Line out won by attacking team and defending team engage therefore making a maul. Maul travels through the line of touch. If the maul is moving forward, at what point does the ball need to be at the hind most player?
Law 16.14, Law 16.15 & Law 16.17c refer and apply to any maul – whether or not a post line out formed maul:
Whilst there is no specific requirement in law for the ball to be moved to the back of the maul at any specific time during the maul, as long as the maul is moving toward a goal line, play continues.
However, when the maul has stopped moving towards a goal line for more than five seconds but the ball is still being moved and the referee can see it, the referee instructs the players to use the ball. If the team in possession then fail to use the ball in a reasonable time, the referee awards a scrum to the opposition.
If the maul re-starts moving toward a goal line within five seconds of the first time it stops moving, again play continues. If it stops moving a second time, but the ball is being moved and the referee can see it, the referee instructs the team to use the ball. The team in possession must use the ball in a reasonable time. If the maul has stopped moving toward a goal line for longer than five seconds and the ball does not emerge, the maul has ended unsuccessfully and the referee awards a scrum to the side who did not take the ball into the maul.
Whilst not explicitly required in Law, the first time the maul stops moving towards a goal line the referee can state “That’s once!” in order to keep players aware of both their obligations and their opportunities.
Response published 14th January, 2019.