Monday 19 November 2018

Maul question

On Saturday I reffed a level 9 game. During the maul phase players went to ground, not deliberately. On two occasions players insisted they could remain holding the ball on the ground to prevent the player in possession getting the ball to scrum half ie (blue tackles red, remain on feet, maul formed. Blue and red players wrestling for ball fall to floor on red side. Blues remains holding ball preventing continuum of play). What worries me that both teams attempted this tactic and inferred this was allowed. 
I sanctioned both plays as playing the ball on floor preventing release. Was I incorrect. I have re read the Law 16.16 but I am non the wiser? 

Unfortunately the players were correct on this occasion, but well done for questioning yourself and hopefully you will be able to get it right from now on.

When a maul goes to ground legally (i.e. it was not pulled down by anyone) then players who have a hold of the ball or ball carrier do not have to release or roll away (law 16 doesn't say they have to; as it does in the tackle law for instance). 

This then becomes an unsuccessful maul because the ball has become unplayable and/or was not immediately available.  The result is a scrum turned over to the team that didn't take it in (unless it was formed from a kick in open play; see law 16.18).

The wording of the law has changed slightly in the new 2018 law book, but the law itself hasn't changed. 

Also remember they don't have to roll away if they are on the ball as it collapses, but they can't dive over the ball after the maul goes down.  And the ball must be available immediately for play to continue.

The Rugby Ref

Another game, another changing room...

Here we are again 17/20

The changing room was basic, but had everything you need...except a mirror.  Own toilet and shower (although the pressure was low), lovely warm heater. 8/10

The pie and beans was so nice The Rugby Ref had eaten half of it before he remembered to take a photo.  Good pint of ale.  The cardboard bowl was marginally better than a foam one, but trying to eat a pie with a flimsy plastic fork was a challenge.  9/10

Tuesday 23 October 2018

Hi, I saw your blog and wonder if you'd like to weigh in on an event that happened to me on Saturday?
Lineout, red throw in and the ball goes in not straight. The blue team throw up a jumper who stretches so far to get the ball that his lifters drop him cold on his back.
I gave a FK as a safety measure -  under 18 28 c) Lift or support a player from the same team. Players who support or lift a team-mate must lower the player to the ground safely as soon as the ball is won by a player of either team.
However the appeals were quite interesting. They agreed with the event, but suggested that because an obvious 'not straight' was the first offence and there was no foul play, that I should have ignored the player getting dropped afterwards.
Perhaps, in hindsight as 18 28 c) is intended to stop players being held up longer than necessary that they were right and that dropping your own player should be a PK under 9 11) Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others.
Hi Chris

An interesting question.  What outweighs what when we have more than one offence.

Basically we have two events:
Throw not straight.  Line out or Scrum on the 15m line.
Player not lowered to the ground safely.  Free Kick.

You were right to use law 18.28, the key phrase being: "Players who support or lift a team-mate must lower the player to the ground safely as soon as the ball is won".

This is in line with the new law on lifting a player in open play (9.26) which repeats the phrase above and also gives the sanction of a Free Kick.

So which offence takes precedence?

The Rugby Ref would suggest that the principles of refereeing should prevail.  Safety first, then Enjoyment/Equity, then Law.  Safety always comes first.  Although a Free Kick would usually outweigh a line out / scrum option anyway.

So if safety trumps law, then you should penalise the team not bringing their team-mate to ground safely.

