Sunday 17 December 2017

Passive scrums

Can the number 8 and number 9 change position in a passive scrum?

Hi James

Providing they start off in these positions then yes the No 8 can act as scrum half and the No 9 can play in the back of the scrum. They can't change places after the scrum has set though.  They could do this in uncontested or contested scrums.

The Rugby Ref

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Interpretation of going off feet

Post tackle when opposition players engage to form a ruck and in the act of driving the opposition the the opponent yields goes backwards thus causing the the winning player to go to ground despite winning the battle.
Could you give an interpretation on this as the law refers to intentionally (I think) going to ground.

Hi Paddy

If I understand your question correctly this is ruckers driving over and going to ground from their own momentum, versus them going to ground through being pulled over the ruck by the defenders.

In the first case where a counter ruck goes over the ball but then goes to ground The Rugby Ref would be looking for the grounded player to move away pretty swiftly.  If the lie over the ball and kill the contest then they are going to be penalised for going to ground.

In the second case where a defender at the ruck pulls an opponent over the ruck and onto the ground The Rugby Ref would again be looking for the grounded players to move away to allow play to continue. However The Rugby Ref would not penalise the grounded player, but would caution the defender not to pull players over the ruck, but instead to bind on and push.  The ruck is a pushing contest not a pulling contest.  If the defender failed to heed the warning he would be penalised for failure to bind in the ruck.  If a defender is pulling a player through the ruck he is part of the ruck but is not bound to anyone.  A bind must be from armpit to wrist.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 20 November 2017

Poorly Refereed game

Hi there ref,
I had a poorly refereed game yesterday where the ref had no understanding of the rules and it took players and spectators to keep him informed.
I then filed a complaint to the schools director of sport which i ended the letter as anonymous. It has now arisen that i have not remained anonymous is this allowed?
Kind Regards,
Hi Anonymous

The Rugby Ref can't comment on school policy regarding complaints, but The Rugby Ref can comment on the referees ability.

Every game needs a referee.  Every referee has to start somewhere.  Unless you are prepared to step up and get a refereeing qualification yourself, then you are in no position to criticise.

You see a poor referee being instructed on what to do by the players and spectators.  The Rugby Ref sees a young referee doing his best and being abused by the players and spectators.  What will probably happen is that young lad will stop refereeing and next time you play you wont have a referee and therefore wont be able to play.

The Rugby Referees experience is that most players struggle to understand the "Laws" (not rules), so any advice given is usually wrong.

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Quick tap penalty

Played today, we were given a penalty advantage at a breakdown. our scrum half put the ball on the floor and asked the ref if we could have the penalty as we wanted to go quickly, he then stopped her going quickly because she'd "asked for the penalty". 
Is it correct that she can't go quickly because she's asked for the Penalty? If so what irb law is this as I've had a look and can't see it online.
Hi Becky

There is no law that covers this other than that the kick must be taken at the place of the infringement. However there are sometimes management issues for the referee that preclude a quick penalty being taken and the referee may take the opportunity to slow the game down for a number of reasons.

If the referee says you can't take it quickly, then you have to wait.  The Rugby Referee is interested in the phrase "she asked for the penalty", this could mean a number of things.  It could mean the player didn't want the advantage and asked to have the penalty instead.  That is a request that many referees will go with.  It could also mean the player appealed for the penalty, which is dissent.  In that case the referee might well slow the game down.  If one team appeals for a penalty and gets it, the other team may think it's ok for them to do the same, next thing we have 30 players all appealing for penalties.  If a player appeals for a penalty it makes it difficult for the referee to give it because of that and they may take the opportunity to slow the game down and possibly speak to the player or the captain about it.

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 12 September 2017

Alain Rolland ruck video

Hi ref
There is some mixed messages arriving from new ruck video. Can you please clarify . 
1 man ruck from completed tackle . 
As in video team mate of ball carrier steps over tackle area.  There is now an off side line as explained by alaine rolland
If 1 man ruckers steps back in front of ball.  Alaine rolland suggests off side lines are now gone . 
Question 1 ) If lads in middle from opposition were already off side .Do they now automatically become on side 
Question 2 ) If lads who are lazy runners , who were off side in 1 man ruck .Do they now become on side again & can they now intercept a possible pass or tackle ball carrier .From an originally off side position , providing they 1 meter from original tackle zone .
Regards jacky 
Hi Jacky

Once a ruck has formed offside lines are created.  When that ruck ends the offside lines disappear for the ruck and we are back to open play.  However players who were in an offside position need to get back onside before they can participate in the game.

