Clip 3 - 27 February 2017 - Law 22

Is a pinkie finger enough?

From a scrum five metres from the Scottish line, France attack and centre Rémi Lamerat bursts for the line as Huw Jones of Scotland garbs him. Lamerat gets beyond Jones and stretches out to try to score the try. The ball goes to ground and then bounces away.

The prudent referee consults his assistant and then the TMO. The decision is that Lamerat lost possession of the ball and knocked it forward, and so it is a scrum to Scotland five metres from Scotland's line. The commentators do not agree with the decision.

Law 22 Definitions
When attacking players are first to ground the ball in the opponents’ in-goal, the attacking players score a try.

For Lamerat to score a try, the ball must be grounded.

Law 22.1 Grounding the ball
There are two ways a player can ground the ball:
(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required .
(b) Player presses down on the ball. A player grounds the ball when it is on the ground in the in-goal and the player presses down on it with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player’s body from waist to neck inclusive.

Look at the law. (b) is clearly not relevant. It all depends on (a).

holding. That is the important word in this case. Is Lamerat holding the ball when it comes to ground.

Certainly not, unless he has a specially prehensile pinkie.

The TMO's advice was right. The commentators were not.

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