Free Kick to Red.  However The Rugby Ref would have no problem with a Penalty Kick to Red for dangerous play.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 15 October 2018

5th game of the season

5th game of the season for The Rugby Ref, 18/20

The changing room was great, own shower, nice and warm, drink and snack waiting...but no mirror and referee's are a vain bunch.  9/10

Good pint of Guinness and a lovely spicy bowl of meat and potato stew.  But again it came in those horrible foam bowls with a plastic spoon.  9/10

Monday 8 October 2018

Penalty or Penalty Try

In Saturday's test between SA v NZ we again saw a penalty awarded to the attacking team on the tryline under the defenders’ posts with the attackers in dominant mood and possession. Somewhere in the pile up of players a defender was seen to be infringing the law and in doing so conceded a pretty certain 3 points, instead of a likely 7 points, behaviour that could easily be deemed a cynical offence given that  it saved 4 points. I am not referring to collapsing mauls after lineouts, a different matter completely, but the repetition of forwards’ throwing themselves at the tryline, with possession being retained for any number of times, invariably moving towards the posts in the process. Then suddenly, a penalty awarded against a defender - surprise surprise! 
It happens too much in Super and Test rugby and is very seldom deemed cynical, yet the arithmetic makes such sense that it would not be surprising if it was an unspoken ‘nudge,nudge' coaching tactic that no-one could ever admit to. We’ve just had two 34-32 and 32-30 brilliant test matches, so these points saved are potentially match winning ones. 
World Cup Finals are also won by 2 or 3 points, so this habitual offence could be noted, the rule book changed and coaches warned and the referees told that a penalty try for these infringements on or within a lock’s body length of the line, call it 2m, will be awarded.
Your thoughts on why this won't work would be appreciated by a bunch of us!
Hi Gus

You seem to be asking The Rugby Ref to make a judgement on whether a particular law should be changed or not.  That is outside of the remit of The Rugby Referee.  The Referee is like a policeman in some ways, he upholds the law, but he doesn't make it.

There are processes in place that cover the situation described.  If foul play prevents a probable try then a penalty try can be awarded.  If there is persistent foul play then a yellow card for persistent offending can be shown.  This gives the attacking team a numerical advantage and they can choose whether to take the 3 points or keep attacking the goal line.  That decision is a tactical one, not a legal one.  There is risk and reward in both choices.  You may miss the kick?  You may spill the ball if you keep going through the phases.  Likewise for the defenders.  That is what makes rugby such a fascinating game.

The Rugby Ref

Sunday 7 October 2018

Grounding the ball and Uncontested scrums

I was watching two games simultaneously this Saturday and have two questions; 
First, the attacking team took a penalty kick at goal which fell marginally short, one of the defenders caught it with one foot in-goal and one foot in the field of play.He then ran to the 22 and took a quick re-start. My question is did the defender take the ball in-goal, so should it have been a 5 metre scrum, or was the referee right to allow the 22 drop out? 
My second question from this weekend involves numbers in the scrum. In the game the team in blue had had a player sent off for a tip tackle so were playing with 14. A little later they needed to go ‘uncontested’ (I’ll not go into why, however it did look like gamesmanship), this is allowed in the competition rules without the need to ‘drop a player’, my question is twofold. Firstly should they have had numerical parity in the scrum? Secondly, if so in a lower level Yorkshire Merit fixture whose responsibility is it to make sure it happens? Should the referee know the competition rules or is it a Law, or should the opposing team have to ask for parity 
All the best, as ever, 
Hi Jim

First question: From your description the ball was still in the field of play, but the catcher had a foot on the goal line. That means the catcher took the ball back into in goal. If he then grounds the ball he has taken it back into in-goal, so it’s a 5m attacking scrum.
However, from your description he didn’t ground the ball at all, so it’s play on.
Law 21. 13 and 14 refer.
Law 21
13.  If any part of a defending player is in in-goal, that player is considered to be in in-goal, provided they are not also in touch or on or over the dead-ball line.
14.  If a player, who is in in-goal, catches or picks up a ball that is still in the field of play, that player has taken the ball into in-goal.

Second question: all uncontested scrums must be played with 8 v 8.  Law 3.15 tells us this. As this is a law rather than a competition regulation then the referee should know this. Teams should have copies of any competition regulations on hand.
Law 3
15.  Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.

Thanks for the questions.
The Rugby Ref.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

4th game of the season

4th game of the season for The Rugby Ref and a solid 18/20.

