Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Keeping the ball out of touch

During the Wales v Australia game when the Australian number 10 kicked the ball for touch a Welsh player jumped from the touchline out of play to knock the ball back in field before his feet touched the ground. Haven’t the rules changed so that as soon as the ball has crossed over the touchline the ball is deemed to be in touch and can’t be knocked back in (as opposed to previous law)
Hi David

Thanks for the question, it's a good one.  You are correct that the law changed, but the part you are thinking of is when a player catches the ball while stood on the ground, then the plane of touch is relevant as to who has taken the ball into touch.

For the incident in questions we have to look at Law 18.2.C
18.2 The ball is not in touch or touch-in-goal if :
c. A player jumps from the playing area and knocks (or catches and releases) the ball
back into the playing area, before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, regardless of
whether the ball reached the plane of touch.
So the Assistant Referee on the touchline (I think it was Nigel Owens) got it absolutely correct.

Thanks for highlighting it
The Rugby Ref

Monday, 23 September 2019

Player clothing - Padded shorts

I see that law 4.5f f. Shorts with padding sewn into them, can't be worn.
Does this include the lycra type under shorts or just to the typical cotton over shorts?
I have noticed several players in the opening games of the WC wearing what appear to be thigh/hip padding in their lycra under shirts. French No 6 for example.
I appreciate some 2nd rows tape padding to the tops of their thighs.

Hi Rob

You are quite correct.
5. A player may not wear:
f. Shorts with padding sewn into them.
Shorts are defined as being worn 'over' underwear, the "lycra type under shorts" you mention are defined as underwear.  So strictly speaking what you have described is legal.  It would however need to satisfy Regulation 12 on players clothing.

4. Banned items of clothing
Other than the items of clothing set out at 1(a)-(f), 2 and 3 above, a player must not wear any item of which any part is thicker than 5mm when uncompressed or is denser than 60 kilograms per cubic metre unless specified within this Regulation 12/Law 4. Where this overall thickness consists of padded material covered by fabric, 5mm is the maximum measured thickness for the combination of the uncompressed padding and the fabric. The fabric can contribute up to a maximum measured thickness of 1mm on each side of the padding.
This standard concerns manufacturers and testers of Rugby players’ clothing and should be read in conjunction with the current version of the World Rugby’s LAW 4 concerning players’ dress and Regulation 12. Particular attention is drawn to Regulation 12, Clause 4 above.

The Rugby Ref

Monday, 9 September 2019


A fellow referee asked me this today, wasn’t 100% sure of the answer, though I thought it was limited only by the length of the pitch.
How many times can you march players back for dissent?
Jim Hawkins

Hi Jim

The law states that a second infringement can be marched back 10m, but doesn't mention a third or fourth infringement.  In theory you could keep marching them back, but this would be poor management.  You could also issue a yellow card for a subsequent infringement.

The Rugby Ref would suggest though that at this point you could call time off, speak to the Captains about your decision and allow everyone to calm down.  If players are annoyed about something it serves no good to wind them up further by constantly marching them back.  Instead deal with and diffuse the situation.

Remember also that if you do have to march a team back 10m you can march slowly (to allow people to calm down) explaining your decision as you go.

This is all about good management.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Kick Off Not 10

At the start of the second half in yesterday's Bledisloe Cup match, the ABs tried a short kick.  It hit the ground short of the 10m line and was promptly snaffled by an Australian - still short of the 10m line.  Unfortunately he knocked on.
Jaco Peyper explained that when the ball hit the ground first, it had not reached the 10m line, so that was the first infringement and he offered Australia the options.
My understanding is that the sanction only applies if the fact that the ball fails to reach the 10m line is the fault of the kicking team.  The law does not specify that the ball must reach the 10m line while in the air. 
It is well established that the opponents can play the ball before it reaches the 10m line and Peyper's explanation implies that the referee is playing advantage if the opponents gather the ball after a short bounce and play continues.
Was Peyper wrong?

