Friday, 17 March 2017

Who would want to be a referee?

Rugby presents a unique challenge in that the referee is required to make a specific decision about a contested tackle almost 200 times a match (once every 30 seconds), and this decision is multi-dimensional, instantaneous and open to interpretation.‪..‬

Consider that a typical match has about 170 rucks (or contests for the ball in a tackle) , and you realise that there are probably 100 decisions (because not all are contested the same way) where the referee must interpret, in a split second, a dizzying array of laws, and where each decision has implications for what follows.

Why do we do it?

Because we love it.

The Rugby Ref

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

The Top 100 Websites For Rugby Players (...and Referees) has made the list of the Top 100 websites for rugby players, check out the full list with the link below:

Rugby Warfare's Top 100 websites for Rugby Players

Don't forget if you are a player and have a question about the Laws of the Game you can email The Rugby Ref using the "Ask The Ref" link on the right of this page.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday, 2 March 2017

When does a ruck cease to be a ruck?

My question: when does a ruck end? I think you are going to say: either when the ball successfully leaves it (play on), or when it becomes unplayable (scrum to someone, or worse)……
…….But what I am really getting at is: can the defending team effectively end a ruck by disengaging from it? I can see nothing in the laws that says it ends if there become too few players involved.
(I have not been back through the whole of the Italy v England game, but I am fairly sure that in a number of cases an Italian player committed to the ruck (ruck formed, as in my view you don't need to wait for the ref to say so) and then decided against it and backed out again. I am not in any way criticising Italy for what they did, but I am interested to know if M. Poite policed it correctly - I am expecting that we will see this tactic at club level now and we are working on solutions to it). 
Hi Charlie

Good question following on from the "not engaging" Italy tactic.

Your first statement is correct:  The ball leaves (successful end); The ball is unplayable (unsuccessful end).
16.6 SUCCESSFUL END TO A RUCKA ruck ends successfully when the ball leaves the ruck, or when the ball is on or over the goal line.
16.7 UNSUCCESSFUL END TO A RUCK(a) A ruck ends unsuccessfully when the ball becomes unplayable and a scrum is ordered.
 So to move to your second question.  If players from one team leave the ruck have we satisfied 16.6 or 16.7 above?  The answer is 'No' we haven't, so the ruck still exists.

The Rugby Ref also thinks that Romain Poite may have got it wrong on a couple of occasions, but we are talking about split second decisions in a dynamic moving environment. You turn to check the offside lines for a second and in that moment someone can engage to form a ruck and then leave again, so we can't blame the referee.  As ever play to the whistle.  Romain Poite was very good at verbally explaining to the players what phase of play they were in to try and avoid any issues.  "Tackle only".  "Ruck formed".

To paraphrase M. Poite "I am a referee not a coach", but most referees have played the game.  If Italy are pushing players forward to surround the tackle area then they must be leaving holes in their defensive line, so pick and drive should exploit those holes.  Once beyond the line you can then pass out to your wings. This is effectively what England did, but it took them around 33 minutes to work it out.

The Rugby Ref

Monday, 27 February 2017

Use It!

Based upon this Sunday’s “interesting” approach to the ruck by Italy…my question is,
Can the referee still require the scrum-half to “use it” if no ruck or maul is called? (As he did in the Italy v England game)
If not, then there might be  even more “interesting” outcomes.
Julian Jones

Hi Julian

First we need to establish that the Italian approach was "Not" to let a ruck form.  There plan was that if no ruck is formed following a tackle, then there are no offside lines, so their players can go round to the far side of the tackle area and block the 9 to 10 line.  They do have to be careful not to breach the tackle zone, or they are guilty of not entering through the gate.  The tackle zone is an area 1m from the tackle, all round it.

The Law Book mentions "Use It" in the laws on the scrum, ruck and maul.  The lawmakers probably never envisioned that it would be required at a tackle only situation.  However we cannot let the ball sit at the back of a tackle forever, so it would be reasonable for the referee to call "use it" in that situation.

We also have law 15.6 at our disposal.

15.6 (e) Any player who gains possession of the ball at the tackle must play the ball immediately by moving away or passing or kicking the ball.
Sanction: Penalty kick

Thanks for raising this point
The Rugby Ref

Feeding Scrums

Has the law changed as the ball now seems to be put in behind the front row instead of straight down the middle for the Hooker to hook?
Hi Steve

No the law hasn't changed and we still penalise it at grass roots.
What you might see on the television is a different game.
20.6  (d) The scrum half must throw in the ball straight along the middle line, so that it first touches the ground immediately beyond the width of the nearer prop’s shoulders.
Sanction: Free Kick
The Rugby Ref

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!