Thursday 5 December 2019

Offside at a Quick Throw In?

Law 10.9 A player who is offside at a ruck, maul, scrum or lineout remains offside, even after the ruck, maul, scrum or lineout has ended.
Does this apply to a QTI?
Law 10 is the offside law.

Technically Quick Throw ins (QTI) fall under the same law as Lineouts...Law 18, so you could say yes.  But we usually say that offside lines disappear when the ball goes dead, so you could say no?

Sometimes as a referee you just have to think about what the law makers were trying to achieve, combined with the principles and spirit of the game.

So we have to look at the purpose of the offside law, which is to create space and allow free flowing rugby rather than a static slogfest.  When the ball goes into touch the purpose of a QTI is to get the game going quickly.  There are specific laws that stop the opposition preventing a QTI by standing in the 5m channel, again to allow quick free flowing rugby.

Essentially if a player is in an offside position when the ball goes into touch (in front of a kick which bounces into touch for instance) he shouldn't benefit from being offside.  So if he inhibits the QTI (but is outside the 5m channel) the referee could penalise him for being in an offside position prior to the ball going into touch.

If the QTI is taken and that team carry the ball 5m, or pass or kick the ball then the offside player would be put onside, so let's play on.

The last scenario is that a QTI is taken and the receiver is immediately tackled (before he can pass or run) by a player who was in an offside position when the ball went into touch.  In that case he should be penalised for being offside prior to the QTI because he is shutting down space and not playing within the spirit of the law. 

Otherwise we could have the scenario where a player is offside after a breakdown way up the field in the opposition half, but instead of getting onside he just stays there (not interfering with play) until the opposition have put him onside by passing and running the ball, allowing him to then benefit by being in their defense.  Clearly that would be ridiculous.

Great question, difficult to answer.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

In Goal warm up equipment

At the weekend there was a point in the game at Northampton when a player had been warming up in the in goal area.
There was a tackle bag in in-goal 5 cones and over 10 strips (old ladder sprint warm up kit)  If the ball had hit any of these what would the referee have done. Does it matter whether attack or defence had left it there?
Cannot find anything in the laws that cater for this.
Also in the match from a kick off the ball went long and was going straight out. The attacker leapt and with one hand batted the ball back in play. It went forward. He had made no attempt to catch it and had very little chance of doing so. In this current climate of deliberate knock on being so harsh on poorly judged attempted interceptions. Would you (general refereeing) consider this a deliberate knock on?
Do you think this should be relaxed again to be just deliberate blocking of a pass, should this include deliberate blocking of a pass even if the ball does not go forward?
I am so glad I have found a site that might help with my knowledge of the game.
Many Thanks
Graham Sutton
Hi Graham

A couple of good questions there.

Equipment in-goal.  Really this shouldn't be allowed.  Players warming up in-goal are fine as they have to warm up somewhere and in-goal is usually the only place available at that level.  But equipment should be banned from in-goal during the game.

You are correct in the law being silent on this situation.  The closest example is Law 6.12
12. If the ball is touched by the referee or other non-player in in-goal, the referee judges
what would have happened next and awards a try or a touch down at the place where
the contact took place.
In your example the ball touches equipment not a player, so strictly by the letter of the law we would play on unless there is a danger to players from the equipment.  In that case a stoppage for any other reason would come into play, which would result in a scrum to the team going forward, which would usually be the attacking team.

Regarding your second question, it would be very harsh to giver a deliberate knock on under those circumstances.  The player is trying to keep the ball in play (positive play) and is probably unaware, once in the air, of exactly which direction he is facing.

The deliberate blocking of a pass versus a genuine attempt at an interception is very much up to the referee to decide.  There are so many variables that sometimes we just have to accept the referees decision based on his knowledge of the game and empathy with the players.  Blocking a pass without knocking it on will always be allowed, otherwise interceptions would cease to exist, in The Rugby Referees opinion. 

Having said all that guidelines are released from time to time on how referees should judge what is a deliberate knock on.  This is to try and gain consistency in refereeing.

Glad you like the site
The Rugby Ref

Monday 18 November 2019

Player running with the ball is about to be tackled...

Is a player going forward with the ball allowed to go to the ground to avoid being tackled by an opponent?
Hi and thanks for the question.  There is no law that prevents a player from voluntarily going to ground with the ball.  However once he has done so he is out of the game and must immediately do one of three things.
Law 13
The game is played only by players who are on their feet.
1. Players, who go to ground to gather the ball or who go to ground with the ball, must immediately:
a. Get up with the ball; or
b. Play (but not kick) the ball; or
c. Release the ball.
Sanction: Penalty. 
2. Once the ball is played or released, players on the ground must immediately either move away from the ball or get up.
Sanction: Penalty.
3. A player on the ground without the ball is out of the game and must:
a. Allow opponents who are not on the ground to play or gain possession of the ball.
b. Not play the ball.
c. Not tackle or attempt to tackle an opponent.
Sanction: Penalty.

