Time to bring back rucking in rugby?

Perhaps a little controversial, but I think it’s time to bring back rucking, for the good of the game:

a) The removal of rucking didn’t even make sense. What were the IRB trying to achieve? Were they trying to make the game more friendly, or less violent, perhaps attract more players? Was rucking really putting that many people off? Players take to the field every week knowing they have a good chance of breaking a bone, or even their neck, yet they took away rucking which just leaves flesh wounds and broken fingers?

b) Removing rucking just introduced a cheat’s charter. There’s no incentive to not smother the ball, or slow it down with hands on ball in the ruck, when near your try line and it looks like the opposition is going to score. Giving away a penalty (and perhaps, if you’re that close to the line, a sin binning) is a better alternative to conceding a try. Rucking removes this: who in their right mind is going to smother when they know they’re going to get rucked to shreds? Once rucked, never returned!

c) The lack of rucking is favouring a boring game. I was at the recent match between Australia and Scotland. It was fucking boring: the only redeeming feature was the relatively exciting end, but for 70 minutes, I wish I’d never left the house. Similarly, I’ve all but given up watching England. I didn’t see the Ireland v. South Africa match, but I heard that was terrible too. Lack of rucking’s slowing the game down, as players are smothering ball, and not quickly moving away from the tackle site is favouring kicking for territory rather than a running game. Zzzz.

d) The laws surrounding the ruck have become completely byzantine, and stoppages are made every 2 seconds. I play every week, and even I can’t work out why the game is stopped in the ruck half the time. Bring back rucking, and allow the opposition to ruck hands off the ball, and so on, instead of stopping the game every other second.

e) To pre-empt opposition: reintroducing rucking needn’t mean rucking in the face or groin has to be allowed, nor stamping on hands, faces, legs etc. We allow tackling without allowing high or otherwise dangerous tackling. Besides, if you’re really playing against a psychopath, laws against rucking are barely going to matter.

f) At least at the amateur level, enforcement is already patchy. Some weeks we get older referees who allow rucking, the next few weeks, we get ones who blow up and sin bin straight away. Make it uniform, and bring rucking back.

g) Audiences prefer a more physical game: they enjoy the big hits. There’d be nothing better than watching a cheat being rucked to shreds.

Is there anybody who disagrees?

What? I was asleep and totally missed this. Being in the US there is very little chance to see any form of Rugby on TV and I don’t get out to the pitch anymore. No Rucking? As in you just place the ball nicely on the ground and … what? Please tell me you are talking about Rugby league.

There’s rucks, but there’s no rucking, as in scraping your boots rapidly across an opposition player who is obstructing the ball in the ruck.

I’ve only been playing rugby for a year now so I’m obviously unclear on what rucking is. I thought rucking was locking up with an opponent over the ball after a tackle while trying to move it back to a team mate behind you.

As long as you don’t leave your feet when you make contact you can hit your opponent as hard as you can the change that I knew of this year was that you can’t bind on to the down player to make yourself more stable.

What am I missing?

ETA: Oh, ok you’re talking about cleating the person tackled while he shields the ball with his body. Got ya. I don’t know I have trouble getting out from under rucks I’m not sure that being cleated would make me move faster but I’d sure be looking to kill someone once I got up.

I can’t prove this but I believe it was some bullshit, misguided attempt by the IRB to make the game more palatable for parents in an attempt to grow the game.

The problem is that rucking is a fundamental part of the game AND it’s self-policing. If rucking is allowed, and somebody gets a hankering to slow the ball, well I think we all know what happens to the offending party. If rucking is allowed, you’ll see people doing their best to get out from the bottom of the ruck in an effort to not get the Taranaki Tickler.

Rugby is not for everyone and if you can’t handle it, and that includes rucking, then don’t play!

No, rucking’s for the defending side diving over the ball and slowing the game down, and getting their hands all over the ball, stopping the attacking side moving out a quick ball. You don’t get rucked if you’ve been tackled.

Agree absolutely with Flyhalf, it was a poor decision motivated by an attempt to make the game more family-friendly and in doing so has made it far to easy to kill the ball.

Right that’s sorted then, now how are we to fix the scrum?

What’s the problem with the scrum? The lack of competition? I remember years ago rugby union scrums used to last forever, now they’re over in a couple of seconds.

