Richard Cockerill: England coach laughs off Wayne Smith’s call to outlaw the maul

England forwards coach Richard Cockerill has laughed off suggestions that the maul should be outlawed following comments from former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith.

Cockerill said that the suggestion comes purely as a result of New Zealand’s shortcomings with the rolling maul and declared that England would enthusiastically continue to use the weapon in their arsenal.

“legalised obstruction”

Smith led the Black Ferns to Rugby World Cup glory last year and helped mastermind the All Blacks’ 2011 and 2015 World Cup successes. 

The highly respected coach said in an interview that he believes that the maul is “legalised obstruction” and that he would “get rid of it entirely”.

“I don’t like the driving maul as part of the game,” Smith told 

“There are six or seven forwards in front of the ball. There is no access to the ball. It is legalised obstruction. I would get rid of it entirely.

“You could do it very easily by changing the laws so that if the attacking team chooses to kick a penalty to touch inside the 22, then the other team gets the throw-in.”

After his pack scored three tries from the rolling maul against Italy in round two of the Six Nations, Cockerill insists that Smith’s disapproval of the maul is purely a result of New Zealand’s shortcomings. 

“The game is the game, isn’t it? We can all play the same way, or we can all play slightly differently,” Cockerill said.

“Generally, the teams that moan about the maul are the teams that aren’t very good at it.

“English rugby is built on set-piece – the good club teams have a good set-piece. National teams have good set pieces, whoever they are.

“If we have an advantage in the maul, we should take advantage of it. It would be stupid not to.”

England and Harlequins prop Joe Marler weighed in on the debate, simply tweeting, No Wayne, no.

Fixing the scrum

Since taking over from Eddie Jones last December, Steve Borthwick has emphasised England’s need to improve their set pieces.

The win over Italy saw a vast improvement in the scrums, an area of the game that has been a traditional pillar for England. 

After performing as the worst scrum of any tier one nation in 2022, Cockerill was tasked with overseeing the rebuilding process. He revealed that it required input from officials. 

“We have spent more time on it, and we have had a lot of dialogue with the referees, especially Wayne Barnes, Joel Jutge and Phil Davies from World Rugby,” he said.

“Basically, we asked, ‘what do you think of our scrum, what do we need to work on?’ We have taken lots of inputs from the officials because that has not been as good a relationship as we would have liked.

“The perception was that we were a little bit ill-disciplined, a bit reckless. We were ranked 10 out of 10 in tier one post-autumn, and that tells its own story.

“You should take that personally because that’s part of our identity as a team. We just had some conversations, and then we have gone about fixing it, making sure our stability is good and doing lots of reps on the training field.

“The boys have worked hard, and we have got a good pack of forwards. It’s just keeping them honest and working them harder than we probably did previously.

“We will get a lot better. Stats-wise, we are pretty good at this point, but there is still a fair bit we can tidy up.”

England take on Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, February 25 in their third Six Nations match of 2023.

READ MORE: Six Nations: Richard Cockerill expects off-field issues to “galvanise” Wales

Author: editor

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