They can do this as follows.
When a ruck, maul, scrum or lineout forms, a player who is offside and is retiring as required by Law remains offside even when the opposing team wins possession and the ruck, maul, scrum or lineout has ended. The player is put onside by retiring behind the applicable offside line. No other action of the offside player and no action of that player’s team mates can put the offside player onside.
If the player remains offside the player can be put onside only by the action of the opposing team.
There are two such actions:
Opponent runs 5 metres with ball. When an opponent carrying the ball has run 5 metres,the offside player is put onside. An offside player is not put onside when an opponentpasses the ball. Even if the opponents pass the ball several times, their action does not put the offside player onside.
Opponent kicks. When an opponent kicks the ball, the offside player is put onside.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 4 September 2017

More Questions Than Answers

After watching a club game yesterday I have two queries.
My first query is: the defence passes the ball into the in-goal area and the resulting clearance kick by them is charged down by an opposition player, also in the in-goal area. The ball goes dead over the dead ball line. How should the game be restarted.
Secondly. if a quick throw-in is taken when the ball has gone into touch. Can an opposition player be deemed off-side when intercepting the ball being thrown in?

Hi Steve

For your first query the game should restart with an attacking 5m scrum.  It's not about who made the ball dead, it's about who put it into in goal.  The defence took it into in goal and it was made dead (it doesn't really matter how), so it's an attacking scrum.

For your second query it depends on where he starts from.  Was he offside before the ball went into touch?  If he wasn't then he is legal to attempt to block the quick throw in, provided he doesn't do so from within the 5m channel.   So if he was ahead of his kicker when the ball went into touch he is offside, but he wont be penalised unless it becomes material.  If the quick throw is not on then it wont become material.  If it is and he interferes then he is liable to be penalised.

Thanks for the questions Steve
The Rugby bRef

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Player Catching the Ball in the Air

Please can someone explain to me the difference between:
Challenge by players to ball in the air – Super Rugby Final on 05 August 2017 at Ellis Park between Crusaders and Lions - resulting in a red card.
Challenge by players to ball in the air – Currie Cup match on 12 August -  resulting in penalty.
Would love to understand the difference.
Kind regards, Jack (rugby fan since 1947)

Hi Jack

The best way to explain this is to look at the World Rugby Law Application Guidelines.

Challenging players in the air - Law 10.4(i)

  • Play on – Fair challenge with both players in a realistic position to catch the ball. Even if the player(s) land(s) dangerously, play on
  • Penalty only – Fair challenge with wrong timing - No pulling down
  • Yellow card – Not a fair challenge, there is no contest and the player is pulled down landing on his back or side
  • Red card – It’s not a fair challenge with no contest, whilst being a reckless or deliberate foul play action and the player lands in a dangerous position

Video examples can be seen here:

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 25 July 2017

Law changes for the coming season

Following their trial in the Southern Hemisphere from January, the following law changes will be introduced to English Rugby for the coming season (from August 1st).

Law 3, number of players: If a game goes to uncontested scrums there must be eight players from each side in the scrum.  This is to discourage teams from deliberately offending to go uncontested.

Law 5, time: If a Penalty Kick is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the line out is allowed.  This is to discourage teams from offending in the dying moments of the game.

Law 8, advantage: When multiple penalty infringements are made by the same team the referee may allow the captain of the non-offending team to choose the most advantageous penalty mark.  This is to discourage repeat offending when advantage is already being played.

Law 9, scoring: A penalty try is now worth 7 points, no conversion need be taken.  This is to discourage teams from preventing a probable try and also to save time on the clock.

Law 19, touch: A player who is juggling the ball is deemed to be in possession. This brings into law something which is already applied in practise; it means a player need not be in contact with the ball at the exact moment of touching the touchline or the ground beyond it to be deemed in touch.

