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Law discussion: Vermeulen and his electronic comms

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In the second half of the matches between Wales and South Africa, there is a hold-up for injury. Medics and water-bearers were on the field. As usual, they are equipped with communication devices. Duane Vermeulen, the South African No.8, is shown using the communication device of Aled Walters, South Africa's fitness coach, a Welshman by the way, who is on the field.

By Paul Dobson, Moonsport

It was assumed that he was talking to his coach, Rassie Erasmus. This caused discussion - about using it at all and what Vermeulen's status in the team was, for Siya Kolisi was the captain.

First, the law.

Law 4 deals with Players' Clothing, not a law often discussed.

Law 4.5 A player may not wear:
h. Communication devices.
The referee has the power to decide at any time that part of a player’s clothing is dangerous or illegal. In this case, the referee must order the player to remove the item. The player must not take part in the match until the item is removed or rendered harmless.

Law 4.6 If, at an inspection before the match, a match official tells a player that an item banned under this law is being worn and the player is subsequently found to be wearing that item on the playing area, that player is sent off for misconduct. Sanction: Penalty.

wear, not use. Vermeulen was not wearing the communication device; he used it.

The referee did not speak to Vermeulen about it at all, let alone telling him not to wear it.

Timeline

30 minutes: Gareth Anscombe kicks at goal. The ball strikes the uptight and rebounds into the field of play. Vermeulen jumps up and catches it. Jonathan Davies tackles Vermeulen and the commentator that Vermeulen got back up slowly.

61 minutes: While two South Africans are being attended to, Vermeulen has a conversation on Wales's device.

64 minutes: Francois Louw replaces Vermeulen.

Injury to Vermeulen's shoulder is well recorded and he can handle popping it back, but the question coach Rassie Erasmus wanted answered, was "Can you last 80 minutes?"

Vermeulen's answer was No, and so he was replaced.

It's not good to rush to judgement.

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