I was watching Canada v France at the World Cup. At 38:50 of the first half Canada's #7 is called for not releasing the tackled player. Here's what I saw.
The French player is running forward and Canadas #7 tackles straight on. The French player goes to the ground immediately. #7 remains on his feet, bent forward at his waist. He raises both arms out from his shoulders away from his body and the tackled player. He then reaches down towards the ball. A supporting French player rushes in, and as the tackled player places the ball, it is hit by the supporting player's leg and bounces out to the side, where it is scooped up by a passing Canadian player. All this
happens in a second. The whistle blows.
To me, the #7 clearly released the tackled player and with purpose showed "space" between himself and the man on the ground, and he never left his feet. The referee is heard to say "Tackler Assist". But there was no other Canadian player involved or even close to the tackle. The commentators definitely heard the same thing, because they explained the rule that the second tackler must also release (although they failed to notice there was no second tackler).
Am I missing something in the interpretation? Maybe the referee meant to say simply "not released" instead of what he did say, although he seems to repeat it several times. But even then, I can't see a penalty. Or is this just a blown call?
Hi Steve, thanks for your question. The Rugby Ref didn't see the incident in question, but lets examine your description.
The French player is running forward and Canadas #7 tackles straight on. The French player goes to the ground immediately. #7 remains on his feet,
What we have here is a tackle, without a tackler. The French player (ball carrier) was held and brought to ground, so he was tackled. Because the #7 didn't himself go to ground with the ball carrier, he is not a tackler, he is what is commonly known as a "tackle assist". The difference between the two is that a tackler (having got to his feet and released the ball carrier) may play the ball from any angle. A tackle assist must come through the gate, from his own side of the tackle.
The Rugby Ref can only surmise that this is why the referee called "tackler assist" and penalised the Canadian player.