A really nice changing room with it's own shower and toilet.  It only gets 9/10 though because when you step out of the shower you are right in front of a window that's opposite a window in the bar, with no curtain or blind.

The meal was a really nice burger from a local butcher with a pint of Guinness.  Didn't get a picture because I was talking to the assessor for ages after the game. 9/10 also.

Saturday 22 September 2018

3rd game of the season

3rd game of the season for The Rugby Ref, well actually 3 games with a tri-team Vets tournament.  Two hours of refereeing for The Rugby Ref, total score 20/20

The changing room was large and clean.  Nice shower and a drink and a chocolate bar waiting for the referee. 10/10

There was a fantastic buffet laid on for the occasion, so the after match meal scores 10/10 as well.

Monday 17 September 2018

Off side line at a tackle

Hi ref .Can you clarify new off side line at a tackle.The law says once a player is over the ball , off side lines are created.  Also the world rugby picture ( in their app ) Regarding tackle Shows a picture regarding off side lines with the 1st arriving player , actually stepping over the ball ..
Can you clarify what over the ball means .Does the 1st arriving player , need to actually step over the ball ..
What if he simply leans over the ball. But doesnt step over the ball
Also , if a jackler with hands on the ball , but feet still behind ball .Does this. Create an off side line ..
Thanks from jacky
Hi Jacky

So the law now says:
Law 14.10
Offside lines are created at a tackle when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball, which is on the ground. Each team’s offside line runs parallel to the goal line through the hindmost point of any player in the tackle or on their feet over the ball. If that point is on or behind the goal line, the offside line for that team is the goal line.
In practise this means we initially have a tackle with a tackler and ball carrier on the floor with the ball.  If a player picks up the ball after entering the tackle area from his own side, then play continues.  But if an arriving player stands over the ball in a position to initiate a ruck, then offside lines are created.  Don't get too hung up on the wording, when a player stands over the ball or the tackle you will know it.  It will look like it always has at the start of a ruck where one player waits for contact from the opposition.

If a jackler has his hands on the ball, he will by definition be over the ball in some way, so yes offside lines are still created.  If a ruck is created he can continue to play the ball as long as he isn't driven off it (commonly know as being beaten by the ruck).

It is always useful to think less about what the law says and more about what it is trying to achieve.  In this instance the law is wanting to prevent opposition players loitering on the wrong side of a tackle to prevent the ball being played away.  Previously there were no offside lines at a tackle so this was allowed.  Now once we have a player over the tackle the new offside lines prevent this negative play.

Hope that all makes sense.
The Rugby Ref

2nd game of the season

2nd game of the season for The Rugby Ref, total score 19/20

The referees changing room was perfect. Nice size, own toilet and shower, lovely and clean with a mirror.  Drink and snack also provided.  10/10

The after match meal was a lovely stew with some fresh bread, there was also the option of a curry.  Plastic cutlery and bowl let it down a bit, so 9/10

Wednesday 12 September 2018

I've just bought myself some new Canterbury boots, a good reputable rugby
brand, but I am a bit dubious about the legality of the studs.  If presented
with these on a Saturday I would think twice about allowing them to be used.
The tips are the requisite 10mm across but my concern is that the tips are
not rounded and therefore have an "edge".
Are these legal?
Timothy Wilcox

Hi, I was wondering are these studs legal for the 2018/19 rugby season
Many thanks

Hi Tim and Liam

It seems you have both bought the same boots!

If as Tim says, the tips are more than 10mm across then the boots (studs) are legal, but Tim highlights a good point.  Are the boots "safe".

If the edge of the studs became sharp of scuffed then the boots could become unsafe very quickly.

