Wednesday, 19 December 2012

RFU Trial "RefCam"

The RFU Championship will trial the first ever use of “RefCam” in a live rugby union broadcast when Newcastle Falcons take on London Scottish next Sunday, December 23 (kick-off 3.15pm).

Continuing to bring supporters closer to the action, the RFU Championship fixture will show live action from a camera placed on the shirt of match referee Matt Carley, including close-ups of the scrum. As well as increasing the viewing experience for supporters and helping them understand the role of the referee, RefCam will provide a vehicle for referees further down the leagues to gain valuable insight into professional refereeing.

Head of Professional Referee Development Ed Morrison said: “This is an exciting development and one that we’re excited to trial. Not only will it offer a new perspective for viewers but it will also provide us with an additional tool which can be utilised within the on-going development of our referees."

Gus Williamson, Executive Producer, Sky Sports Rugby Union, added: “At Sky Sports we are always looking to introduce broadcast innovations that add depth to our coverage and this will certainly help viewers understand the decisions that referees make. We are excited about working with the RFU and we are confident that rugby viewers will be fascinated by this new way of watching the game.”
The game a Kingston Park is live on Sky Sports 3 HD.

The Rugby Ref has his Sky+ set to record!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Jason Lear asks a question......


Can you confirm the laws in the following situation?

Amateur U19 game and we score a try as the last play. The try is awarded by the referee. The opposition players shout at the referee that our player put his foot in touch and their coach then raised his hand to say the our player was in  foot in touch. This all took place after the try was awarded, the referee then un-awarded the try awarding a throw in to the opposition and called full time.

My confusion lies around the fact that the try was awarded? Can a referee scrub a try after awarding it?

Jason Lear

Hi Jason

Law 6.A.5 states that the referee may alter his decision after a Touch Judge has raised his flag to signal touch.  So if the opposition coach was acting as touch judge, then the referee was correct.

Quite often at grass roots level the person doing the duties of touch judge may not be up with play, or sometimes they forget they need to put the flag up in the air.  So it is not always clear to the referee that the player has gone into touch.

So in you situation Jason, yes the referee was correct.

Thanks for the question.
The Rugby Ref.

Monday, 29 October 2012

BigG is confused on the rolling maul?

I was in a rolling maul as the defensive player with hands on trying to rip the ball out, the opposing team tried to go to ground and I stayed on my feet continued to hold the ball up try to rip it out from the opposition player who was half lying on the floor because his other half was only held up because I had hold of the ball, I was penalised for not releasing as the tackling player. I had not made a tackle and my opposition had gone to ground because he wanted to recycle. Surely the penalty should have been to me for him not releasing and allowing a turnover or if I was to be penalised for hands in the ruck from an offside position because a ruck had been deemed formed (debatable).
I felt really aggrieved especially as they scored from the resulting penalty please let me know if I am vindicated in my miserable mood all night.
Hi BigG,
The Rugby Ref cannot comment on the referee's decision, because The Rugby Ref does not know what your ref saw or was thinking, you may have been mistaken as to why he gave the penalty.  However The Rugby Ref can comment on the situation you describe.  Let's look at when a maul ends, because this is the key to this decision.
Law 17.5 A maul ends successfully when:
  • the ball or a player with the ball leaves the maul
  • the ball is on the ground
  • the ball is on or over the goal line
None of those things happened so the maul did not end successfully.
Law 17.6 A maul ends unsuccessfully when:
  • (a) if it becomes stationary or has stopped moving forward for longer than 5 seconds and a scrum is ordered
  • (b) if the ball becomes unplayable or collapses (not as a result of foul play) and a scrum is ordered
  • (f) if the ball becomes unplayable, the referee does not allow prolonged wrestling for it.  A scrum is ordered
  • (g) if the ball carrier in a maul goes to ground, including being on one or both knees or sitting, the referee orders a scrum unless the ball is immediately available
Now we are seeing your situation described, so lets go through a checklist.
  1. Did we have a maul - you say we did.
  2. Did the ball carrier go to ground? - Yes he did as he was half lying on the ground.
  3. At this point was the ball immediately available? - No it wasn't as two players were competing for it.
So what we had was an unsuccessfull end to a maul and the ball wasn't immediately available. So the law says the referee should order a scrum to the team not in possession at the forming of the scrum.
What this means in practise is that all the players in a maul must stay on their feet.  The only player who may legally go to ground is the ball carrier.  But if he does, then the ball must be made immediately available or he loses it in a turnover.
There is no obligation on other players to relinquish the ball in a maul. 
The Rugby Ref hopes BigG managed to cheer up.
Thanks for a great question.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

The new season is well under way, how is it going?

