball with their legs or drive over the ball with their body. Once the ball emerges at the back of the ruck like a scrum or travels out of the tunnel the ball is declared live and players can pick it up and normal play resumes.

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