The Rugby Ref would recommend running your hand across the studs, if they scratch or cut your hand then they are unsafe.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 3 September 2018

1st game of the season

1st game of the season for The Rugby Ref.  Total score 12/20

Unfortunately the referee's room at the club was designed by a scrum half with a ceiling height of under 6'.  Since The Rugby Ref is 6' 8" this proved less than adequate. However it was clean with it's own shower so it gets a score of 7/10

The after match meal was a bacon butty with a bottle of warmish Brakspear Bitter 5/10

Monday 9 July 2018

When a scrum half attempts to hide misbehavior at a penalty restart

To the Rugby Ref 
A few times per season in club or high school rugby here in the US, I see (usually) a scrum half take a penalty by standing in front of the ball at the referee's mark; then with ball in hand and with his back to the opponents (obviously striving to hide his actions from them) who are 10 metres away, will restart play. The scrummie will pretend to touch the ball to his foot (and may or may not do so) and will virtually never actually propel the ball out of hand. 
Most refs ignore all parts of this; 
a) that the scrummie is often in front of the mark, 
b) that the ball often fails to even touch the foot and 
c) almost never actually leaves the scrummie's hand and thus was not propelled by the foot, a.k.a., it was not a kick. 
Since the defending captain cannot see these nefarious actions, I cannot even urge our captain to address the referee about it. I have seen one excellent South African ref a few years ago discipline such players but it seems rare, at least here in NA. Any comments please?
Hi Claude

A few questions there, so lets look at them one at a time.

First of all there is nothing in law to prevent a player from taking a penalty kick with his back to the opposition. In fact the law actually states that the kick may be taken in any direction, so that is fine.

The kick must be taken on the mark or on a line behind it, however most referees will be happy if the kick is taken near the mark.  This is because the referee may not have time to make an actual mark if the non offending team want to go quickly.  We don't want to stop teams playing quickly so as long as the kick is within a meter of the mark they will usually be allowed to play on.  If a team does take a penalty kick from the wrong place, the law merely says the kick must be retaken from the correct place.  So it would be very pedantic of a referee to make a team retake a kick for being a little bit in front of the mark.

Regarding the ball not touching the foot or not leaving the hands, that is entirely different.  The quick tap is a skill that must be learned and we shouldn't allow players to ignore it.  The law says the ball must visibly leave the hands, or be kicked off the mark.  If it isn't then the opposition get a scrum at the mark.  However The Rugby Referee would expect to warn a scrum half the first time this happens, then award a scrum if it persists. 

Some referees may think it's being pedantic to award the scrum, but it shouldn't be ignored, except maybe with young children who don't have the skill to perform a quick tap. We don't want to discourage youngsters from playing, but once they get to around 13 or 14 we shouldn't allow them to ignore the law.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 18 June 2018

Deliberate knock on.

I have a question regarding the referee's sanction for a deliberate knock on. 
In most Super Rugby games and most internationals, a Yellow Card is awarded yet my understanding is that a penalty is the sanction recommended under Law 11. 
Why are referees awarding Yellow Cards for this then?  It's very frustrating as was seen in the Australia v Ireland game today when some were penalised and one was Yellow Carded.
Any clarification on this would be greatly appreciated.
Hi Rob

Good question, when does a referee decide to issue a yellow card?  This is not just a deliberate knock on question, it can apply to many offences.

Generally speaking referees may issue a yellow card for one of the following reasons:

  • Repeat offending by a team
  • Repeat offending by a player
  • Deliberate offending by a player (cynical offence)
  • Preventing a possible try or breakaway

A deliberate knock on would usually fall under the last two on that list. If the deliberate knock on was a blatant attempt to stop the attack, or disrupt a pass that may have broken the gain line it could be a yellow card offence.  If it happens near the offending teams goal line it will almost certainly be a yellow card and maybe even a penalty try, but at the other end of the field it would only be a penalty.  

A deliberate knock on may just be a clumsy attempt at intercepting the ball, rather than a "professional foul".  

So the referee has to balance many things when deciding on a sanction.  Was it deliberate or accidental?  Was it just clumsy or just a lack of skill?  Where did the offence happen on the field?  What might have happened next?  All of this goes through the referees mind in a split second.