We are now three weeks into the new domestic season, using the new Law Amendment Trials (LAT's).  So how is it going?

Well the new LAT's don't seem to have made a whole lot of difference at grassroots level.

  • The nearest a conversion kick has got to the new 90 seconds allowed, is 60 seconds, so not an issue.
  • Knock on into touch.  The Rugby Ref has had quite a few of these.  Options offered, no big issues.
  • New position of a Quick Throw-In.  The Rugby Ref hasn't seen any of these.  He saw one on the TV in the recent Exeter v Saracens game, but it was a bit of a disaster tactically.
  • New Scrum Engagement.  No big deal, the new engagement procedure has been accepted by all and there have been no major problems with it.
  • Lineout alternative.  The Rugby Ref has offered the options on one or two occasions, but the lineout has not been taken.  Nothing to see here, move on.

So there we have it.  The new Law Trials came in with rumblings and mumblings from some areas, but appear to have descended on the new season like a damp squib.

You can refresh your memory on the LAT's by clicking HERE.

CTR asks..........

Hi the ball has been kick into the dead ball area the attacking player slids in, but goes passed the ball then reaches back and touches the ball down ... Try given ? although all his body is outside the dead ball area ... isn't he out of play ?
If the ball has gone past the dead ball line, then the ball is dead and we look to a restart.
What The Rugby Ref thinks you are saying is that the ball was lying in the in-goal area.  In that case any player may press down on the ball for a try or a touchdown.
From your description the attacking player did indeed press down on the ball, so the question is, can he do this from outside the in-goal area.
The answer is yes he can and the try was good, provided he only pressed down on the ball and didn't pick it up.
Law 22.4 Other Ways to Score a Try
22.4(g) Player in touch or touch-in-goal.  If an attacking player is in touch or touch-in-goal, the player can score a try by grounding the ball in the opponents' in-goal, provided the player is not carrying the ball.
Thanks for the question.
The Rugby Ref

Monday, 25 June 2012

James Hill asks...............

Mate my team were have a defensive scrum on the 5mtr line, the half passes back to the 1st 5 who trys to kick it out when he gets charged down and the ball goes dead, what is the ruling here scrum to the attacking team or 22mtr drop out?

Hi James,

When the ball goes into in-goal and is made dead, there is only one question the referee needs to ask himself "who put the ball into in-goal?"

  • If the ball is put into in-goal by an attacker, and then made dead, it is a 22 drop out.
  • If the ball is put into in-goal by a defender, and then made dead, it is a 5m attacking scrum.

Who makes the ball dead is irrelevant.  So in your case the defending Scrum half passes the ball back into in-goal; the ball is then made dead (doesn't really matter how); so the result is an attacking 5m scrum.  The kick, the charge down, any passing or running within in-goal are all just red herrings.

This is all covered in Law 22.

Thanks for the question.
The Rugby Ref.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Mario Botha asks...................

Hi Ref, Can players be in front of the kicker and not be offside in the in goal area? If so which law governs this? Thanks. Mario
Hi Mario

Off side in open play applies in the in-goal area, in the same way as it does in the field of play.  So if, for instance, the ball is passed back from a 5m scrum to a defender standing just inside the dead ball line, and that defender kicks ahead, then every defender in front of the kicker (including any in in-goal) is in an offside position and liable to penalty if they take part in the game, before being put back onside.

This is all covered by Law 11.

So Mario, the answer to your question is "no".

Thanks for the question.
The Rugby Ref.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

What happened when The Rugby Ref got closer to the Pros?

So; at the invitation of Maximuscle The Rugby Ref travelled down to Twickenham, not really knowing what to expect.

