Referees will enforce new laws governing the maul.
Although World Rugby introduced changes to the laws governing the maul last June, it would seem that referees have been liberal in their implementation.
The change was supposed to see the ripper, the player who takes the ball from the initial carrier in a maul, remain attached to the ball carrier, in order to avoid accidental offside.
If the ripper wants to move the ball to the back of the maul, it must be fed or passed back. This stops the practice whereby the ripper received the ball and swims to back of the maul, behind the series of players driving forward.
For example in the clip below, Ireland’s Chris Henry receives the ball off Devon Toner and moves behind the joining forwards, including the late arriving hooker. Such a drive should now result in a penalty to Wales.
However, although the law change was introduced some time ago, referees have been slow to implement it. As a result, Super Rugby referees have been told to clamp down on the way the ball is moved through the maul.
This of course will affect the Brumbies, who scored ten mauled tries last season. However despite the World Rugby announcing the change last year, Stephen Larkham complained in the Sydney Morning Herald that his side were only recently informed of it.
We can only assume that referees will be similarly proactive in the Six Nations.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena