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.