Thanks for your website....it has been a great assistance to my growing understanding of this fantastic game.
Further to Jim's recently posted question about the lineout......I have noticed that at the lineout, the referee seems to maintain an outstretched arm for a period of time longer than when the ball has left the lineout. For a while I always thought that there had been an infringement....but play always continued and then the arm was dropped. Please could you tell me what the significance of this signal is?
Thanks again Ref,MartinHi Martin
This is a referee convention rather than a law signal. The back line at a lineout (known as non-participating players) have to stay back 10m from the lineout, until the lineout is over. Sometimes it is impossible for them to see when the ball has left the lineout, especially if it leaves on the other side of the lineout from where they are standing. So the referee will raise his arm as a signal for them to stay back onside. This is known as preventative refereeing, and stops teams breaking the law, therefore allowing the game to continue.
The referee will keep his arm raised until the lineout is over, when he drops his arm the players know they can now come forward. If the ball is fed off the top of the lineout by the jumper, or the ball is thrown beyond the 15m line, then the lineout is over straight away and there is generally no need for the referee to raise his arm in the first place.
If however the ball is caught and held, and then brought back to earth the referee will raise his arm as a signal that the lineout is not yet over and the backs should stay onside. If a maul forms the lineout will not be over until the hindmost foot, of the hindmost player has crossed the line of touch, or the ball enters the 5m channel.
You say you have seen the referee keep his arm out after the ball has left the lineout, but this may just be a matter of timing.
Thanks for the question and the compliment.
The Rugby Ref