All was soon revealed.  On arrival The Rugby Ref was given a Maximuscle Shaker with some Promax Breakfast Oats in and a Water Bottle containing an Electrolyte Drink.
There was then an introduction to the event and it's aim.  As part of their partnership with England Rugby, Maximuscle provided expert nutritional advice and support to 40 lucky amateur rugby players.  This was to be their chance to experience what it takes to be among rugby’s elite.  Under the watchful gaze of some of England’s finest coaches and players, the assembled players and media were to be put through their paces in series of drills and challenges that tested them to the limit.  The assembled players would then be invited back to repeat the drills and challenges, in around 4-6 months, to see if following a professional nutrition and fitness regime can improve performance.

At this point everyone was divided into groups and given a team T-Shirt.  It was then down to the England dressing room to get changed, followed by extensive measuring of our body composition.

It was then out onto the pitch at Twickenham for the fun to begin.  The Rugby Ref says 'fun' with a wry grin on his face.  It was fun and it was enjoyable, but it was also very hard work!  There were several stations, but The Rugby Ref's group started of with some passing drills, just for a warm up, then some goal kicking and scrum half passing.  Now The Rugby Ref has never kicked a ball off a tee before in his life, so it will come as no surprise that he missed all five kicks from the 22.
Next up was the endurance test.  There were two of these, one for forwards and one for backs.  As an ex second row, The Rugby Ref went with the forwards.  Three poles at 5m, 10m and 15m.  Start lying on the ground, then up and sprint to the 5m pole, round it and run backwards to the start, down on your face, then up again and round the 10m pole, down, up and round the 15m pole.  That equals one circuit.  So the entire test was one circuit, recovery, two circuits, recovery, four circuits, recovery, four circuits, recovery, one circuit, finish.  'Recovery' sounds like a nice rest doesn't it?  In fact it was about a 15 second breather.  The aim was to get your final circuit time as close as possible to your first circuit time.

With legs like jelly, The Rugby Ref then staggered off to the hydration station to take on some liquids.  Maximuscle had thoughtfully supplied a tent handing out Electrolyte Drinks and Viper Boost Gel.

Sprinting next.  A straight timed sprint first, and then a sprint, turn, sprint, each done twice, turning once on each foot.

After the sprinting, straight into a game of tag rugby.  But this was no ordinary game of tag.  Played across the full width of the Twickenham pitch, every time you made a tag, you had to sprint back to your own goal line and then back into the game.  Tag was followed by some grappling, turning your opponent on the ground, while he tried to stop you.  This was done on the AstroTurf at the edge of the pitch and The Rugby Ref was left wondering how to explain the carpet burns on his knees to Mrs Ref?

Finally The Rugby Refs group moved into the gym.  Pull ups, squats, bench presses and standing jumps.  Now as you might imagine referees don't need a lot of upper body strength, so this was not The Rugby Refs finest hour, although the standing jump went well.

That was the end of the tests and everyone hit the showers before heading back inside for lunch.  This was followed by a discussion on nutrition, which The Rugby Ref found very interesting.  The group talked about good and bad foods, what foods to eat and when and of course, how Maximuscle supplements can help fill the gaps.

At the end of the day The Rugby Ref went away tired, but much better informed.  The Rugby Ref also went away with a nice Maximuscle Rucksack, a selection of Maximuscle products and a 40% online discount.

So, that was just over a week ago, has it had any effect on The Rugby Refs lifestyle?  Yes it has,  The Rugby Ref has started eating healthier and more regularly.  The Rugby Ref never used to have breakfast, but now has a bit of fruit every morning or some Promax Breakfast Oats.  The Rugby Ref has stopped eating crisps and unhealthy snacks, replacing them with fruit, nuts and healthy options.  The Rugby Ref has always taken energy drinks before and during training, but has now started using a Maximuscle Promax after training for muscle recovery and repair.  Mrs Ref was a bit shocked when The Rugby Ref refused fish and chips the other day, but is looking forward to having a leaner, fitter Rugby Ref!

There are two and a half months until the start of the 2012 season, time will tell if this new regime makes a difference.

..........and finally can you spot and name the two professional players in the photographs above?

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Maximuscle Get Closer To The Pros Twickenham Event

Tomorrow The Rugby Ref is off to Twickenham for the Maximuscle "Get Closer To The Pros Event".
The Rugby Ref is not entirely sure what the day will involve, but a full report will be posted after the event.

