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.