The inordinate amount of resets and seemingly arbitary penalties (NZ v Italy is a good example).

You seriously think it would be a good look for an international professional sport to offcially sanction the players ‘kicking’ & tagging the opposition while they are tied up in a ruck?

Before you start that they’re not kicking - To the leyman that’s exactly what it would look like. The leyman knows nothing about ‘slowing’ the ball, and all they would see, would be that it is legal to ‘kick’ at the opposition. It is not a good luck to have players coming up with broken fingers and bloody appendeges from every ruck and maul.

I’m a league man myself, so I only follow the game superficially, but the game had plenty of problems with being boring, slow and incomprehensible long before rucking was disallowed.

League boy too, that mindless stamping on defenceless players one many unattractive facets of the game. Must be a magnet for “certain types”


The game’s a contact sport, and removing rucking has ruined the game. Is there really a group of people who can accept crunching tackles, yet find rucking unpalatable, and if so, why on earth should we listen to them? Besides, why should the sport be gutted to appease the layman: as you said, the layman doesn’t understand the purpose of rucking, so fuck him. If you’re removing rucking to increase audience numbers, you’re misguided: it’s the stop-start nature of the modern ruck, with the referee blowing up every two seconds due to hands on the ball, that’s killing the game, and making it unwatchable.

By certain types, you mean “anybody who ever played rugby union before the 2000s”, right?

The problem with the modern ruck is simply the ways teams play it. Because of the last feet offside rule no team wants to commit to proper rucks because then the attack has a little room to move and defense requires proper tackling. At the moment the routine is that the ball goes one pass off the ruck to a guy who takes 2 steps and meets the defence.

What I can’t understand is why no team attempts commiting to rucks and mauls like 20 years ago. If the defence just stands 2 guys over the tackled player form a ruck with 5 or 6 players, drive them back while holding the ball at the last man’s feet and see what answer they have for that. If they try to answer with more forwards you at least get some room to work with in attack. If they don’t surely a well drilled pack could just walk all the way to the tryline.

OK, I think I see what the OP means now. I played many years ago. When I started watching again a few years ago I was surprised by two things. 1) The lifting (line-outs), which hadn’t been invented the last time I played, and 2) the amount of ball handling after a tackle. In the 80’s they (in the US anyway) were moving away from ball handling in rucks to the point that you had to let go of the ball immediately after hitting the ground. It looks to me like they have gone the other way now and I see guys flopping around on the ground, shielding the ball until they can get into position to hand it back. All the time with a couple of guys hovering over him in a sort of ruck. That ain’t rugby to this old-timer.

I guess if you get to do anything you want with the ball, even when laying on the ground after a tackle, then rucking would only get in the way. If that is the sport they want, why don’t they just play </sneer> rugby league </unsneer>. :smiley:

OK, so wait. I’m rugby-illiterate, so correct my ignorance. I’d always been under the impression that a ruck is sort of like a rough-and-tumble basketball tip-off. That is, by rule, in a ruck, it’s a free ball, and anyone is allowed to try to force the ball into the open, where it can be taken by whichever team gets there. This includes “rucking”, which is directed at the ball, not at the opposition, and is circumscribed to include no stomping, only horizontal foot movement, etc.

So, they don’t allow that anymore? How do you get the ball out? Is it hands only? How is that any less dangerous? At least with a traditional ruck, you don’t necessarily have the weight of the entire team on you. Some of them are standing above you, trying to get at the ball with their feet.

Is that about right?

What prompted it? Was it the psychos who were stomping heads, or was it the players who tried to shield the ball with their bodies, and who got hurt doing it?

For the two league boys, the point of rucking is not to “kick and tag” the opposition or be a “magnet for certain types.” The point of the ruck is to retrieve the ball from a tackled player and you do this with your feet and not your hands. The fact that a leg, hand, body, or whatever gets in the way is immaterial. If the tackler, and hell, the ball carrier for that matter, does not get out of the way before the support arrives, you get the boot. It’s that simple. Tackle the ball carrier, which means you have to go the ground also, and either get to your feet to take the ball (before the ruck is formed), or if the ruck is already formed, GET OUT OF THE WAY.

Again, the point of the ruck is NOT to put the boot to some poor sap who happens to be lying there, it is to retrieve the ball. Retrieving the ball just happens to be done with your feet.

