Friday, 20 June 2008

A funny thing happened when I pulled that maul down...

A lighter view of the ELVs by Roy Harvey, NAWIRA’s Director of posted on WorldMastersRugby...

There I was, being driven backwards, step-by-step, towards the ever-nearing goal line when I did it. I did it, and I’m proud of it – I took hold of another player’s jersey and dragged it towards me and sat down!

I well remember thinking... "Never mind, Law 14 Definitions states, ‘A player must not make the ball unplayable by falling down’, because I was not actually making the ball unplayable; rather, I was falling down to make the ball unplayable by whomever had possession of it by forcing that player to fall down – a moot point that could be debated in the highest courts of the land".

Well, it came as quite a surprise to the many others concerned and they, too, piled to the ground, not being able to maintain their footing because they had nothing to support their momentum. And there we were, most of us sitting or lying on the ground, one of us in possession of the ball. A small group of players managed to stay on their feet, looking confused as to what to do next – as did the rest of us.

The player with the ball wasn’t sure about what options were available, but knew enough to know what wasn’t, so the ball was released like a hot potato. The other players on the ground were equally unsure of what to do, but nobody risked taking possession of the ball that lay there like an unwanted parcel at a Pass-the–Parcel game amongst the confusion of bodies and confused minds. The ‘no-longer-the-ball-carrier’ was near a state of panic because of the numbers around and on top prevented any movement of any kind away from the ball that lay there amongst the bodies on the ground.

I remembered reading somewhere – Law 14 Definitions came to mind – that the Game was to be played by players who are on their feet, so I tried to get up – no easy task with a few others either with the same notion in mind, or trying to move away. They had obviously read somewhere – probably Law 14.2(a) – that getting away from the ball was an acceptable
option. To players not involved it must have looked as though the ball was a live grenade as we scrambled over one-another to get up or away.

And then there were those involved in the maul who had avoided tumbling to the ground who stood, transfixed, trying to assess what phase of the game they were involved in; the maul had, in part, collapsed in front of their eyes. Yet there they stood, bound together like cancan dancers, peering down at scrambling bodies and a ball that seemed to plead to be taken care of.

One of them shouted "Someone tackled the maul, so Law 15 has come into effect!"

"Not so," yelled another, "Our maul wasn’t tackled, it was pulled down – oh, I suppose that is a tackle..."

"Rubbish", claimed a third, "I remember reading that, according to Law 15 Definitions, a tackle occurs when the ball carrier is brought to ground – and I noticed that the player who was pulled down did not have the ball – so forget about Law 15".

The ball remained untouched as players on the ground scrambled away, and the heated discussion continued among those on their feet.

"We should adhere to Law 17.4(e)", claimed a player with a cauliflower ear, "We should retire behind the offside line since we left the maul".

Another replied," We didn’t leave that maul, it left us!"

"Wait, wait!" cried another." I seem to recollect something in a recent Ruling on a similar situation of Law 16.6, October 1, 2007, where, although one team left a ruck, the Laws of the ruck were still in effect. So this may well be the case with us: We were in a maul, some of us are still bound in that maul, yet others of us are on the ground and no longer in the maul. I’m staying right here until someone does something else".

"That recent ELV of Law 17.5 states that this maul has successfully ended, you silly barristers", mumbled a shy, retiring prop, "I believe we can continue according to the laws of open play".

Barristers? Well, that’s what I thought was said.

It was then that Law 17.2(d) flashed to mind and I hoped that the others would not quote it by pointing at me accusingly, shouting "Players in a maul must endeavour to stay on their feet, and only the ball carrier may voluntarily go to ground and then make the ball available!"

What was exclaimed next was even worse: "Hey, you obviously ignored Law 17.2(e) when you intentionally collapsed that maul. That was bloody dangerous play!"

Just as their inside centre yelled to team mates, "ELVs – and not the Christmas types! That maul has ended successfully. Come on, let’s get that ball!" and hurdled over the pile of players on the ground from what could have been judged as an offside position, the referee blew the whistle with the calmness of an old crusader.

"That ball was not playable, so I’m awarding a scrum", was confidently announced. But I thought I saw a look that reflected a nagging thought:

" That ball was very playable, but with all these laws being thrown about, I’m not taking any chances ... Now, did the ball carrier catch the ball from a kick, or was it a pass ....."

As we resumed play I vowed to research the whole affair of pulling down a maul to determine how many times the ELV Law 17.5 contradicted other aspects of the laws. I also decided to avoid further pulling down of mauls in that match until I needed another jolly good discussion, a chuckle, and a breather ......


Nick Hixson said...

Abseloute brilliance

I am in awe

BigDai said...

But is it a scrum or is the game being played under ELV variation that would restart the game with a free kick to team going forward, or did that team fail to get the ball to ground in which case it is a turn over ball and the defending side restarts with a free kick.