The Northampton Saints flanker explains how to stop a driving lineout

Jamie Gibson: How to defend a maul

A rolling maul is one of the hardest things to stop on a rugby field as a team builds momentum from a lineout. Here Northampton Saints flanker Jamie Gibson offers his advice on how to defend a driving lineout…

Disrupt the opposition

“Don’t let them win the ball where they want to win it. You never want them to win ball behind you as it opens up more options. You want them to win ball in front of you so you can get numbers behind the ball rather than let them control it.”

Focus on the gaps

“You can’t touch the catcher until they hit the floor but as soon as they do that, go low and try to get between the lifter and the jumper; look for gaps between them. We’ll usually say that our jumper can go high but everyone else goes low so we can try to control it. We also talk about hitting the right spot; if we overload one side, we give them an area to go down.”

Keep it square

“Keep the maul as square as possible. If they turn it one way or the other, it makes it harder for the defence because you may have one or two players up against three or four of them. If you keep it square, it limits the options around it.”


Target the ball

“Get to the ball. You want to get people through to the ball early, before they set up, or splinter the maul as it is set up or even afterwards. You want to work your way to the front and get to the ball – and if you stop the ball coming out you get the turnover. Also, listen to the referee throughout – there are fine margins and if he tells you to get out, you have to get out.”

This article originally appeared in the July 2018 edition of Rugby World magazine.

Every month Rugby World features advice from professional players and coaches on specific skills.

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