Watch this space.......

2012 Bingham Cup

Last weekend The Rugby Ref was in Manchester for the 2012 Bingham Cup.

The Bingham Cup is the world championship of gay and inclusive rugby teams and is one of the largest men’s 15-aside rugby union tournament in the sporting calendar outside of the IRB Rugby World Cup. Manchester 2012 will be the sixth Bingham Cup and is officially sponsored by the Rugby Football Union.  Manchester 2012 will be three days celebrating the very best of rugby.

What a fantastic weekend, three days of brilliant rugby.  Never have the RFU values of Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship been more apparent, than in this competition.  Played in the best and the worst of the English weather this tournament epitomised what rugby is all about.  The quote on the front of the souvenir programme summed it all up......

"The only trophy we won this day was the blood and sweat we left on the pitch...and it was enough."

The Rugby Ref's first match was Melbourne v Seattle, does this class him as an International Referee? 

More information available on the Bingham Cup website HERE.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Notice of Approved Law Trials 2012

In a further development to The Rugby Ref's post on Global Law Trials, the IRB have issued a further memo subsequent to its recent press release, in which the IRB has now approved an amend to the scrum engagement sequence, along with some other notices

The approved Global Law Trials shall be implemented by all Unions and come into effect from the start of the next Northern Hemisphere season at, or around, September 1, 2012, and the start of the next Southern Hemisphere season at, or around, January 1, 2013.

The Rugby Ref suggests you visit where the changes are illustrated with the use of video clips.

Friday, 18 May 2012

IRB and Unions sanction global Law trials

  • IRB Council approves trials for five Law amendments
  • Full Union consultation and amendment evaluation undertaken
  • Laws Representative Group comprises Union technical experts
  • Successful trials undertaken at Cambridge and Stellenbosch
  • TMO jurisdiction extension trial approved for elite competition

The International Rugby Board and its Member Unions have sanctioned a global trial of five aspects of Law amendments following an extensive process of consultation and evaluation.

The trial, approved by the IRB Council at its Annual Meeting in Dublin on Tuesday, will commence at the start of the next season in each hemisphere (August 2012 in the north and January 2013 in the south) and will be applicable to both international and domestic competition.

Aspects of Law approved for trial include limiting the time that the ball is available at the back of a ruck and the positioning of taking a quick throw-in. In addition to the suite of seven Laws approved for global trial, three additional trials will operate during 2012.

A trial extension of the jurisdiction of the Television Match Official will be introduced later this year, while the number of nominated replacements in Test Rugby will be increased to eight for a trial in the November window.

The global trial has been sanctioned after an unprecedented evaluation process that kicked off with submissions and recommendations for 20 potential amendments from Member Unions and has culminated with recent trials of amendments to seven aspects of Law as a package at dedicated playing environments in Cambridge and Stellenbosch.

This evaluation process is in line with the remit of the Laws Amendment Process approved by the IRB Council in December 2009.

Unlike previous amendment processes, the process of selection, monitoring and evaluation has been steered by an independent Laws Representative Group, comprising technical representatives from each of the 10 Tier 1 Unions covering elite and community Rugby and representatives of the IRB Rugby Committee.

Extensive evaluation of the Cambridge and Stellenbosch University trials undertaken earlier this year determined that each of the seven amendments could have a positive effect on the Game or clarify existing areas of Law and therefore a recommendation was made to the IRB Council via the IRB Rugby Committee to approve a global trial of all seven amendments.

The five Law amendments to be trialled globally are:

1. Law 16.7 (Ruck): The ball has to be used within five seconds of it being made available at the back of a ruck with a warning from the referee to “use it”. Sanction – Scrum.

2. 19.2 (b) (Quick Throw-In) For a quick throw in, the player may be anywhere outside the field of play between the line of touch and the player’s goal line.

3. 19.4 (who throws in) When the ball goes into touch from a knock-on, the non-offending team will be offered the choice of a lineout at the point the ball crossed the touch line; or a scrum at the place of the knock-on. The non-offending team may exercise this option by taking a quick throw-in.

