The new laws and directives have caused confusion as to when the maul ends. The Italian tactic of running away (6N 2-3 years ago), where by they disengage and run around the back to target the ball has been deemed bad form. If the oppo disengage, the maul is deemed to continue, but how do you defend this or referee it. What if the oppo re-engage?- If the ball is at the back, then it is obstruction, if the oppo target the ball, it is offside. If the ball is at the front, then no offside and maul reforms. It is probably best to pull it straight down.
But what if only one or two men are pulled down and the ball carrier remains upright and bound to a team mate and continues without the oppo engaged? Then again, the maul continues until there is a material disadvantage?? It looks like best practice from the ref is to judge the maul over and encourage the team in possession to use it or call a penalty for obstruction if the oppo re-engage. It was much easier if we just penalised the pull down.
There are two big initiatives from the IRB, one is sealing off at the tackle and the other is foul play whilst engaging at rucks.
The first has always been an offence but has been over looked. Players have always arrived at the tackle and bridged the tackled player; wide stance, head and arms on the tackled player or driven over the player and crashed down on the oppo side. This unfairly prevents the oppo having a crack at rucking the ball and must be punished. At lot of players are actively coached to do this and may find this enforcement a surprise, but the key justifications are
Bakkies Botha seems to provide plenty of material to illustrate the next directive
The days of launching into a ruck, tackle or maul without attempting to bind and with the soul intention of 'being physical' are to be stamped out. Its foul play, plain and simple. Youtube Bakkies Botha for plenty of examples.