Monday, 14 November 2016

Sealing in the Ruck

Would value your judgment on this one!!
A player is tackled and goes down, presents the ball and two team mates come in to form a ruck. They both latch on to his shirt with their hands while he is on the ground and the ruck forms behind them. They seem to use the fallen player as a barrier to prevent the opposition from accessing the ball on the ground.
Would you ping the grounded player  for not rolling away?  Or the two shirt-holders for going in too low? Or for being off their feet because their hands are on the grounded player?
This seems common practice but to me it is iffy.
Would appreciate views on this .
Thank you

Hi Peter

If the team mates are leaning on the player on the ground, then they are off their feet.  If you knocked their arms away would they fall over?  If so they are off their feet.  Potential penalty.

The act of grabbing the grounded players shirt is in itself not a problem, but if the opposition try to ruck them off the ball and they use this grounded player as an anchor, then that is a potential penalty.  If they drag the grounded player back with them, and the ball goes with him that is a potential penalty.

You can almost take your pick of reasons for giving the penalty.  Sealing off by the team mates, not rolling away by the ball carrier, or holding on by the ball carrier if he takes the ball with him as he is dragged back.

Thanks for a good question.
The Rugby Ref


  1. Very confusing use of language all round. Sounds like it would be more accurate to say 'on your hands' than 'off your feet'. Sealing off - what? Doesn't it essentially mean 'stifling' or 'smothering'? Then you've got 'over the top', not rolling away', 'on the wrong side'. About the only one I understand and can identify is 'in from the side' and even I notice that one is interpreted very inconsistently and, some would say, arbitrarily.

  2. Those are all phrases that appear in the law book and are familiar to anyone who plays or referees rugby. Listen to any rugby commentary and you will hear those phrases.