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

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