Law 19, touch: The ball is not in touch if a player jumps from the playing area and returns the ball to the field of play before the player lands in touch.  This is to simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Law 19, touch: The ball is not in touch if the ball-carrier reaches the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area before landing in touch.  This is to simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Law 19, touch: A player in touch who catches or picks up a ball that has not reached the touchline has taken the ball out of play. This is to simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Law 19, touch: A defending player in the 22 meter area who catches or picks up a ball that has not reached the 22 meter-line has carried the ball into the 22 meter area. It does not apply to make a successful mark.  This is to simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Law 22, in-goal: A defending player in the in-goal who catches or picks up a ball that has not reached the goal-line has carried the ball into the in-goal.  This is to simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Law 22, in-goal: A player in touch in-goal or in the dead-ball area who catches or picks up a ball that has not reached the touch in-goal line or the dead-ball line has taken the ball out of play.  This is to simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Throwing the ball into the scrum
Law 20.5 & 20.5 (d) 5
No signal from referee. The scrum-half must throw the ball in straight, but is allowed to align their shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing them to stand a shoulder width towards their own side of the middle line.
Rationale: To promote scrum stability, a fair contest for possession while also giving the advantage to the team throwing in.

Handling in the scrum – exception
Law 20.9 (b)
The number eight shall be allowed to pick the ball from the feet of the second-rows.
Rationale: To promote continuity.

Striking after the throw-in
Law 20
Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front-row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in must strike for the ball.
Rationale: To promote a fair contest for possession.
Sanction: Free-kick

Law 15.4 (c)
The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then can only play from their own side of the tackle “gate”.
Rationale: To make the tackle/ruck simpler for players and referees and more consistent with the rest of that law.

Law 16
A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created. Players on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives, no hands can be used.
Rationale: To make the ruck simpler for players and referees.

Other ruck offences
Law 16.4
A player must not kick the ball out of a ruck. The player can only hook it in a backwards motion.
Rationale: To promote player welfare and to make it consistent with scrum law.
Sanction: Penalty

Monday 3 July 2017

Law 10.4 and running/jumping

Would love to hear some discussion of the tackle in the 77th min of the ABs v Lions game. The law is 10.4, but if this is applied then surely there are many in game situations which could be penalised, especially around the goal line.
Law 10.4 Dangerous play and misconduct (e): "Dangerous tackling. A player must not tackle an opponent whose feet are off the ground
All the best,
 Hi Simon

The referee stated that the penalty was for tackling the player in the air.  The player was receiving a badly thrown pass and jumped to take the pass.

By the letter of the law the referee was correct, however The Rugby Ref believes this is a dangerous precedent to set.  If all a player has to do is jump when he sees a tackle coming in, so that his feet are off the ground when he gets tackled, and gets a penalty kick as a result, then The Rugby Ref believes the game would become unplayable.

Both your feet are off the ground quite a lot when you are running, but we don't penalise tackles on people who are running.

It may be that the referee gave the penalty for dangerous play since the tackler didn't wrap the ball carrier, but if that is the case, then his wording didn't help the situation at all.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 17 April 2017

In Possession or not?

Northampton vs Saracens Sunday April.16 This from match report....73 minutes 
Quote 'Bit of TMO-based drama. Billy Vunipola burst through and tried to loop a pass over to the right. Foden batted the ball up in the air and attempted to regather, but was taken out by Schalk Brits. Original decision is a scrum to Saracens. The TMO suggests another look, but Matthew Carley sticks with the initial call. unquote courtesy Daily Telegraph 
In fact ref even goes so far as to say there was 'no certainty' that guy who last touched ball (Foden) would have caught the ball.   
Rule 10.4 (f) clearly states "(f) Playing an opponent without the ball.Except in a scrum, ruck or maul, a player must not hold, push or obstruct an opponent not carrying the ball.Sanction: Penalty kick  
My rugby ref buddy says ref call was correct because the act of ball bouncing up from players' hands means he is in possession. Ridiculous IMO. 
Hi Peter

Sorry to tell you, but your ref buddy is correct.

If a player is juggling the ball, such as trying to regathering a knocked on ball he is deemed to be in possession.

