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How we ranked the best driving mauls

What is a Driving Maul? A Maul is formed in rugby when a ball carrier, a tackler and at least one of the ball carrier’s teammates are involved in the same contact that remains off the ground. A driving maul however, is an attacking weapon used by forward packs who believe themselves to have a physical advantage over their opposition. Apologies to all the backs out there, but this countdown of the best 30 or so Driving Mauls of the 2015 rugby world cup is really a treat for the forwards. 

Driving mauls are often referred to by different regional terms. This video could easily have been called:

  • Best rolling mauls of the rugby world cup
  • Best mauls of RWC2015
  • Best driving mauls  of 2015 rugby world cup

You get the gist. With that said, let’s move on to the ranking criteria we used to rank the best mauls we captured.

#1 Who is the team driving the maul?

Some teams are known for having a pack of forwards that can push the other team over from 20m out. Those teams are rare though. South Africa in #20 are definitely at the top of the list for mind. But at this year’s rugby world cup, it was great to see just how many teams were attempting to use the driving maul as a scoring weapon. Scotland seem to have risen in the ranks of maulers pretty dramatically. It helps when you’ve got massive locks who nobody can out-jump in the lineout. But you’ll see the Scots more than a few times in this countdown. Similarly, Japan? They’re not known as scrummagers or maulers historically but under Eddie Jones, they’ve developed some excellent tight 5 play at both set piece and around the field. The point being, we give extra points in these best driving mauls rankings to nations who have not performed well in this area of the game up until now.

#2 How clean was the driving maul?

Since defenses seem to have given up winning lineout ball on their own 5m line, we’ve had more mauls than ever. Its added an element of tension at the goal line that didn’t previously exist outside the 5m offensive scrum. Its also meant that mauls are being pre-planned and sometimes even pre-engaged. Perhaps that’s why mauls are much cleaner than they used to be, back in the days before lineout lifting. Whatever the explanation, we give point for the formation and maintenance of a maul. If players are constantly being torn off by opponents and forced to re-assemble, they get pushed down our rankings. Take Japan in #4 s a perfect example. They don’t drive very far, but that driving maul has absolutely flawless construction.

#3 How many backs got lost / in the way

About 5 years ago it became cool to have a 10, 12, or even 15 man maul. Sometimes, those backs are actually useful. Take Adam Ashley-Cooper in #13 – he gets his head in properly and leads Michael Hooper all the way to the line. Excellent performance from the Aussie Winger.  The commentators even notice this one. But this is far from the standard. If you nav over to #45 you’ll see another Australia winger, Rob Horne doing absolutely nothing. He might as well be a naval escort for David Pocock. Barely in contact, no shoulder on the player and makes no effort to bypass or protect Pocock. When you have a back doing something stellar, like AAC, we’ll give them extra credit in the rankings. But if they’re just on the bus because they didn’t want t be left out, their impacts costs their team in the best rolling mauls rankings.

#4 What was the result of the driving maul?

Did you score? Did you get 40m down field? The result of the driving maul matters, but not as much as the other criteria here. Yeah its nice to see a team score, but we’re counting down the best maul not the best scoring mauls. South Africa absolutely demolish the Scots in driving maul #2 – they don’t score but its absolutely gorgeous to watch. Eat your heart out backs, this is what we’re thinking of when you use the phrase ‘champagne rugby‘.

#5 How many times could you watch it on repeat?

We have been watching rugby online a lot lately in order to produce these countdowns. It’s frustrating that nobody else has taken the time. Apparently they never heard Phil Kerns joke about making a 101 best scrums DVD. The last criteria for ranking the best driving mauls of RWC2015 was to think about how many time you could watch it back to back to back. We actually enjoyed watching rolling mauls so much that we created too many of them for Facebook’s video uploading to handle. So to get the full version, you need to checkout the video on this page or push on over to our YouTube channel.

What’s next after the best driving mauls?

Finally, the best driving mauls are done with. We’ve already released our compilation of the best try-saving tackles  of the #RWC2015 – so if you haven’t checked that out yet, best head on over. Next up will be the best goal line stands of the tournament.

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