Clip 3 - 15 February 2017 - Law 17

The five-second warning.

For a penalty against Italy, Wales kick the ball into touch for a line-out.

Ken Owens throws into the line-out and Sam Warburton catches the ball. He comes down and a maul forms on him. Italy shove the maul back. Wales then get a shove on but when it stops the referee says: "Use it - it stopped." Wales rumble on and the maul collapses as Andrea Lovotti of Italy pulls Jake Ball to ground.

The referee penalises Italy. Sergio {Parisse, Italy's captain, objects because the referee had said use it.

Law 17.6 (d) When a maul remains stationary or has stopped moving forward for more than 5 seconds, but the ball is being moved and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.
(e) When a maul has stopped moving forward it may start moving forward again providing it does so within 5 seconds. If the maul stops moving forward a second time and if the ball is being moved and the referee can see it, a reasonable time is allowed for the ball to emerge. If it does not emerge within a reasonable time, a scrum is ordered.

When Wales had the ball and Italy shoved them back, that was already worth the first warning from the referee. When it stopped moving forward a second time, the ball had to come out of the maul after a reasonable time. When it stopped, the referee did tell Wales that the ball had to come out, but he then allowed a "reasonable time" for it to emerge. In that wait, Lovotti caused the maul to collapse and the referee penalised him.

What the referee did was right. Telling a team to use the ball, does not end the maul.

And in any case, the primary reason for penalising the collapsing of the maul is player safety. As with the collapsing of a scrum, the collapsing is a dangerous act as players falling in a group have little opportunity to organise themselves against the fall.

Law 10.4 (k) Players must not intentionally collapse a scrum, ruck or maul.

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