If he wasn't in possession, then you wouldn't be able to tackle him. This would mean a player could 'juggle' the ball as he ran down the pitch from one end to the other and no one would be able to stop him. This would clearly be ridiculous.

So a player who holds the ball, or juggles the ball, or loses the ball and is in the act of regaining it, is deemed to be 'in possession' and can be tackled. A scrum was correct for the knock on.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday 30 March 2017

Last play?

U15 schools final at Twickenham half time clock in the red but Wellington awarded a penalty. Ref says can't go for lineout but offers them a scrum this correct ?
Simon Carlton Rhodes

Hi Simon

Yes all correct...for this season (see below).

You can't finish the game on a penalty play continues until the ball is dead, but if the clock is dead then when you kick to touch the game is over, as the referee would have then awarded a lineout.
Law 5.7  (e) If time expires and the ball is not dead, or an awarded scrum or lineout has not been completed, the referee allows play to continue until the next time that the ball becomes dead. The ball becomes dead when the referee would have awarded a scrum, lineout, an option to the non-infringing team, drop out or after a conversion or successful penalty kick at goal. If a scrum has to be reset, the scrum has not been completed. If time expires and a mark, free kick or penalty kick is then awarded, the referee allows play to continue.
As a penalty had been awarded the game was still live.  But you can take a scrum in lieu of the penalty.
Law 21.4 (a) Scrum alternative. A team awarded a penalty or free kick may choose a scrum instead. They throw in the ball.
However: please note that from August 1st 2017 onward a new law variation is in place (already being used in the Southern Hemisphere).
LAW AMENDMENT TRIALIf a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player , the throw-in is taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.
So the referee was correct.
The Rugby Ref

Monday 27 March 2017

A query on penalty tries.

Hey RR..  A question on penalty tries.  The laws are quite straight forward: “ act of foul play when a try would probably have been scored.”
But. When evaluating whether a try would ‘probably have been scored’, does one remove the offending player from the equation altogether (alternate universe) or include in the balance of probabilities any legal options that player may have had?
Not likely relevant at breakdown penalties, but certainly instances of offside and dangerous tackles would apply.  In the latter, in the instance of a player making a high tackle, the same player may have been in a position to make a perfectly legal try-stopping tackle.
Gave a pen try a while ago that would have passed criteria either way but the question entered my head at the time & I’m curious if I should continue to entertain it.
Hi Martin

Yes, in evaluating a penalty try we use what many referees call the "Beam me up Scotty" approach. That is to say you not only remove the foul play from the equation, but also the player who committed it.

If the player who committed the foul play was suddenly "beamed up" and not on the field, would the player with the ball probably have scored?

Obviously you also need to take into account any other defenders and support players, as well as such things like distance from the try line.

If it was just one on one 10m out, and the defender high tackles the attacker, you remove the defender from the equation altogether and the result is that there is nothing to stop the attacker scoring a try, so Penalty Try.

The Rugby Ref

No maul formed from a line out

Hi Sir,
From below clip, white team won the line out but red team didn't make a maul meanwhile the white team stayed without moving forward. The ref called a scrum to white.
Did the ref apply the rule 20.4(d)?
BTW, is there any definition about "stoppage" in 20.4(d)
NB: you may need to view in YouTube depending on your location, and then fast forward to see the incident in question.  2.28 on the slider or 45.00 on the game clock.

This was a very unusual incident. The ball is at the front of the "not a maul" so no obstruction, red team have not left the lineout.  There is no obligation for either team to do anything, however the referee is trying to facilitate a game of rugby, so yes The Rugby Ref believes he gave a scrum to white under the heading "any irregularity not covered by law".

Let's just play rugby fellas?
(d) Scrum after any other stoppage. After any other stoppage or irregularity not covered by Law, the team that was moving forward before the stoppage throws in the ball. If neither team was moving forward, the attacking team throws in the ball.
The Rugby Ref

Friday 17 March 2017

Who would want to be a referee?

Rugby presents a unique challenge in that the referee is required to make a specific decision about a contested tackle almost 200 times a match (once every 30 seconds), and this decision is multi-dimensional, instantaneous and open to interpretation.‪..‬

Consider that a typical match has about 170 rucks (or contests for the ball in a tackle) , and you realise that there are probably 100 decisions (because not all are contested the same way) where the referee must interpret, in a split second, a dizzying array of laws, and where each decision has implications for what follows.

