Wednesday, 4 March 2020

Taking a penalty kick incorrectly

Has the law on how to take a penalty kick been changed?
2017 Law 21.4 "Sanction: Unless otherwise stated in Law any infringement by the kicker's team results in a scrum at the mark.  The opposing team throw in the ball."
The current Law book uses the same criteria but gives no specific Sanction.
We were told there were no changes in the "simplified" rewrite, so is this an error or a change?  Should we apply 9.7 (a) " A player must not intentionally infringe any law of the game" and award a Free Kick?
Locally referees often merely require a correct retake for the first offence.
 Hi Peter

Been a while since you submitted this question, but The Rugby Ref has only recently been able to get a definitive answer.

You are correct in saying that match officials were told there were no changes in law when the law book was "rewritten" for clarity.  However we have to be pragmatic, that information is now three years old and we have to work with what we have, which is the current 2020 law book.

The Rugby Ref has now sought advice from three or four Premiership Referees, who all came to the same conclusion.  If a kick is taken incorrectly (from the wrong spot, wrong type of kick etc) then the kick has in fact not legally taken place, and the game has not restarted.  So we bring them back to take it again correctly.

However if this is done repeatedly then the referee may consider "repeat offending" or "intentionally infringing", but good game management should prevent things getting that far.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Lazy runners & deliberate actions

Dear Ref,
I am familiar with the rules\laws for lazy  runners, but I want to question the actions of the attacking team if the scrum half deliberately passes a ball into a retreating lazy runner who has his hands up signalling that he knows he is offside.
I am not saying that he was making a pass and the ball hit a lazy runner; what I’m saying is that he picked up the wall and post it directly into the lazy river and there was no one in line of the boss so he deliberately, almost cynically, threw the ball at a player and then shouted “lazy runner”
Hi Simon

Technically the lazy runner is offside and interfering with play and this will result in a penalty.  The fact that the lazy runner puts his hands in the air just highlights the fact that he is offside.

The simple answer is that if the lazy runner is not in the vicinity of the scrum half this can't happen, so don't put yourself in a position where the opposition can take advantage of you being offside.

However The Rugby Ref would be talking to the scrum half about appealing and not trying to "buy a penalty".

The Rugby Ref

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Offside at a Quick Throw In?

Law 10.9 A player who is offside at a ruck, maul, scrum or lineout remains offside, even after the ruck, maul, scrum or lineout has ended.
Does this apply to a QTI?
Law 10 is the offside law.

Technically Quick Throw ins (QTI) fall under the same law as Lineouts...Law 18, so you could say yes.  But we usually say that offside lines disappear when the ball goes dead, so you could say no?

Sometimes as a referee you just have to think about what the law makers were trying to achieve, combined with the principles and spirit of the game.

So we have to look at the purpose of the offside law, which is to create space and allow free flowing rugby rather than a static slogfest.  When the ball goes into touch the purpose of a QTI is to get the game going quickly.  There are specific laws that stop the opposition preventing a QTI by standing in the 5m channel, again to allow quick free flowing rugby.

Essentially if a player is in an offside position when the ball goes into touch (in front of a kick which bounces into touch for instance) he shouldn't benefit from being offside.  So if he inhibits the QTI (but is outside the 5m channel) the referee could penalise him for being in an offside position prior to the ball going into touch.

If the QTI is taken and that team carry the ball 5m, or pass or kick the ball then the offside player would be put onside, so let's play on.

The last scenario is that a QTI is taken and the receiver is immediately tackled (before he can pass or run) by a player who was in an offside position when the ball went into touch.  In that case he should be penalised for being offside prior to the QTI because he is shutting down space and not playing within the spirit of the law. 

Otherwise we could have the scenario where a player is offside after a breakdown way up the field in the opposition half, but instead of getting onside he just stays there (not interfering with play) until the opposition have put him onside by passing and running the ball, allowing him to then benefit by being in their defense.  Clearly that would be ridiculous.

Great question, difficult to answer.

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

In Goal warm up equipment

At the weekend there was a point in the game at Northampton when a player had been warming up in the in goal area.
There was a tackle bag in in-goal 5 cones and over 10 strips (old ladder sprint warm up kit)  If the ball had hit any of these what would the referee have done. Does it matter whether attack or defence had left it there?
Cannot find anything in the laws that cater for this.
Also in the match from a kick off the ball went long and was going straight out. The attacker leapt and with one hand batted the ball back in play. It went forward. He had made no attempt to catch it and had very little chance of doing so. In this current climate of deliberate knock on being so harsh on poorly judged attempted interceptions. Would you (general refereeing) consider this a deliberate knock on?
Do you think this should be relaxed again to be just deliberate blocking of a pass, should this include deliberate blocking of a pass even if the ball does not go forward?
I am so glad I have found a site that might help with my knowledge of the game.
Many Thanks
Graham Sutton
Hi Graham

A couple of good questions there.

Equipment in-goal.  Really this shouldn't be allowed.  Players warming up in-goal are fine as they have to warm up somewhere and in-goal is usually the only place available at that level.  But equipment should be banned from in-goal during the game.

You are correct in the law being silent on this situation.  The closest example is Law 6.12
12. If the ball is touched by the referee or other non-player in in-goal, the referee judges
what would have happened next and awards a try or a touch down at the place where
the contact took place.
In your example the ball touches equipment not a player, so strictly by the letter of the law we would play on unless there is a danger to players from the equipment.  In that case a stoppage for any other reason would come into play, which would result in a scrum to the team going forward, which would usually be the attacking team.

Regarding your second question, it would be very harsh to giver a deliberate knock on under those circumstances.  The player is trying to keep the ball in play (positive play) and is probably unaware, once in the air, of exactly which direction he is facing.

The deliberate blocking of a pass versus a genuine attempt at an interception is very much up to the referee to decide.  There are so many variables that sometimes we just have to accept the referees decision based on his knowledge of the game and empathy with the players.  Blocking a pass without knocking it on will always be allowed, otherwise interceptions would cease to exist, in The Rugby Referees opinion. 

Having said all that guidelines are released from time to time on how referees should judge what is a deliberate knock on.  This is to try and gain consistency in refereeing.

Glad you like the site
The Rugby Ref

Monday, 18 November 2019

Player running with the ball is about to be tackled...

Is a player going forward with the ball allowed to go to the ground to avoid being tackled by an opponent?
Hi and thanks for the question.  There is no law that prevents a player from voluntarily going to ground with the ball.  However once he has done so he is out of the game and must immediately do one of three things.
Law 13
The game is played only by players who are on their feet.
1. Players, who go to ground to gather the ball or who go to ground with the ball, must immediately:
a. Get up with the ball; or
b. Play (but not kick) the ball; or
c. Release the ball.
Sanction: Penalty. 
2. Once the ball is played or released, players on the ground must immediately either move away from the ball or get up.
Sanction: Penalty.
3. A player on the ground without the ball is out of the game and must:
a. Allow opponents who are not on the ground to play or gain possession of the ball.
b. Not play the ball.
c. Not tackle or attempt to tackle an opponent.
Sanction: Penalty.

The Rugby Ref

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