Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Taking a quick free kick for an early shove.

Afternoon, I hope you are well. 
Can a team given a free kick for an early shove at a scrum take the kick straight away or is there a requirement to have the packs disengaged before taking the free kick ?
Thank you 
Regards David Forrest

Hi David

Good question.  The team can take the Free Kick quickly, generally speaking referees are in favour of allowing a team to play at a high tempo providing it is done correctly and safely.

The place for the Free Kick is the centre of the scrum, obviously this place isn't accessible if the scrum is still formed, so moving backwards from the mark the nearest place to take the kick is at the base of the Number 8's feet.

A proviso against his would be if the scrum had collapsed for some reason, when the referee might want to make sure everyone got up safely before allowing the game to continue.
21.2 WHERE PENALTY AND FREE KICKS ARE TAKEN(a) The kicker must take the penalty or free kick at the mark or anywhere behind it on a linethrough the mark.....
It should also be noted that this action puts the teammates of the Free Kick taker who are still engaged in the scrum, in an offside position, and as such they cannot take part in the game until they have been put onside.

The same would apply for a Penalty Kick at a scrum.

The Rugby Ref

Hookers 'binding' in scrum

Hi rugby ref, 
I've been hooking 13 years. On occasion, an opposing hooker intentionally goes head to head during '"bind," blocking me from correct head position at the 'cup' of my opposing hooker and prop. Then at "set" the hooker ducks into the 'cup' of the shoulders.
The ref calls "set" once the front rows are ready. Are hookers head to head considered 'ready' for "set"?

Hi Kyle

The law states that front row players must interlock heads, ear to ear.  On the command "Crouch" and "Bind" front row players are expected to be in a position ready for "Set".
20.1 (f) Front rows coming together. First, the referee marks with a foot the place where thescrum is to be formed. Before the two front rows come together they must be standing notmore than an arm’s length apart. The ball is in the scrum half’s hands, ready to be thrown in.The front rows must crouch so that when they meet, each player’s head and shoulders areno lower than the hips. The front rows must interlock ear against ear so that no player’shead is next to the head of a team-mate.
The Rugby Ref would not consider hookers being forehead to forehead as being ready.  This is usually a tactic by one or the other hooker to intimidate the opposition, and as such it is a potential flashpoint.
The Rugby Ref would stand up a scrum forming in that way and explain that heads need to be "in the gap".  So the answer to your question is "No".

Thanks for the question
The Rugby Ref

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Place kick for touch

When Argentina played Australia, Sanchez tried a PK for goal, but the ball hit a post and rebounded into touch without another player touching it.  Wayne Barnes awarded the lineout to Australia in line with Clarification 2 of 2006 which laconically says:
"If the penalty kick is for goal, then it is a lineout defending team to throw in.Law 21.4(d)."
It also adds "If the penalty kick is for touch, therefore no place kick, then it is a lineout attacking team to throw in."
21.4 (d) is now 21.4 (e).  The kicker "must not place kick for touch"  If he does so, the sanction is an opposition scrum at the mark for the penalty.
If a "place kick FOR touch" implies intention, then in this case it was obviously accidental, and a PK into touch leaves the throw with the kicking team.
If a "place kick FOR touch" includes accidents, then the outcome should be a scrum.
How did the Designated Members reach their conclusion? 
Peter Shortell 
Hi Peter

Unfortunately I am not privy to the Designated Members decisions.  I do not even know who the Designated Members are?  So cannot help with how they came to this conclusion.

Like a policeman I do not write the laws, I just uphold them.  In the example, which was a kick for goal, Wayne Barnes got the decision correct.

Ours not to reason why......

The Rugby Ref

Friday, 16 September 2016

Another question about 19.8....

Hi .. You’ve addressed a query about 19.8.  I have another you might help with “A player must not take a quick throw-in after the lineout has formed” .. and quick throw ins are often prevented by a defending player (often a back) chasing the kick to form the lineout, but then retreats when the lineout participants arrive.  However 19.8(d)  says: “Players of either team must not leave the lineout once they have taken up a position in the lineout until the lineout has ended” Surely the chaser must remain in the lineout? Martin
Hi Martin

What we have to remember is that there are two types of throw in, a "Quick Throw In", and a "Lineout".   These are treated separately in the Laws.  What you describe is players forming a mini lineout to prevent a "Quick Thrown In, which cannot be taken once a lineout has formed.  This takes two players from each side.

Once the "Quick Throw In" has been voided, then we are looking for players arriving at the line of touch to form the "Lineout".

