Wednesday, 18 March 2015

22 Restart or Scrum?

A question to "Ask The Ref"

 Team with the ball are 5m from their own try line. They pass the ball back into their own 'in goal' area, attempted kick is charged down by opposition and ball goes dead. 
What is the correct decision? 
Regards,  Damo
 Hi Damo

Assuming the kick didn't leave in-goal, the defending team took the ball into in-goal, and then the ball was made dead, so it is an attacking 5m scrum.

Unless, the kick left in-goal and the charge down was in the field of play and deflected the ball back into in-goal, in which case the charge downer is the one who took the ball into in-goal. That would be a 22 restart as the attacker put the ball into in-goal.

The key here is "who put the ball into in-goal" and not "who made it dead".

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Offside At The Ruck

John Tsang asks...."If I am defending at a ruck, can I move off the defensive line as soon as the scrum half have his hands on the ball?"

Or to put it another way........When is the ball out of the ruck?
The IRB have helpfully cleared this up for us once and for all.  The ball is out when it is lifted off the floor (or beyond the back foot of the ruck).  So to answer John's questions, NO! You cannot move in front of the offside line when the scrum half has his hands on the ball.  You must wait until he lifts the ball clear of the floor.

Offside at the ruck. When a scrum half attempts to retrieve the ball from a ruck, the ball is not out until that player has picked the ball up from the ground. In the clip the scrum half is taken out by the player before the ball is off the ground and this would be deemed to be offside by the player tackling the scrum half. If, however, the scrum half had picked up the ball and a defending player tackles the scrum half, that player does so without sanction.

See the video here: IRB Law Application Guidelines

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

How far does the mantra, the referee is the sole judge of fact and law stretch?

Hello, how far does the mantra, the referee is the sole judge of fact and law stretch? 
What happens when Team A plays against Team B and the referee agrees that Team A won the game. Team B is not happy with this result and decides to lodge an appeal against the decision. Can a union or rugby body alter a result after it has been signed off by the referee appointed by such a union or rugby body?? Are they in their right to do so or does it always stands that The referee is the sole judge of fact (score in this case) and law.
 Hope to hear from you. Thank you Charlie 

 Hi Charlie

DURING THE MATCH 6.A.4 THE DUTIES OF THE REFEREE IN THE PLAYING ENCLOSURE (a) The referee is the sole judge of fact and of Law during a match. The referee must apply fairly all the Laws of the Game in every match.

If you believe the referee has made a mistake with adding up the scores, then by all means consult with him and the other coach immediately after the game.  It is entirely possible that he has marked all the scores correctly, but just added them up wrong in the heat of the moment.  This also happens to coaches!

However, if the referee believes the score to be correct, and the team are adamant that it is not, then all they can do is contact the league or cup committee.  Be warned though, that without any evidence, such as a full match video, it is unlikely the committee will contradict the refeee.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Was the Ref correct?

Hi Ref, At the weekend in an U16 Game in Swansea, the ref blew for a penalty infringement at a ruck on the half way line. The scrum half took a quick tap penalty from where the ref was standing. However, the ref stopped play and awarded a scrum feed to the other team due to the scrum half not taking the quick tap penalty from the correct mark. The ref said the mark was not where he was positioned but further in field. Was the ref correct, or should the penalty simply have been re-taken from the correct mark? Many thanks. Confused-ish
Hi there

By the letter of the law the referee was absolutely correct. 

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 line through the mark. If the place for a penalty or free kick is within 5 metres of the opponents’ goal line, the mark for the kick is 5 metres from the goal line, opposite the place of infringement. 
(b) When a penalty or free kick is awarded in in-goal, the mark for the kick is in the field of play, 5 metres from the goal line, in line with the place of infringement. 
Sanction: Any infringement by the kicker’s team results in a scrum 5 metres from the goal line in line with the mark. The opposing team throws in the ball. 

At lower levels the referee may decide to simply let the scrum half retake it from the correct spot, however the referee might equally have already spoken to the scrum half about this, or might have covered it in his pre-game brief? 

It's a judgement call sometimes, but the referee was correct. 

The Rugby Ref

Monday, 26 August 2013


If I am a defending player and a ruck is formed, at what point am I/we allowed to touch the ball with our hands?

Hi Phil, thanks for the question.

As you have rightly pointed out, once a ruck has formed you cannot use your hands to win the ball.

16.4 (b)Players must not handle the ball in a ruck except after a tackle if they are on their feet and have their hands on the ball before the ruck is formed. Sanction: Penalty kick

So when can you start using our hands again?
Well, not until the ruck is over, so when is that?

16.6 Successful end to a ruck?  A ruck ends successfully when the ball leaves the ruck, or when the ball is on or over the goal line.

The usual question here that referees are asked is "when has the ball left the ruck?"  The law doesn't actually say, which means (like many laws in Rugby Union) it is up to the referees judgement.  

The Rugby Ref says the ruck is over when the ball leaves the ruck, which means the confines of everyone involved in the ruck.  Imagine stretching a rubber band around all the players in the ruck; that is the players on their feet competing for the ball with their feet, and the players on the ground unable to move away, or play the ball.  If the ball is inside this imaginary rubber band, then the ball is still in the ruck and can't be handled.   Once the ball pops outside the rubber band, the ruck is over and can be picked up by any player in a legal position to do so. 

So Phil, the short answer to your question in "not until the ball leaves the ruck".

The Rugby Ref

Friday, 9 August 2013

Hey Ref......

Hey ref,
My name is Toby Teakell from Texas. I have a buddy on my team from France who insists on that he is correct in this matter because he has been playing for 15 years and that Americans do not know rugby.
We were playing a friendly in sevens the other day where he found himself on the receiving end of one of my kickoffs where I grubbered a ball 11 meters in which my teammate picked up tossed back to me and ran for a try. This led to a French ego breakdown in which I am still receiving links to laws and texts of how I wasn't allowed to do that.
According to irb laws 13.5-13.7 the ball has to go 10 meters, but does not state anything about the ball being in the air for 10 meters, just that it has to eventually get there.
Am I being too technical when reading the laws or is my friend being ignorant towards someone that does know how to read.. That happens to be an "American rugby player" that didn't grow up with the sport?
Thanks,Toby Teakell
 Hi Toby

Thanks for the question.  You are correct in that the ball needs to travel 10m, but it doesn't need to travel that distance in a single go.  So a grubber kick that goes 11m before anyone touches it is legal, providing the grubber starts with a drop kick.

Well done.

The Rugby Ref

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Rugby Contact

These days a lot is made of defense tackling with no arms - ie shoulder charging the offensive player or simply running into him.  But why is it not an offence if the attacking player simply turns his shoulder into the defender?  
Also a hand off in the face is a valid attacking tactic but if a defender pushed his hand into the attackers face then he would be penalised.
Why the disparity?  For me the attacker should not be allowed to run shoulder first into a defender as he is likely to injure him.
ThanksSteve Ditchburn


The difference is that a tackle is an offensive move and the law states how it should be done safely.  The tackler is driving into the ball carrier, the momentum is with him.  The ball carrier is merely defending himself and has no energy or momentum going into the collision.  It's all about safety.

The Rugby Ref