The Rugby Ref

Tuesday 1 October 2019

Keeping the ball out of touch

During the Wales v Australia game when the Australian number 10 kicked the ball for touch a Welsh player jumped from the touchline out of play to knock the ball back in field before his feet touched the ground. Haven’t the rules changed so that as soon as the ball has crossed over the touchline the ball is deemed to be in touch and can’t be knocked back in (as opposed to previous law)
Hi David

Thanks for the question, it's a good one.  You are correct that the law changed, but the part you are thinking of is when a player catches the ball while stood on the ground, then the plane of touch is relevant as to who has taken the ball into touch.

For the incident in questions we have to look at Law 18.2.C
18.2 The ball is not in touch or touch-in-goal if :
c. A player jumps from the playing area and knocks (or catches and releases) the ball
back into the playing area, before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, regardless of
whether the ball reached the plane of touch.
So the Assistant Referee on the touchline (I think it was Nigel Owens) got it absolutely correct.

Thanks for highlighting it
The Rugby Ref

Monday 23 September 2019

Player clothing - Padded shorts

I see that law 4.5f f. Shorts with padding sewn into them, can't be worn.
Does this include the lycra type under shorts or just to the typical cotton over shorts?
I have noticed several players in the opening games of the WC wearing what appear to be thigh/hip padding in their lycra under shirts. French No 6 for example.
I appreciate some 2nd rows tape padding to the tops of their thighs.

Hi Rob

You are quite correct.
5. A player may not wear:
f. Shorts with padding sewn into them.
Shorts are defined as being worn 'over' underwear, the "lycra type under shorts" you mention are defined as underwear.  So strictly speaking what you have described is legal.  It would however need to satisfy Regulation 12 on players clothing.

4. Banned items of clothing
Other than the items of clothing set out at 1(a)-(f), 2 and 3 above, a player must not wear any item of which any part is thicker than 5mm when uncompressed or is denser than 60 kilograms per cubic metre unless specified within this Regulation 12/Law 4. Where this overall thickness consists of padded material covered by fabric, 5mm is the maximum measured thickness for the combination of the uncompressed padding and the fabric. The fabric can contribute up to a maximum measured thickness of 1mm on each side of the padding.
This standard concerns manufacturers and testers of Rugby players’ clothing and should be read in conjunction with the current version of the World Rugby’s LAW 4 concerning players’ dress and Regulation 12. Particular attention is drawn to Regulation 12, Clause 4 above.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 9 September 2019


A fellow referee asked me this today, wasn’t 100% sure of the answer, though I thought it was limited only by the length of the pitch.
How many times can you march players back for dissent?
Jim Hawkins

Hi Jim

The law states that a second infringement can be marched back 10m, but doesn't mention a third or fourth infringement.  In theory you could keep marching them back, but this would be poor management.  You could also issue a yellow card for a subsequent infringement.

The Rugby Ref would suggest though that at this point you could call time off, speak to the Captains about your decision and allow everyone to calm down.  If players are annoyed about something it serves no good to wind them up further by constantly marching them back.  Instead deal with and diffuse the situation.

Remember also that if you do have to march a team back 10m you can march slowly (to allow people to calm down) explaining your decision as you go.

This is all about good management.

The Rugby Ref

Thursday 29 August 2019

Kick Off Not 10

At the start of the second half in yesterday's Bledisloe Cup match, the ABs tried a short kick.  It hit the ground short of the 10m line and was promptly snaffled by an Australian - still short of the 10m line.  Unfortunately he knocked on.
Jaco Peyper explained that when the ball hit the ground first, it had not reached the 10m line, so that was the first infringement and he offered Australia the options.
My understanding is that the sanction only applies if the fact that the ball fails to reach the 10m line is the fault of the kicking team.  The law does not specify that the ball must reach the 10m line while in the air. 
It is well established that the opponents can play the ball before it reaches the 10m line and Peyper's explanation implies that the referee is playing advantage if the opponents gather the ball after a short bounce and play continues.
Was Peyper wrong?

The law states:
Law 12
6. The ball must reach the 10-metre line. Sanction: The non-kicking team has the optionof the kick being retaken or a scrum.
7. If the ball reaches the 10-metre line but is then blown back or if an opponent plays theball before it reaches the 10-metre line, play continues.
 So the Australian player 'played' the ball.
Played: The ball is played when it is intentionally touched by a player
 So play continues, if the Australian then knocks it would be a scrum.  The Rugby Ref has never seen a precedent for playing advantage because the ball didn't go 10m.  By playing the ball the Australian has accepted the kick off; what happens after that is up to him.

Was Peyper wrong?  Let's just say his interpretation was different to the accepted norm'?

Thanks for a good observation
The Rugby Ref

Sunday 11 August 2019

Jumping into contact

Hey Rugby Ref
I'm a newly qualified ref in 2019.
I am watching the SA v Argentina game on Saturday 10 Aug evening, in the first few mins an SA player jumps into contact, refere Poite awards a penalty to SA for Argentina player tackling player in the air.  Why wasn't the SA player penalised for dangerous play...
Why was their no offence for jumping into contact, as this seems open to abuse to draw a penalty,  if a player is about to be tackled he/she can jump or lift feet off the ground.
Interested to hear your thoughts.