At the top end of the game referees also get directives as a group to deal with trends in the game that World Rugby or the Unions decide is becoming a problem.  So if it not impossible that deliberate knock on's have become more prevalent and a tactic to disrupt the flow of the game in Super Rugby, and referees have been told to come down hard on it.  If that is the case then all of the teams involved will probably have been warned in advance about this.

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 12 June 2018

Tackled player releasing the ball?

Dear Rugby Ref;
Law 14. item 7a, does not say nor imply that a tackled player may, while lying on the ground, hold the ball up in the air for a number of seconds on the back side of a ruck waiting for a teammate to grasp the ball in a hand-to-hand transfer. How can this be legal? Are referees simply letting players get away without complying with "Make the ball available so that play can continue by releasing, passing or pushing the ball...?" 
Claude Hughes 
U19 Backs Coach 
Hi Claude

A tackled player must, as you state, do the following:
Law 14
7. Tackled players must immediately:
a. Make the ball available so that play can continue by releasing, passing or pushingthe ball in any direction except forward. They may place the ball in any direction.
b. Move away from the ball or get up.
c. Ensure that they do not lie on, over or near the ball to prevent opposition playersfrom gaining possession of it.
The key phrases for the referee are "Make the ball available so that play can continue" and "Ensure they do not...prevent opposition players from gaining possession".

In other words, the referee is looking for a fair contest and not having to blow the whistle unless necessary, to keep the game flowing.

Whether the tackled player holds the ball on the ground, or a few inches off it doesn't matter as long as it has no material affect on the game.  If an opposition player legally makes a play for the ball and the tackled player releases it...Play on.  If the tackled player prevents the opposition from playing the ball, he should be penalised.

What you describe is not technically legal, but it's not really illegal either.  It's what happens next that really counts. Let's look for ways to keep the game going, not for ways to penalise players on a technicality.  After all how many times do you see a tackled player penalised for 7b, not moving away from the ball?  Never, unless they prevent the ball from being played.

Thanks for the question.
The Rugby Ref

Monday 9 April 2018

Scrums and Penalty Tries

Hi there,
I have a question about scrums and penalty tries. Quite a common scenario. Attacking team on the defending team's 5 metre line. Several scrums keep getting called due to the defending team's scrum collapsing/standing/prop losing his bind etc. My question is, when does the ref give a yellow to the offending prop, and when does he give a penalty try? I've seen matches (like the Bath Leicester game I'm currently watching) where it goes on forever. Constantly resetting scrums through a penalty, giving 1 or 2 yellow cards to the props. Not good to watch. What is the decision on whether to give a yellow or a penalty try (and possibly a yellow as well as a penalty try??)?
Kind Regards,Calum Robertson
Hi Calum

This is actually two questions, yellow cards for repeat offending and penalty tries.
Repeat offending by a team is covered in law 9.8
8. A team must not repeatedly commit the same offence.
9. A player must not repeatedly infringe the laws.Sanction: Penalty.
10. When different players of the same team repeatedly commit the same offence, thereferee gives a general caution to the team and if they then repeat the offence, thereferee temporarily suspends the guilty player(s).
 Generally speaking if a team (or an individual player) commits the same offence two or three times in a short space of time, then the referee will warn the team.  If they then offend again he may issue a yellow card for repeat offending.

Penalty tries are covered by law 8.3
3. A penalty try is awarded between the goal posts if foul play by the opposing teamprevents a probable try from being scored, or scored in a more advantageous position. Aplayer guilty of this must be cautioned and temporarily suspended or sent off.
So two points from Law 8.3 first the offence must be foul play, so listed under Law 9.  Second the offence must have stopped a probable try.

In the example of a scrum on the 5m line a prop might intentionally collapse the scrum, which is foul play.  If he (or the team) does this repeatedly, then the referee may warn them, followed by a yellow card if it continues.  However this would only lead to a penalty try if a try would probably have been scored if the scrum hadn't collapsed.  So essentially a referee would look for the attacking team to have got the scrum moving forward and be heading for a try.  If the defending team then collapses the scrum to prevent the try from being scored the referee may award a penalty try.