4. 21.4 Penalty and free kick options and requirements: Lineout alternative. A team awarded a penalty or a free kick at a lineout may choose a further lineout, they throw in. This is in addition to the scrum option.

5. A conversion kick must be completed within one minute 30 seconds from the time that a try has been awarded.
In addition to the global trials, the IRB Council approved three specific additional trials:

1. A trial to extend the jurisdiction of the TMO to incidents within the field of play that have led to the scoring of a try and foul play in the field of play to take place at an appropriate elite competition in order that a protocol can be developed for the November 2012 Tests.

2. A trial has been sanctioned for the November 2012 Test window permitting international teams to nominate up to eight replacements in the match day squad for Test matches. In line with current practice at domestic elite Rugby level, the additional player must be a qualified front row player.

3. An amendment to Law 3.4 (Sevens Variation) to enable Sevens teams to nominate up to five replacements/substitutes. Under the revision, which will operate from June 1 2012, a team may substitute or replace up to five players during a match. Approval has been granted on player welfare grounds to recognise the additional demands on players and squads owing to the expansion of the HSBC Sevens World Series where there are three blocks of three events on consecutive weekends.

Council also approved the referral by the Laws Representative Group of one potential Law amendment that was successfully trialled at Cambridge and Stellenbosch for further consideration by the specialist Scrum Steering Group (overseeing scrum force project) to be considered alongside the ongoing review of the scrum.

The amendment that will be considered by the Group relates to the engagement sequence and will see the referee call “crouch” then “touch”. The front rows crouch then touch and using outside arm each prop touches the point of the opposing prop’s outside shoulder. The props then withdraw their arms. The referee will then call “set” when the front rows are ready. The front rows may then set the scrum.

“We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the Game is as enjoyable to play, officiate and watch as possible at every level while player welfare is of paramount importance,” said IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset.

“Rugby is currently in good health with participation growing around the world, but there is collective responsibility to ensure that a structured process can be implemented to allow for global analysis and to monitor trends relating to the shape and character of the Game as it evolves.”

“The approval of five aspects of Law for global trial is the culmination of the Laws Amendment Process which was agreed by the IRB Council in 2009. The journey to this point has been exhaustive and collaborative and has involved full stakeholder consultation and I would like to thank Member Unions for their buy-in and commitment to the process from the outset.”

“The Laws Representative Group were encouraged by the outcomes of the initial trials in Cambridge and Stellenbosch. The next step is a global trial with full buy-in and which has been approved by Council on the basis that the amendments can have a positive effect on the playing of the Game.”

“The global trials are not fait accompli. It is essential at the end of the global trial process that decisions made are in the best interest of Rugby worldwide,” added Lapasset.

Friday, 4 May 2012

The Rugby Ref's post match meal No 23

The Rugby Ref ran touch for one of our up and coming young referees in the week, for an end of season cup final.

The Rugby Ref wasn't really expecting much in the food department, as the game was at a neutral club.  What a pleasant surprise then to get Roast Beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, carrots, boiled potatoes, gravy, horseradish sauce.  All topped off with a pint of Doombar bitter.

Absolutely delicious, 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Chris Pearson wants to settle an argument?


Can you settle a long running argument please?

Does the video referee actually watch the game and know the score, or
is he locked away and only have access to the footage/incident, as and when the
need for a decision comes up?
Chris Pearson

Hi Chris

Thanks for the question. 

The video ref, or Television Match Official (TMO), to give him his full title, sits in one of the broadcasters OB trucks, somewhere outside the stadium, usually in a car park.  From there he would watch the match as a television feed, which would allow him to become familiar with the different cameras and where they are situated.  This allows him to ask the technicians for specific camera shots when required to adjudicate, by the referee on the pitch.

So the answer to your question is "no", he is not locked away in a darkened room, waiting to be "let out"!

The Rugby Ref.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A question on Rucks.......or TV.......or Materiality?

Dear Rugby Ref,

I am a little confused by the current trend of players pulling other off their feet in the ruck. It usually goes something like this: Tackle made, perfectly legitimate ruck forms with two players in contact over the ball and on their feet, then the teammate of the tackled player judo-throws his opposite number onto the ground. Presumably this is so the defender cannot try to play the ball as he would now be off his feet. Surely this is collapsing the ruck which is not allowed by the LOTG? Although this tactic completely goes against my instincts as a ref, should I be coaching my players to do this as it is effective. Or, should I not allow it and pre-brief teams that I ref that I don’t care what they see on the TV it isn’t allowed when I’m reffing??