Hi Rob
Good question.The law does say that you cannot tackle a player who is off the ground.
Law 917. A player must not tackle, charge, pull, push or grasp an opponent whose feet are off the ground.
However we have to consider that a player running with the ball has his feet off the ground most of the time.  In addition a player should not be able to avoid a tackle by jumping at the last moment so that he cannot be tackled.

The general principle that most referees apply is that if a player as to jump to intercept a catch or a kicked ball, he should be allowed to return to the ground before being tackled.  This is a simple safety issue.

There is no specific offence of jumping into a tackle (maybe there should be), but there is a catch all offence of reckless play that puts the player or other players into danger.
Law 911. Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others.
 If a player jumps into a tackle and leads with his boot or knee, that would be dangerous.

At the end of the day its a judgement call and sometimes referees will get it wrong.

Thanks for the question
The Rugby Ref

Scrum put in...

Why do referees allow scrum halves to put the ball into their own  second rows now
when the law says he has to put the ball in straight.
You can even see from the angle the scrum half stands at that this is exactly what he is
going to do.
If referees are not going to enforce the law what is the point of having a scrum when
you could just have a play the ball as in rugby league?
Hi Don

Most referees would agree with you on this.  Most referees officiate at grass roots rugby where the straight put in is enforced.  Don't confuse TV showbiz rugby with proper rugby as played every Saturday and Sunday by thousands of players.  TV rugby is under pressure to keep the game going and minimise stoppages. 

The Rugby Ref

Monday 29 July 2019

Position of thrower's feet at a lineout

In the 2017 laws, the only requirement in Law 19.6 is "The player must not step into the field of play when the ball is thrown".  However Law 6.B.5 (d) Exception 1 says: "When the player throwing in puts any part of either foot in the field of play the touch judge or assistant referee keeps the flag up."
This was never enforced - all throwers stand with feet crossing the line.
I was therefore pleased to see that in 2018, Law 18.22 says: "The player throwing in the ball stands on the mark of touch with both feet outside the field of play . The player may not step into the field of play until the ball has been thrown." 
Standing with a foot  on the touchline means the foot (and player) is out of play.  Excellent!  Unfortunately Law 6.26 c. still  says: "When the ball is thrown in, the assistant referee or touch judge lowers the flag, with the following exceptions:
i. when the player throwing in puts any part of either foot in the field of play."
Personally I shall continue to regard "both feet on the touchline" as legal even if the toes do overlap it.
Peter Shortell
Gloucester & District Referees Society

Thanks for raising this Peter. 

The Rugby Ref is in full agreement.  Feet on the line being ok would seem to be a pragmatic position to take.  There are bigger fish to fry and more important battles to fight than stopping play for this.

Thursday 28 March 2019

About the replacement for 7s

Hi Ref,
From Law 3.6
We know the replacement is allowed only when the ball is dead.
There is a variation for WR rugby 7s- running sub. which I understand well.
But is there any variation for 7s that the replacement can be allowed for the team who possesses the ball when a penalty is awarded?

Hello Bly

 The 7's law variations do not mention rolling replacements, they only cover how many replacements are allowed.  If there are no variations then we revert to the main laws.  Alternatively competition regulations may be in place to cover this.

RFU regulations on rolling replacements state that they cannot happen at a penalty kick, the purpose of this is to stop the defending team announcing a replacement in order to slow down the attacking team from taking a quick penalty.  Other competition and Union regulations may take precedence on this.

So Bly, the answer to your question is 'maybe'.

The Rugby Ref

Monday 14 January 2019

Laws of the Game 2019

The Laws of the Game 2019 are now available to download from the World Rugby website.


Best post match meal this year.

The changing room this weekend had everything you need apart from some heating, however lovely hot showers made up for that 9/10

The post match meal was delicious.  A home made burger with lettuce, tomato, cheese and a selection of relish, some triple cooked chips, lovely pint of Doombar 10/10

Total score 19/20, well done that club.

Friday 4 January 2019

Referees changing rooms update

The Rugby Ref visited a few clubs over the holiday period.

This changing room has improved since the last visit.  You used to step out of the shower straight in front of a window, that had a wonderful view of the bar!  This window has now been replaced with a frosted glass version, so the score goes up to 10/10.  Well done.

Unfortunately the post match meal took a nose dive with a dry unappetising stew that The Rugby Ref didn't even eat.

This second changing room had everything you need including a mirror, a drink and a chocolate bar.  Another 10/10 for the festive period.

Once again let down by the meal though.  A very basic overcooked pasta and sauce.

The last club The Rugby Ref visited was on the coldest day of the season so far.  The changing room given to the referee was a disabled toilet/shower.  Nothing wrong with that, apart from the fact that it was filthy dirty with mud all over the floor.  The door didn't close properly and the door handle was missing.  There was no heating whatsoever and after the game there was no hot water.  The Rugby Ref was so cold after the game, that with no heating and no shower he took the very unusual decision not to even stay for the meal, but to just get into his car and drive home with the heater on full blast.  0/10 is being generous.