Why do we do it?

Because we love it.

The Rugby Ref

Wednesday 15 March 2017

The Top 100 Websites For Rugby Players (...and Referees) has made the list of the Top 100 websites for rugby players, check out the full list with the link below:

Rugby Warfare's Top 100 websites for Rugby Players

Don't forget if you are a player and have a question about the Laws of the Game you can email The Rugby Ref using the "Ask The Ref" link on the right of this page.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday 2 March 2017

When does a ruck cease to be a ruck?

My question: when does a ruck end? I think you are going to say: either when the ball successfully leaves it (play on), or when it becomes unplayable (scrum to someone, or worse)……
…….But what I am really getting at is: can the defending team effectively end a ruck by disengaging from it? I can see nothing in the laws that says it ends if there become too few players involved.
(I have not been back through the whole of the Italy v England game, but I am fairly sure that in a number of cases an Italian player committed to the ruck (ruck formed, as in my view you don't need to wait for the ref to say so) and then decided against it and backed out again. I am not in any way criticising Italy for what they did, but I am interested to know if M. Poite policed it correctly - I am expecting that we will see this tactic at club level now and we are working on solutions to it). 
Hi Charlie

Good question following on from the "not engaging" Italy tactic.

Your first statement is correct:  The ball leaves (successful end); The ball is unplayable (unsuccessful end).
16.6 SUCCESSFUL END TO A RUCKA ruck ends successfully when the ball leaves the ruck, or when the ball is on or over the goal line.
16.7 UNSUCCESSFUL END TO A RUCK(a) A ruck ends unsuccessfully when the ball becomes unplayable and a scrum is ordered.
 So to move to your second question.  If players from one team leave the ruck have we satisfied 16.6 or 16.7 above?  The answer is 'No' we haven't, so the ruck still exists.

The Rugby Ref also thinks that Romain Poite may have got it wrong on a couple of occasions, but we are talking about split second decisions in a dynamic moving environment. You turn to check the offside lines for a second and in that moment someone can engage to form a ruck and then leave again, so we can't blame the referee.  As ever play to the whistle.  Romain Poite was very good at verbally explaining to the players what phase of play they were in to try and avoid any issues.  "Tackle only".  "Ruck formed".

To paraphrase M. Poite "I am a referee not a coach", but most referees have played the game.  If Italy are pushing players forward to surround the tackle area then they must be leaving holes in their defensive line, so pick and drive should exploit those holes.  Once beyond the line you can then pass out to your wings. This is effectively what England did, but it took them around 33 minutes to work it out.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 27 February 2017

Use It!

Based upon this Sunday’s “interesting” approach to the ruck by Italy…my question is,
Can the referee still require the scrum-half to “use it” if no ruck or maul is called? (As he did in the Italy v England game)
If not, then there might be  even more “interesting” outcomes.
Julian Jones

Hi Julian

First we need to establish that the Italian approach was "Not" to let a ruck form.  There plan was that if no ruck is formed following a tackle, then there are no offside lines, so their players can go round to the far side of the tackle area and block the 9 to 10 line.  They do have to be careful not to breach the tackle zone, or they are guilty of not entering through the gate.  The tackle zone is an area 1m from the tackle, all round it.

The Law Book mentions "Use It" in the laws on the scrum, ruck and maul.  The lawmakers probably never envisioned that it would be required at a tackle only situation.  However we cannot let the ball sit at the back of a tackle forever, so it would be reasonable for the referee to call "use it" in that situation.

We also have law 15.6 at our disposal.

15.6 (e) Any player who gains possession of the ball at the tackle must play the ball immediately by moving away or passing or kicking the ball.
Sanction: Penalty kick

Thanks for raising this point
The Rugby Ref

Feeding Scrums

Has the law changed as the ball now seems to be put in behind the front row instead of straight down the middle for the Hooker to hook?
Hi Steve

No the law hasn't changed and we still penalise it at grass roots.
What you might see on the television is a different game.
20.6  (d) The scrum half must throw in the ball straight along the middle line, so that it first touches the ground immediately beyond the width of the nearer prop’s shoulders.
Sanction: Free Kick
The Rugby Ref

Thursday 9 February 2017

Set Scrum

Dear ref
during a set scrum is one of the locks allowed to slip his binding  of his second row partner and drop his shoulder  allowing him to reach into the scrum as a wyn-jones did last week
HI Martin

The Rugby Ref didn't see the incident you were referring to, but locks must maintain a continuous bind with each other and with the front row for the length of the scrum. Handling the ball in the scrum (if that's what happened) is also illegal.

