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.
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