You are right to ask the question as many people think that a penalty try should be given just because a scrum is collapsed on the 5m line.  But if the scrum is static, or the ball hasn't been hooked by the attackers, then is is not necessarily probable that a try would have been scored as a result.

Thanks for the question Calum
The Rugby Ref hopes that explains it for you.

Tuesday 27 March 2018

Minimum number of players

Hi, if i start with 7 players on the pitch, and no subs, what is the minimum number of players i must have on the pitch before the game is forfeit,  if i have injuries that can't continue? thanks.

Interesting question.  The law is silent on the minimum number of players required to be in a team, the only thing it mentions is that there has to be a minimum of 5 players in a scrum.  So assuming you also need to have a someone to put the ball into a scrum, then 6 a side is as low as you can go.

Having said that league and competition regulations will often cover this, especially at the lower levels, but this usually covers how many players you need to start a match, not how many you need to finish it.

So in the absence of any other information The Rugby Ref would say 6 to a side.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday 22 March 2018

Tackling a player in the air

Players being tackled whilst in the air has become one of the big taboos in the modern game, and rightly so in certain circumstances. My question is on a situation out of the norm.
Anyone who watched the England v Wales match this season will have applauded Sam Underhill's superb try saving tackle on Scott Williams. If you didn't see it, Williams dived early and tried to slide for the try line in the corner, and Underhill grabbed him and rolled him into touch. What if Williams had dived for the corner but had stayed up in the air? If Underhill had tackled him then and got him into touch, would it have been a penalty try and a yellow card?

Hi John

You are correct that the law says you cannot tackle a player in the air.  Specifically it says:
Law 9
17. A player must not tackle, charge, pull, push or grasp an opponent whose feet are off the ground.
However we have to careful taking the law literally.  When a player is running there are times when both feet are off the floor, but that does not mean you cannot tackle a running player, so a little common sense has to come into play.

In your example, providing the tackle wasn't dangerous it would be allowed, otherwise the game would be unplayable.  Dangerous might involve no arms in the tackle.

I think we all know what the law means?  You cannot tackle a player who is jumping for a ball, or who has been lifted for the ball and has not returned to the ground.  That player is in a vulnerable position and safety dictates we must protect them.

Good question though John.
The Rugby Ref

Thursday 8 March 2018

New ruck law

Hello, according to the new ruck law... after a tackle, if the tackler gets on their feet (of course from his side too) and then stands over the ball... is a ruck formed ?... or the ruck will be formed always by a 3rd arriving player ?
Diego S. Cicero
Hi Diego

First of all this New Ruck Law is only a trial at the moment, however the simple answer to your question is 'Yes" a ruck is formed.

Here is the wording from the World Rugby Global Law Trials (GLTs)
Law 16: Amended Ruck Law
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 line is created. A player 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.
Guidance Notes:The “one man” ruck only applies after a tackle and that normal ruck law applies to all other situations e.g. player voluntarily going to ground, ball on ground in open play etc. The offside line is formed when a player from either team arrive over the ball.
 So for this new one player ruck first we have to have a tackle, it doesn't apply to a single player going to ground to gather a loose ball for example.  If this player is the tackler and he legally enters (or re-enters) the tackle zone to stand over the ball then a one man ruck is formed.  It might help to think of it as a tackle zone with offside lines.  (Remember that this was brought in to counteract the negative play from Italy of standing around the tackle area to stifle play.)  This player may play the ball providing he does so immediately.  As soon as an opposition player arrives no hands can be used.

It doesn't necessarily look like a conventional ruck (which is why it might help to think of it as a tackle with offside lines), but the ruck laws apply.

Great question Diego
The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Player leaving the field of play.

