Monday, 7 December 2015

In-Goal Area

I was refereeing a game on Sunday.
An attacking player made a break and ran to the in goal area pursued by a defender. The attacking player has a habit of running around and facing the pitch before he places the ball for a try. In this instance he lost control of the ball as he went to place it down and the ball went backwards.
The defender flicked out a boot and kicked the ball into a teammate running back. The ball cannoned back across the goal line and the another player from the attacking side dived on the ball.
I awarded a try to the second attacking player.
Needless to say I got accused of many things …being blind was probably the most polite….as the majority of people felt that I had not seen the first player not ground the ball properly.
I was comfortable I had made the right decision until a colleague of mine (a very knowledgeable rugby man) questioned my decision saying that he had lost control of the ball in grounding the ball.
Did I make the right call or if not what should I have done
Many thanks

Hi David

Let's break this down in stages to make sure The Rugby Ref has read it correctly.

Attacker runs into in-goal, so the attackers have "taken it in"*.
From your description the attacker drops the ball backwards, so 'not' a knock-on.

Thought - At this point the ball is still live, play on.

A defender kicks the ball back into the field of play (so in the direction his team are playing).
The ball hits one of his own team.  Since this player is in front of the last player from his team to play the ball, he is in an offside position and has interfered with play.

Thought - Penalty advantage to the attackers.

The ball now goes from this offside player back into in-goal, so the defenders have now "taken it in"*.
Another attacking player dives on the ball.

Thought - Try scored.
* NB: It's important to know who took the ball into in-goal in the event that the ball had gone dead.
  • Attackers take it in, made dead, equals a 22 drop out.
  • Defenders take it in, made dead, equals a 5m attacking scrum.
The doubts seem to be around whether losing control of the ball (backwards) in in-goal should have stopped play?
It shouldn't.
All infringements in the in-goal are treated as if they had taken place in the field of play.

Yes the attacker lost control of the ball, but it didn't go forward from his hands, so it isn't a knock on.
Had this happened in the middle of the field you would have played on.  In-goal in this instance is no different.

There was a lot going on there David in a short space of time, difficult for any referee to think through clearly.  But assuming The Rugby Ref has interpreted your description correctly, then you were correct.  Try given.

Well done.
The Rugby Ref

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