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