Thursday, 9 February 2017

Set Scrum

Dear ref
during a set scrum is one of the locks allowed to slip his binding  of his second row partner and drop his shoulder  allowing him to reach into the scrum as a wyn-jones did last week
HI Martin

The Rugby Ref didn't see the incident you were referring to, but locks must maintain a continuous bind with each other and with the front row for the length of the scrum. Handling the ball in the scrum (if that's what happened) is also illegal.

20.3(f) Binding by all other players. All players in a scrum, other than front-row players, must bind on a lock’s body with at least one arm prior to the scrum engagement. The locks must bind with the props in front of them. No other player other than a prop may hold an opponent.  Sanction: Penalty kick
20.9(b) All players: Handling in the scrum. Players must not handle the ball in the scrum or pick it up with their legs.  Sanction: Penalty kick
The Rugby Ref

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Why we play the game - By Rupert McCall

When the battle scars have faded
And the truth becomes a lie.
And the weekend smell of liniment
Could almost make you cry.

When the last ruck’s well behind you
And the man that ran now walks
It doesn’t matter who you are
The mirror sometimes talks

Have a good hard look old son!
The melon’s not that great
The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways
Used to be dead straight

You’re an advert for arthritis
You’re a thoroughbred gone lame
Then you ask yourself the question
Why the hell you played the game?

Was there logic in the head knocks?
In the corks and in the cuts?
Did common sense get pushed aside?
By manliness and guts?

Do you sometimes sit and wonder
Why your time would often pass
In a tangled mess of bodies
With your head up someone’s arse?

With a thumb hooked up your nostril
Scratching gently on your brain
And an overgrown Neanderthal
Rejoicing in your pain!

Mate – you must recall the jersey
That was shredded into rags
Then the soothing sting of Dettol
On a back engraved with tags!

It’s almost worth admitting
Though with some degree of shame
That your wife was right in asking
Why the hell you played the game?

Why you’d always rock home legless
Like a cow on roller skates
After drinking at the clubhouse
With your low down drunken mates

Then you’d wake up – check your wallet
Not a solitary coin
Drink Berocca by the bucket
Throw an ice pack on your groin

Copping Sunday morning sermons
About boozers being losers
While you limped like Quasimodo
With a half a thousand bruises!

Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain
And curse Sambuca’s name
Would always pose the question
Why the hell you played the game!

And yet with every wound re-opened
As you grimly reminisce it
Comes the most compelling feeling yet
God, you bloody miss it!

From the first time that you laced a boot
And tightened every stud
That virus known as rugby
Has been living in your blood

When you dreamt it when you played it
All the rest took second fiddle
Now you’re standing on the sideline
But your hearts still in the middle

And no matter where you travel
You can take it as expected
There will always be a breed of people
Hopelessly infected

If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him
Like a gravitating force
With a common understanding
And a beer or three, of course

And as you stand there telling lies
Like it was yesterday old friend
You’ll know that if you had the chance
You’d do it all again

You see – that’s the thing with rugby
It will always be the same
And that, I guarantee
Is why the hell you played the game!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Tackle Query...

A situation arose in an u13 game I was reffing when a defender went to tackle the attacking player who had the ball but as they made contact the ball carrier put the ball under one arm and 'tackled the tackler' by lifting his leg causing him to go to ground. I played on at the time but on reflection I wonder if this constituted tackling a player without the ball?
Mike Owen
Oswestry RFC

Hi Mike

As you will be aware, at that level the referee is also part coach.  What you describe is not something we want to be encouraging (you are correct in that technically he is playing a man without the ball), so needs to be dealt with at the time.  By allowing the game to play on you are missing the opportunity to educate the player, so he may think this is acceptable practise.

The Rugby Refs advice would be to stop the game and award a penalty for playing the man without the ball, but don't restart without first having a word with the player to explain what he has done wrong.  The ball carrier may fend off the other player (nb: not at all age groups), but may not attempt to tackle him.

This is not something The Rugby Ref has come across before Mike, so thanks for highlighting it.

The Rugby Ref

Is this a penalty?

Hello Rugby Ref,
This Saturday during our match the opposition threw a loose pass, which went way over the receiver and towards the touch line at about half way. This left me in a race against my opposite number for the ball. I could see I was going to get to the ball before my opponent and that there was a big empty space behind him, with the ball still rolling close to touch I opted to kick. I made a good clean contact with the ball and sent in down the line towards towards my opponents 10 meter line. which should have left me in a race against the full back who was coming back from the opposite side of the pitch. however the oppositions winger did a slide tackle very much like in the game of football. his feet and legs made contact with mine and wiped me clean off my feet. The contact was made literally a split second after I had kicked the ball so it was no question of being "late".
No decision was made by our referee and play continued they recovered the ball and went on to score there only try in the opposite side of the field.
My questions to you are.
1. Should this have been given as a penalty. In my understanding tripping isn't a legal form of tackling and should be no different in this scenario?
2. Could it possibly have been a yellow card as it was in my opinion cynical? I was favourite to recover the ball and leave myself 1v1 with the fullback
3. If he had instead of tripping me up, tackled me instead would this be considered fair or foul? 
4. Are you classed to have had possession of the ball when kicking a lose ball meaning somebody could tackle you to stop you chasing the ball?
I look Forward to your reply
Kind Regards

Hi Adam

A tackle is defined as the ball carrier being held and brought to ground, so this was not a tackle as you describe it.  From your description the Rugby Ref would have called it dangerous play, so it would result in a Penalty Kick. Dangerous play could also incur a Yellow Card.

If he had tackled you he would have been tackling a player without the ball (as you fly hacked the ball you were never in possession of it), so that would have been a penalty also.

Hopefully that has answered all your questions.