The law states:
Law 12
6. The ball must reach the 10-metre line. Sanction: The non-kicking team has the optionof the kick being retaken or a scrum.
7. If the ball reaches the 10-metre line but is then blown back or if an opponent plays theball before it reaches the 10-metre line, play continues.
 So the Australian player 'played' the ball.
Played: The ball is played when it is intentionally touched by a player
 So play continues, if the Australian then knocks it would be a scrum.  The Rugby Ref has never seen a precedent for playing advantage because the ball didn't go 10m.  By playing the ball the Australian has accepted the kick off; what happens after that is up to him.

Was Peyper wrong?  Let's just say his interpretation was different to the accepted norm'?

Thanks for a good observation
The Rugby Ref

Sunday, 11 August 2019

Jumping into contact

Hey Rugby Ref
I'm a newly qualified ref in 2019.
I am watching the SA v Argentina game on Saturday 10 Aug evening, in the first few mins an SA player jumps into contact, refere Poite awards a penalty to SA for Argentina player tackling player in the air.  Why wasn't the SA player penalised for dangerous play...
Why was their no offence for jumping into contact, as this seems open to abuse to draw a penalty,  if a player is about to be tackled he/she can jump or lift feet off the ground.
Interested to hear your thoughts.

Hi Rob
Good question.The law does say that you cannot tackle a player who is off the ground.
Law 917. A player must not tackle, charge, pull, push or grasp an opponent whose feet are off the ground.
However we have to consider that a player running with the ball has his feet off the ground most of the time.  In addition a player should not be able to avoid a tackle by jumping at the last moment so that he cannot be tackled.

The general principle that most referees apply is that if a player as to jump to intercept a catch or a kicked ball, he should be allowed to return to the ground before being tackled.  This is a simple safety issue.

There is no specific offence of jumping into a tackle (maybe there should be), but there is a catch all offence of reckless play that puts the player or other players into danger.
Law 911. Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others.
 If a player jumps into a tackle and leads with his boot or knee, that would be dangerous.

At the end of the day its a judgement call and sometimes referees will get it wrong.

Thanks for the question
The Rugby Ref

Scrum put in...

Why do referees allow scrum halves to put the ball into their own  second rows now
when the law says he has to put the ball in straight.
You can even see from the angle the scrum half stands at that this is exactly what he is
going to do.
If referees are not going to enforce the law what is the point of having a scrum when
you could just have a play the ball as in rugby league?
Hi Don

Most referees would agree with you on this.  Most referees officiate at grass roots rugby where the straight put in is enforced.  Don't confuse TV showbiz rugby with proper rugby as played every Saturday and Sunday by thousands of players.  TV rugby is under pressure to keep the game going and minimise stoppages. 

The Rugby Ref

Monday, 29 July 2019

Position of thrower's feet at a lineout

In the 2017 laws, the only requirement in Law 19.6 is "The player must not step into the field of play when the ball is thrown".  However Law 6.B.5 (d) Exception 1 says: "When the player throwing in puts any part of either foot in the field of play the touch judge or assistant referee keeps the flag up."
This was never enforced - all throwers stand with feet crossing the line.
I was therefore pleased to see that in 2018, Law 18.22 says: "The player throwing in the ball stands on the mark of touch with both feet outside the field of play . The player may not step into the field of play until the ball has been thrown." 
Standing with a foot  on the touchline means the foot (and player) is out of play.  Excellent!  Unfortunately Law 6.26 c. still  says: "When the ball is thrown in, the assistant referee or touch judge lowers the flag, with the following exceptions:
i. when the player throwing in puts any part of either foot in the field of play."
Personally I shall continue to regard "both feet on the touchline" as legal even if the toes do overlap it.
Peter Shortell
Gloucester & District Referees Society

Thanks for raising this Peter. 

The Rugby Ref is in full agreement.  Feet on the line being ok would seem to be a pragmatic position to take.  There are bigger fish to fry and more important battles to fight than stopping play for this.