I have been struggling for a while (from my first summer of 7s in fact) to manage the point when a maul ends and has done so legally. What was happening to me far too often was a maul forming, moving forwards a few metres and then collapsing of its own accord, or at least not through anything that I had seen that was outside the Laws.
Once this happens you instantly get players from the defending side appealing that this is now a turn-over and we should stop play for a scrum with their put in.
For a while I was confused by the fact that the player with the ball was now on the ground and I should therefore manage the situation as a tackle, telling defenders to release the player and telling the ‘tackled’ player to release the ball. WRONG!
Here is the simple routine I have now been taught:
- Did the maul end legally? If not then blow that whistle and give a penalty to the non-offending side (probably the attacking team).
- If the maul ended legally, is the ball available? If it is then call “use it” and give 5 seconds (or so) for the ball to come out and be recycled.
- If the ball is not available within 5 seconds then whistle and play a turn-over (note the exception that this is not a turnover if a player catching a kick took the ball into the maul).
It’s that simple. Finally I have a method.