Thank you, love the blog, keep it up!



We have covered this aspect of rugby (in different areas) before.  You mustn't confuse the rugby you see on TV with real grass roots rugby.

Your final sentence sums it The Rugby Ref always says to players "when you are on TV, you can do what they do.....until then we'll stick to the laws of the game".

Martin just remember, is the offence material or not?

Saturday, 7 April 2012

A question from Jannie Koegelenberg

Jannie asks "Why are scrum halves allowed to put the ball in towards their scrum, under the hookers feet?"
Well Jannie, normally when people ask this question they say "why are scrum halves allowed to feed the ball into the second row!".

The simple answer is they aren't allowed to do that.  The law states:
"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."

So what The Rugby Ref thinks you are really asking is "why don't referees penalise the Not Straight?"

Most referees at grass roots level will penalise the "not straight".  Sometimes though the referee is distracted by other more important safety issues, such as binding, dipping and lifting. 

Why don't they penalise it on the television?  The Rugby Ref doesn't have an answer to that one, but has been told in the past by top referees that "there are many things to look at in the scrum and the feed is one that is a way down the list, below important safety considerations".

That is not really a satisfactory answer, as ignoring the feed means that any prospect of a contest for the ball at that point is removed.  Leaving just a pushing contest.  The Rugby Ref has noticed of late though that more top level referees are now policing the put in more often.  Maybe the tide is turning back?

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Rugby Ref's post match meal No 22

The Rugby Ref ran touch for a county cup game this Sunday (after a Saturday league game with yet another curry!).

The post match meal was fantastic.  Ham, chips and egg, with bread & butter and a pint of Bombardier.

A really great meal which The Rugby Ref gives 10 out of 10.  There were even seconds!

Friday, 16 March 2012

A question from the France v England match

"I was wondering, in the England France match when Phil Dowson was injured, the referee blew up to protect him, should the ref have awarded the scrum to England. I ask because I have seen very little press comment – compared to say the Charlie Sharples yellow, and it was potentially a crucial decision.

The Laws state - If the referee stops play because a player has been injured, and there has been no infringement and the ball has not been made dead, play restarts with a scrum. The team last in possession throws in the ball.

Tom Croft was in possession – I recall because he trod on Phil Dowson’s head. The ref awarded the scrum to France on the basis they had the forward nudge at the ruck, but if it was not for the injury, he would not have stopped play as the ball was already becoming available to England.  

What are your thoughts?"

The Rugby Ref was puzzled by this as well, thinking that this was a stoppage for an injury.  The put-in at the resultant scrum should have gone to the team in posession at the time of the stoppage.

However, it appears the referee didn't stop for the injury, he stopped because he deemed the ball was unplayable at the ruck.  He only noticed the injury after he stopped the game.

The law says if the ball is unplayable at a ruck, the put in at the resultant scrum goes to the team moving forward just before the stoppage.  Which in the referee's estimation was France.

As he was a lot closer to the action than The Rugby Ref, The Rugby Ref accepts what he decided.

Hope that helps.

Jack Finnegan asks The Rugby Ref a question

"Why are players allowed to clearly handle the ball in the ruck? I regularly see the following situation in internationals:

  1. Ball carrier gets tackled
  2. He goes to ground and places the ball on the floor as the ruck forms
  3. As the ruck continues the ball gets kicked further towards him and away from his scrum-half
  4. The tackled player will pick the ball up, while still laying on the floor, and simply place it at arm's length away from him, putting it in a better position for his scrum half and making it harder for the opposition to win the ball back through the ruck.
Why is this allowed? It seems like a flagrant breach of the rules to the detriment of the opposition.
Jack then has a follow up.....

"I just asked a question about hands that it seems you answered HERE:
I have a follow on question though. Why is handling in the ruck simply not allowed at schoolboy level whatsoever? The inconsistency is illogical and difficult for players to reconcile between what they see and what they play. If the logic of letting it slide is that the ruck was probably already won and it helps play continue, why are schoolboy refs not instructed to do the same?