Technically you are correct in that they may have approached the line of touch, but in reality these players who race up to prevent the Quick Throw In are probably going to be fast wingers or backs.  They are a different set of players to the ones that then arrive for the full lineout.  The full lineout hasn't formed until the "proper" lineout players arrive.

It's an area where the law says one thing, but common sense says another.  As usual we have to look at why the law was written that way?  It was to prevent a set of players forming a lineout, then swapping some out to counter a change by the opposition, then maybe swapping again, delaying the lineout.

Remember, unlike other sports the Laws of Rugby Union are essentially a framework which the referee uses to facilitate a game of rugby.  There are many grey areas in the laws and very few black and white ones.

The Rugby Ref

Monday, 5 September 2016

Another line out question

There is a 30 sec time for forming a scrum after the ref has made his mark. What about a line out?Cheers.Lawrence
Hi Lawrence

Law 19.8 Forming a Lineout states
19.8(d) When the ball is in touch, every player who approaches the line of touch is presumed to doso to form a lineout. Players who approach the line of touch must do so without delay.Players of either team must not leave the lineout once they have taken up a position in thelineout until the lineout has ended.Sanction: Free Kick on the 15-metre line
The key phrase is "Players who approach the line of touch must do so without delay."
How long is without delay?  The law is silent on that, so it is up to the referee's discretion.  The Rugby Ref would suggest that if everyone is standing around waiting for one team, then the referee will tell them to hurry up, if he has to tell them more than once or twice, then he will be thinking about a Free Kick for delaying the lineout.  There is no hard and fast answer.

The Rugby Ref

Under 15 law at lineout

Having just refereed an Under 15 game today, with the new lineout regulations for U15s, there are a few questions left!
If the lineout is not straight, do normal rules apply, and non-throwing team have choice of lineout or scrum?
At what point does the lineout become 'contested' again?
If a team opts not to lift, presumably the lineout still has to be uncontested?
If the jumper is missed, is the lineout still uncontested?  So, with an overthrow to a jumper at 2, can team not throwing in then play the ball?
Should the referee give a signal/call when the lineout is now contested?  Presumably that is different to the line out being over (so catcher catches the ball, but is in the air, he is then lowered to the ground - the lineout is not over, but the opposition can now contest the ball - but this needs calling, I presume)
Many thanks for any help!
Chris Townsend

Hi Chris

The Rugby Ref has checked with a couple of Community Rugby foundations on this question.  The consensus was that the uncontested part of the lineout refers to the ball in the air.  So the ball has to be thrown straight, the lifters and jumpers can practise lifting along with catching the ball uncontested.  Once the ball has left the lineout or the jumper has returned to ground with the ball, we are back to normal play.

So to answer your questions:
Not straight, as per normal laws.
Contested once the ball leaves or the jumper returns to the ground.
No lift is still uncontested.
If the jumper is missed, the throwing in side must still gain first possession of the ball, so no.
Whether the referee calls this is up to him, I would suggest not.

The Rugby Ref

Monday, 18 July 2016

Law Amendments for the 2016 season in the RFU

Every four years, rugby's governing body undertakes a complete health-check of the game's playing trends across the Rugby World Cup cycle to ensure that the sport continues to develop at all levels around the world. This extensive process is undertaken with full union consultation and has player welfare, game simplification and fan experience at its core.

The main amendments are:

  • The replacement of a player injured following foul play does not count as one of the allotted number of replacements available to that team. Note this does not apply where interchanges are in use.
  • Advantage may be played following a scrum collapse if there is no risk to player safety
  • Play acting or “simulation” is specifically outlawed in the game in a move that formalises resistance to a practice that has been creeping into the game in recent years. Any player who dives or feigns injury in an effort to influence the match officials will be liable for sanction
  • Teams must be ready to form a scrum within 30 seconds of the mark being made, unless the referee stops the clock for an injury or another stoppage
  • At a re-set scrum following a 90-degree wheel, the ball is thrown in by the team that previously threw it in rather than the team not in possession
  • The scrum-half of the team not in possession at a scrum may not move into the space between the flanker and number eight
  • When the ball has been at the number eight’s feet in a stationary scrum for 3-5 seconds, the referee will call “use it” and the attacking team must use the ball immediately
  • In addition, an important maul law application guideline, that has been in place in the southern hemisphere since 1 January, will be enforced in the north. Specifically, the ball must now be moved backwards hand-to-hand once the maul has formed, with a player not being allowed to physically move or slide to the back of the maul when he is in possession of the ball. Nor are long placements permitted, this is the passing of the ball over the heads of other maul players to a player further back. 
The Rugby Ref