20.3(f) Binding by all other players. All players in a scrum, other than front-row players, must bind on a lock’s body with at least one arm prior to the scrum engagement. The locks must bind with the props in front of them. No other player other than a prop may hold an opponent.  Sanction: Penalty kick
20.9(b) All players: Handling in the scrum. Players must not handle the ball in the scrum or pick it up with their legs.  Sanction: Penalty kick
The Rugby Ref

Saturday 28 January 2017

Why we play the game - By Rupert McCall

When the battle scars have faded
And the truth becomes a lie.
And the weekend smell of liniment
Could almost make you cry.

When the last ruck’s well behind you
And the man that ran now walks
It doesn’t matter who you are
The mirror sometimes talks

Have a good hard look old son!
The melon’s not that great
The snoz that takes a sharp turn sideways
Used to be dead straight

You’re an advert for arthritis
You’re a thoroughbred gone lame
Then you ask yourself the question
Why the hell you played the game?

Was there logic in the head knocks?
In the corks and in the cuts?
Did common sense get pushed aside?
By manliness and guts?

Do you sometimes sit and wonder
Why your time would often pass
In a tangled mess of bodies
With your head up someone’s arse?

With a thumb hooked up your nostril
Scratching gently on your brain
And an overgrown Neanderthal
Rejoicing in your pain!

Mate – you must recall the jersey
That was shredded into rags
Then the soothing sting of Dettol
On a back engraved with tags!

It’s almost worth admitting
Though with some degree of shame
That your wife was right in asking
Why the hell you played the game?

Why you’d always rock home legless
Like a cow on roller skates
After drinking at the clubhouse
With your low down drunken mates

Then you’d wake up – check your wallet
Not a solitary coin
Drink Berocca by the bucket
Throw an ice pack on your groin

Copping Sunday morning sermons
About boozers being losers
While you limped like Quasimodo
With a half a thousand bruises!

Yes – an urge to hug the porcelain
And curse Sambuca’s name
Would always pose the question
Why the hell you played the game!

And yet with every wound re-opened
As you grimly reminisce it
Comes the most compelling feeling yet
God, you bloody miss it!

From the first time that you laced a boot
And tightened every stud
That virus known as rugby
Has been living in your blood

When you dreamt it when you played it
All the rest took second fiddle
Now you’re standing on the sideline
But your hearts still in the middle

And no matter where you travel
You can take it as expected
There will always be a breed of people
Hopelessly infected

If there’s a teammate, then you’ll find him
Like a gravitating force
With a common understanding
And a beer or three, of course

And as you stand there telling lies
Like it was yesterday old friend
You’ll know that if you had the chance
You’d do it all again

You see – that’s the thing with rugby
It will always be the same
And that, I guarantee
Is why the hell you played the game!

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Tackle Query...

A situation arose in an u13 game I was reffing when a defender went to tackle the attacking player who had the ball but as they made contact the ball carrier put the ball under one arm and 'tackled the tackler' by lifting his leg causing him to go to ground. I played on at the time but on reflection I wonder if this constituted tackling a player without the ball?
Mike Owen
Oswestry RFC

Hi Mike

As you will be aware, at that level the referee is also part coach.  What you describe is not something we want to be encouraging (you are correct in that technically he is playing a man without the ball), so needs to be dealt with at the time.  By allowing the game to play on you are missing the opportunity to educate the player, so he may think this is acceptable practise.

The Rugby Refs advice would be to stop the game and award a penalty for playing the man without the ball, but don't restart without first having a word with the player to explain what he has done wrong.  The ball carrier may fend off the other player (nb: not at all age groups), but may not attempt to tackle him.

This is not something The Rugby Ref has come across before Mike, so thanks for highlighting it.