Gloucester first try against Newcastle in the Premiership on Saturday 3 March 2018
The Gloucester player received a pass near the touch line run’s forward then grubber kick’s the ball forward he then goes off the pitch but carries on running about a metre off the pitch for about 10 metre’s going pass Newcastle player’s he then come’s back on the pitch collect’s his kick and score’s a try.
Can you pleas tell me why he was allowed to do this as he had gone off the pitch?
Michael Foxcroft

Hi Michael

The Rugby Ref saw this incident, it was a great bit of individual skill.  There is no law that says a player cannot temporarily leave the field of play, or re-enter it, so this action was perfectly legal.  The Rugby Ref has listed a couple of laws to demonstrate this:

Law 21 (In-goal) specifically allows a player outside the field of play to take part in the game.  That player can even score a try while off the field of play.
Law 21 10. If a player is in touch or touch-in-goal, they can make a touch down or score a try by grounding the ball in in-goal provided they are not holding the ball.
Law 18 (Touch, Quick Throw and Lineout) also states how a player in touch can play the ball without making it dead, so play continues.
Law 182. The ball is not in touch or touch-in-goal if:b. A player jumps, from within or outside the playing area, and catches the ball, and then lands in the playing area, regardless of whether the ball reached the plane oftouch.c. A player, who is in touch, kicks or knocks the ball, but does not hold it, provided ithas not reached the plane of touch.
Thanks for the question.
The Rugby Ref

Thursday 22 February 2018

The Rugby selected amongst the Top 30 UK Rugby Blogs

The Rugby Ref has been selected as one of the Top 30 UK Rugby Blogs on the web.

This is the most comprehensive list of Top 30 UK Rugby Blogs on the internet and The Rugby Ref is honored to be on the list.

These blogs are ranked based on following criteria

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Feedspot’s editorial team and expert review

Monday 5 February 2018

Scrumhalf leaves the scrum?

Hi ref,
I have some questions about scrum half leaving the scrum.
1. Can the scrum half of team winning the ball move far away before the end of the scrum? (If he keeps behind the hindmost foot of the scrum)
2. For U19, we know the ball cannot be held under the no.8. If question 1 is positive, should I award a FK to defensive team since the leaving scrum half normally follows the ball being held under the no.8?
3. If 1 is positive, can defensive scrum half follow the offensive half once the offensive one move away toward the left side?
Hi there, thanks for the questions. In general the offside line for scrum halves is the ball; or they retire to the back foot on their side of the scrum and may then traverse across the pitch (but not in front of the back foot); or they retire back to at least 5m behind the back foot and remain there until the scrum is over.

To answer your questions specifically:
1. Yes he can.
2. The Rugby Ref would advise shouting "use it" and encouraging the No 8 to pick up the ball and play it. A Free Kick in this instance should be a last resort.  If this were to happen and they didn't use it The Rugby Ref would advise the teams of their obligations at the next scrum.  Remember to look for ways "not" to blow the whistle.
3. Yes, both scrum halves can traverse the pitch as long as they stay behind their respective back foot.

Law 19 (2018 numbering)
28. Prior to the start of play in the scrum, the scrum-half of the team not throwing in the ball stands:
a. On that team’s side of the middle line next to the opposing scrum-half, or
b. At least five metres behind the hindmost foot of their team’s last player in thescrum and remains there until the completion of the scrum.
29. Once play in the scrum begins, the scrum-half of the team in possession has at least one foot level with or behind the ball.
30. Once play in the scrum begins, the scrum-half of the team not in possession:
a. Takes up a position with both feet behind the ball and close to the scrum or
b. Permanently retires to a point on the offside line either at that team’s hindmostfoot, or
c. Permanently retires at least five metres behind the hindmost foot.

The Rugby Ref

Friday 26 January 2018

Ruck confusions

I am seeing an increase in the amount of players from attacking sides joining a ruck, going over the ball and then putting their hands on the ground. This is to my mind sealing off and should always be pinged, as is the case with a defending player with hands on the ground past the ball. Also the joining of a ruck seems to be very biased against defending players while attacking players are given a lot more leeway in where they join from, how far past the ruck they clear out and often clearing without even touching a team mate let alone binding first. While I applaud running rugby, I feel the fairness of contest is being undermined in the pursuit of a preconceived type of game.