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Advantage query

Hello the Rugby Ref!
I had two queries about advantage I wondered if you could help with.
1) Law 8.3e states the following:
After the ball has been made dead. Advantage cannot be played after the ball has been made dead.
So does this mean advantage finishes if the team appears to deliberately put the ball into touch (e.g. kick up field)? And what if they did it accidentally (e.g. fling a long pass to the winger but it goes out instead)? Even if you're playing penalty advantage for an infringement, it becomes a lineout for the opposite team?
2) Law 8.5b states that:
If advantage is being played following an infringement by one team and then the other team commit an infringement, the referee blows the whistle and applies the sanctions associated with the first infringement. If either infringement is for foul play, the referee applies the appropriate sanction for that offence. The referee may also temporarily suspend, or order off, the offending player.
I wondered what you do if both infringements are of equal weight, e.g both penalty offences (such as offside) or both foul play offences (e.g. dangerous tackle)? Who gets the penalty?
Thank you very much
Melissa Wright

Hi Melissa

Good questions.

Question 1. Advantage cannot be played after the ball goes dead. So let's suppose the blue team is playing with penalty advantage and kick the ball ahead.  It hits a red player and goes into touch. The blue team cannot take a quick throw in and continue to play with the penalty advantage.

The ball was made dead from going into touch, so you cannot continue with the advantage, it must be either advantage over, or go back for the penalty.  For that you have to think "what would the team reasonably have expected to get from the original offence".

In your scenarios, if they accidentally threw the ball into touch from a wild pass from a penalty advantage I would probably come back for the original offence.
If they kicked the ball ahead (out of free choice, not under pressure) from a scrum advantage I would call advantage over while the ball was in the air because they had the freedom to play the ball as they chose.  The result of the kick is almost immaterial, the advantage doesn't allow them to get a second kick if the first one is bad because the most they would have got from a scrum advantage is clean ball from the scrum and a kick ahead.
A kick ahead from a penalty advantage is a different thing because what they would have expected to get from the penalty is a kick to touch with their throw in.  If they don't get something similar then we would come back for the penalty.

Question 2. Foul play trumps a technical offence such as a knock on; it is more serious.  For two technical offences, such as two knock on's, you come back for the first one.  If the second offence is foul play then you go with that.  If both offences are for foul play you must judge which is the more serious.Think of it this way, having advantage does not give the other team free rein to punch someone without sanction. If they did that they would pay the consequences for their actions.

Hope that all makes sense.
The Rugby Ref

Friday, 16 December 2016

When is it not a ruck?

I have played and/or coached rugby union in Scotland and the US since 1974. I am currently an assistant coach for a U19 men's team. 
The definition of a ruck includes "...close around the ball on the ground."  So how close is close? How far away is no longer "close?"
I often see a first offensive rucker fly in "through the gate" going 1 or 2 or more meters past the tackled player (and ball) to "clear the threat" and then binding (actually tackling) a defensive player who may or may not be advancing "through the gate" on his side. Is that a ruck? When is it illegal, perhaps a violation like tackling a defensive player who does not have the ball or maybe obstruction?
Particularly in this setting where the first offensive rucker is 1, 2 or more meters away from the tackled player & ball, if the first defensive rucker simply escorts/allows or even binds and pulls that first offensive rucker backwards a few more meters down the pitch away from the tackled player & ball, when can a second defensive rucker just step into the wide open space to "enter the gate" on his side to either contest for the ball and/or try to unseat the "sealer" (second offensive rucker)?      
Claude Hughes
Chapel Hill Highlanders
Hi Claude

"Close around the ball on the ground" means the ball has to be in between them in some way.  It's close around, rather than close to (as in near to). Generally we would expect the ruckers to be over the ball as shown in the diagram in the law book.

If an attacking player went beyond the ball before the ruck formed then he would potentially be in an offside position (ahead of the player from his team who last played the ball) and we would expect him to move away and not obstruct.  This is often referred to as "taking space".
If the ruck is formed we have offside lines and if the ruck is then driven off or beyond the ball, then the ruck is over.  We are back to open play and anyone can step in and play the ball, or potentially form a new ruck.

Thanks for the questions
The Rugby Ref

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

In goal area rules (Laws).

I was wondering if you could help me with some clarification regarding the in goal area.
In the following video at 2:10 Northampton kick the ball into Newcastle's in goal area when Andy Goode then walks the ball out.
Andy Goode's funny interactions with Wayne Barnes
As I believe the rules outline, and believe what happened, is that this results in a 22 drop out? As Northampton kicked the ball into the in goal area, it doesn't matter Newcastle took it out of play. Firstly could you clarify if this is indeed correct?
Leading on from this:
If the ball were kicked/carried into the in goal area by the attacking team, and a defending player kicks it out over the dead ball line, does this result in a 22?
If the ball were kicked/carried into the in goal area by the attacking team, and a defending player drops it backwards accidentally over the dead ball line, does this result in a 22?
Many thanks for taking the time to read and respond!
HI Ali

If the ball goes into in-goal and is then made dead by any means, you are indeed correct in your assertion that it is who puts the ball into in-goal that is important, not who makes it dead.

If the attackers put the ball into in-goal and it is made dead, result 22m drop out.
If the defenders put the ball into in-goal and it is made dead, result attacking 5m scrum.

Running, walking or kicking the ball over the dead ball line or touch-in-goal are all legitimate ways of making the ball dead.

On your last point, what you cannot do is "intentionally" knock, place, push or throw the ball dead.  The word intentionally is important, but it is up to the referee to decide if a ball was made dead in this way intentionally or accidentally.  If this is done to prevent a probable try, then a Penalty Try would result.

So the answer to all your questions is Yes, as described a 22 would result in all cases.

The Rugby Ref