There are two things in play here.  Contextual Judgement and Materiality, both of which are explained in the article you linked to.  So why do schoolboy referees do it differently?

The Rugby Ref is not conviced that ALL schoolboy refereees do this, however"Contextual Judgement" and "Materiality" are two of the hardest things to learn and understand, and it may simply be that the schoolboy referees you see have not yet learned how to apply it?

Referee Societies do not usually appoint to schoolboy games and they may be getting referees who are teachers or other students.  They may not be getting the training and coaching that Society referees get and there could be a difference in standards.  This is not to say they are doing it wrong, just that they are doing it differently for the game they are refereeing.  That is what contextual judgement is all about.

Thanks for the question Jack.

The Rugby Ref's post match meal No 21

Over the past few weeks The Rugby Ref has had a couple of indifferent curries (7/10), which while nothing different, were at least hot and filling.  The Rugby Ref has also done a couple of Army games, where there was no food at all (0/10).

However last weekend The Rugby Ref went to Madrid for an Under 20's top of the league clash.  A tremendous game, followed by food and hospitality that scored a solid 10 out of 10.

A selection of Tapas and the biggest, most mouth watering steak The Rugby Ref has ever had, made this the best post match meal ever.  OK, so the Madrid Referees' Association pushed the boat out a bit for their guests, but this has really set the benchmark for all meals to come.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Norman Krebill asks The Rugby Ref a question

"While watching Romania vs. Scotland in the RWC I noticed that Romania while binding on during a ruck would pick up the ball and place it at their feet. The next player to bind on would again pick it up and put it at his feet. Is this a modified way of playing the ball at the back of a a ruck? Not sure why it was not called."
Hi Norman, interesting question. 

The first thing to remember is that 'TV' rugby is different to 'Grass Roots' rugby.  Different skills, different strengths, etc.  Referees use something called 'Contextual Judgement' and 'Materiality' when refereeing games of different level, to keep the game flowing and allow some rugby to break out.

Technically if anyone moves the ball with their hands once a ruck has formed over it, then they are breaking the law.  However sometimes this is ignored, why?

If the ball has been cleanly won and the contest for the ball is over, then why would the referee penalise someone moving the ball a little bit, to make it easier for the Scrum Half to play the ball and keep the game flowing?

What the referee has to ask himself is "was that an offence?", "did it have a material effect on the game?", "do I really need to penalise it?".  He may decide that it had no material effect and no benefit will come from penalising it?  He may decide that if the ball is won, why blow the whistle and stop the game?

At the average breakdown there are around 40+ potential penalties that the referee could give.  Which means that if he refereed the game to the 'letter of the law', you would only need a pitch a few feet square, as he would be blowing the whistle every few seconds.

However that wouldn't be much fun, for the referee, the players, or the spectators.  So the referee uses his judgement and materiality to find ways 'Not' to blow the whistle, to keep the game flowing.  He looks to only blow the 'clear and obvious'.

Where is the line between materiality and ignoring the laws?  That is for the referee to judge.  It's part of what makes our game so great.

Norman, The Rugby Ref doesn't remember the exact incident you mention, but hopefully the above explanation goes some way to answering your question?

Don't forget, if you have a question for The Rugby Ref, just email it in, using the "Ask The Ref" link top right.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

The Rugby Ref's post match meal No 20

A revisit to meal No 13 and The Rugby Ref had the same again.  There was however a choice this time of Sausage or Sausage Roll and Chips, Chilli and Rice, or Chilli and Jacket Potato.

Proper chips (not oven chips).  Nice cold pint of Guiness.

The Rugby Ref gives this another solid 9 out of 10.

The Rugby Ref's post match meal No 19

Fantastic game of rugby.

But the food consisted of two large plates of hotdogs placed out in the club. 
By the time The Rugby Ref and some of the players got there; it was all gone.
The Rugby Ref was given a pint of Guiness.......but it was warm.

The Rugby Ref scores this meal as 1 out of 10.

The Rugby Ref's post match meal No's 15, 16, 17 and 18

Curry, curry and more curry.
They all looked the same, they all scored 7 out of 10.
They all came with a pint of Guiness.