You don't say what level of rugby you are watching, but I suspect this is TV rugby you are referring to, so The Rugby Ref has to start by saying that TV rugby is a different beast from grass roots rugby that most people play and watch on a Saturday afternoon.  Despite their being one law book for all, rugby at the top levels is refereed differently for a variety of reason.  The players are stronger and faster; the TV people who pay for this are looking for entertainment and thus put referees under pressure to keep the game flowing.  There is a whole separate debate to be had on this subject that is outside the scope of this blog.

So looking at grass roots rugby...players putting hands on the floor past the ball is indeed sealing off, or bridging, and will be penalised if it has a material effect on the breakdown.  If the attacking team is not competing at the breakdown then it may not be material, although the referee has to be careful that the sealing off may be the reason they are not competing.  This is covered in law as the player being off his feet and is frequently dealt with.  If the player goes from hands past the ball to scooping up the ball he will generally be penalised.

Are attackers given more leeway?  Positive rugby is to be applauded and rewarded, but only if it is legal.  Players must join from their own side and alongside a player from their team.  Depending on the size of the breakdown area this "could" give a lot of leeway.  If a player clears out past the ruck area they are then offside and must reload back to their own side, however if the ball is already on it's way out this may not be material.

You are correct that there must be a fair contest, materiality may come into play, but this doesn't mean offences can be ignored.  Generally the referee will talk to players at downtime and say that "this time it didn't affect play, but if you continue it may be penalised".  The laws of rugby are not meant to be black and white, they are grey and open to interpretation by the referee who will use his experience to keep the game flowing.  However this should not be done to the detriment of the contest. 

Referees are only human and sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes they interpret it differently, although they try to avoid that through training and discussion as Society level.  The core values of rugby reflect this and players will accept what the referee decides even if they disagree, this is what separates rugby from soccer and long may it continue.

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 23 January 2018

Line Outs

In a couple of recent games my sons team have been thwarted in the lineout on their throw.
The opposition put 2 men up front and middle before the ball is thrown and keep them there until the ball is thrown, this obviously makes it very difficult for our thrower and we only have a front and back ball option. I think this is illegal but because he plays in France and my French is very limited I cannot  get my point across. I must add that this is an u18 league with a properly appointed referee.
Kind regards
Hi Norman

This sounds illegal to The Rugby Ref because players can't jump or be lifted until after the ball has left the hands of the thrower.

Looking at the new 2018 Law Book:
Law 18
20. Players must not jump or be lifted or supported before the ball has left the hands of the player throwing in. Sanction: Free-kick.
So if the opposition are held in the air waiting for the ball to be thrown it is a Free Kick offence.  The Free Kick to be taken 15m in from the touchline.  This applies to both teams.  The Rugby Ref would expect the thrower not to throw while these players are in the air, but to wait for them to come back to ground first.

The Rugby Ref doubts very much if there is some local regulation in France to negate this law.

Thanks for the question
The Rugby Ref

Monday 8 January 2018

Uncontested Scrums

We all think we know what an uncontested scrum is. Primarily no pushing when the ball is put in. Yesterday during the game the referee had to order uncontested scrums. But during the rest of the game both No 8s picked up the ball at the base and carried the ball.
Is this allowed for uncontested scrums? When I looked at Law 3, not much information is given as to what constitutes an uncontested scrum.
Hi Steve

When scrums go uncontested there is no pushing allowed, and the putting in side must win the ball.
ALL other scrum laws still apply.

So there is no restriction on the No 8 picking up the ball in accordance with Law 20.10(c)
20.10 ENDING THE SCRUM(c) Hindmost player unbinds. The hindmost player in a scrum is the player whose feet are nearest the team’s own goal line. If the hindmost player unbinds from the scrum with the ball at that player’s feet and picks up the ball , the scrum ends.
The Rugby Ref