The Rugby Ref

Is this a penalty?

Hello Rugby Ref,
This Saturday during our match the opposition threw a loose pass, which went way over the receiver and towards the touch line at about half way. This left me in a race against my opposite number for the ball. I could see I was going to get to the ball before my opponent and that there was a big empty space behind him, with the ball still rolling close to touch I opted to kick. I made a good clean contact with the ball and sent in down the line towards towards my opponents 10 meter line. which should have left me in a race against the full back who was coming back from the opposite side of the pitch. however the oppositions winger did a slide tackle very much like in the game of football. his feet and legs made contact with mine and wiped me clean off my feet. The contact was made literally a split second after I had kicked the ball so it was no question of being "late".
No decision was made by our referee and play continued they recovered the ball and went on to score there only try in the opposite side of the field.
My questions to you are.
1. Should this have been given as a penalty. In my understanding tripping isn't a legal form of tackling and should be no different in this scenario?
2. Could it possibly have been a yellow card as it was in my opinion cynical? I was favourite to recover the ball and leave myself 1v1 with the fullback
3. If he had instead of tripping me up, tackled me instead would this be considered fair or foul? 
4. Are you classed to have had possession of the ball when kicking a lose ball meaning somebody could tackle you to stop you chasing the ball?
I look Forward to your reply
Kind Regards

Hi Adam

A tackle is defined as the ball carrier being held and brought to ground, so this was not a tackle as you describe it.  From your description the Rugby Ref would have called it dangerous play, so it would result in a Penalty Kick. Dangerous play could also incur a Yellow Card.

If he had tackled you he would have been tackling a player without the ball (as you fly hacked the ball you were never in possession of it), so that would have been a penalty also.

Hopefully that has answered all your questions.

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Advantage query

Hello the Rugby Ref!
I had two queries about advantage I wondered if you could help with.
1) Law 8.3e states the following:
After the ball has been made dead. Advantage cannot be played after the ball has been made dead.
So does this mean advantage finishes if the team appears to deliberately put the ball into touch (e.g. kick up field)? And what if they did it accidentally (e.g. fling a long pass to the winger but it goes out instead)? Even if you're playing penalty advantage for an infringement, it becomes a lineout for the opposite team?
2) Law 8.5b states that:
If advantage is being played following an infringement by one team and then the other team commit an infringement, the referee blows the whistle and applies the sanctions associated with the first infringement. If either infringement is for foul play, the referee applies the appropriate sanction for that offence. The referee may also temporarily suspend, or order off, the offending player.
I wondered what you do if both infringements are of equal weight, e.g both penalty offences (such as offside) or both foul play offences (e.g. dangerous tackle)? Who gets the penalty?
Thank you very much
Melissa Wright

Hi Melissa

Good questions.

Question 1. Advantage cannot be played after the ball goes dead. So let's suppose the blue team is playing with penalty advantage and kick the ball ahead.  It hits a red player and goes into touch. The blue team cannot take a quick throw in and continue to play with the penalty advantage.

The ball was made dead from going into touch, so you cannot continue with the advantage, it must be either advantage over, or go back for the penalty.  For that you have to think "what would the team reasonably have expected to get from the original offence".

In your scenarios, if they accidentally threw the ball into touch from a wild pass from a penalty advantage I would probably come back for the original offence.
If they kicked the ball ahead (out of free choice, not under pressure) from a scrum advantage I would call advantage over while the ball was in the air because they had the freedom to play the ball as they chose.  The result of the kick is almost immaterial, the advantage doesn't allow them to get a second kick if the first one is bad because the most they would have got from a scrum advantage is clean ball from the scrum and a kick ahead.
A kick ahead from a penalty advantage is a different thing because what they would have expected to get from the penalty is a kick to touch with their throw in.  If they don't get something similar then we would come back for the penalty.

Question 2. Foul play trumps a technical offence such as a knock on; it is more serious.  For two technical offences, such as two knock on's, you come back for the first one.  If the second offence is foul play then you go with that.  If both offences are for foul play you must judge which is the more serious.Think of it this way, having advantage does not give the other team free rein to punch someone without sanction. If they did that they would pay the consequences for their actions.

Hope that all makes sense.
The Rugby Ref