Oh come on.

I know Union reasonably well for all of being primarily a League fan. And do you honestly believe Union players only ever used rucking to ‘retrieve the ball’? Only if an arm or leg or a head ‘happens’ to be in the way might it get accidently trod on?

Have a look at some footage from rucking allowed days - is it really an aspect of the game that would lure more people in to watch the game, or make Mums happy for their kids to play the game?

Rucking was used by every thug in the game to get his tags into an opposition player on the ground, with the nudge nudge wink wink understanding that they were trying to ‘retrieve the ball’. I’m sure those wonderful images of (IIRC) the South African ‘rucking’ an opponents head repeatedly should be #1 in the highlights reel for Union.

No, a ruck occurs whenever a man is tackled, or goes to ground, with the ball. In which case, he has to let go of the ball within a couple of seconds, while his forwards attempt to shield it, and move the tackler out the way. The opposing team can counter-ruck, and try to win the ball back, by driving through the centre of the ruck and knocking the opposing forwards back. It’s relatively tightly controlled, with the referee shouting out instructions to both players on what is and isn’t allowed, and informing each team when they have the ball. This is still how it works.

The problem is, the IRB banned a practice called “rucking” (which you mostly understood), which guaranteed that the game flowed smoothly. When you tackle somebody, the rules say you have to make an effort to move out of the way as quickly as possible. Players also cannot put their hands on the ball when they’re lied on the ground (actually, I think it’s if they’ve got a knee on the ground). Both rules were designed to make sure that the (acting) scrum half could retrieve the ball quickly from the ruck, and move it out to the backs, so as to ensure a running game. If players didn’t attempt to move, or they put their hands on the ball, trying to “seal it”, there was a practice called rucking, where the team trying to retrieve the ball would use their studs (cleats) on the offending player, in order to get them out of the way.

Rucking, but not rucks, were banned a few years ago. This was a complete and utter disaster, as the game now stops every two seconds, as players put their hands all over the ball and stop it coming out of the ruck. As there’s no remedy for stopping this form of cheating, the referee blows up for a penalty. As expected, most rugby matches now are unwatchable.

Nobody really knows. It was probably a misguided attempt to grow the game, as rucking can be pretty rough, and leave large scars. Of course, the effect removing rucking has been catastrophic on the game as a spectator sport (and playing it). The removal of the practice has been pretty unpopular, though.

That’s why we have referees on the pitch. Nobody’s saying rucking should be allowed to the face, or to the groin: I specifically said this in my OP. We allow tackling, without allowing dangerous tackling, and allow competitive scrums without having them turn into free-for-alls.

To pre-empt your opposition: if the referee can’t be trusted to spot rucking in the face, with rucking made legal, what’s to say he can spot it now?

I too am a league fan, largely because union has become almost unwatchable but I used to play union and was refereeing seniors while still a junior.

I can say that in my time I never saw anyone sent off, or sent anyone off for a rucking foul. Plenty got sent off for other things. In a ruck no-one is usually in a position to launch a full blooded kick and the intent was just to move the stubborn player away from the ball. Usually the guy gets the message and starts assisting in the aim.

My brother who was a halfback, who also refereed, used to make it a principle that if you got rucked out twice from “his” rucks , the second time he would stand on you to get the ball out so that you would stop laying in the ruck. Referees let him do it and I don’t know that anyone was injured, just insulted.

The first thing that needs to be differentiated is a ruck and a maul.

In a maul, the players are on their feet, and the general idea is for the team in poessession to be moving forward, which puts that opposing backs on the back foot, and creates space for the backs to run more.

A ruck occurs when the ball carrier goes to ground and several players get there quickly. When he is on the ground, a player is supposed to release the ball and roll away (hopefully allowing a maul to form).

The talent comes in when the tackler is able to “turn” his opponent - this means to say tackle him in such a way that:

ball ! tackled player ! tackled players team

This will (should) lead to a turnover in poessession. Of course the tackled player will be trying to stop the ball from coming out, and as you are not allowed to pick the ball up when it is in a ruck or maul, you must use your feet to get it back.

I remember my playing days vividly, rucking was not an issue - if you wanted to “cheat” and lay all over the ball you got rucked, thats the way it went. If you didn’t want to get rucked, then don’t cheat.

And I agree with the OP - rucking should be allowed