Clip 1 - 12 July 2017 - Law 14

On the ground - out of the game.

After Greig Tonks of Scotland kicked a penalty goal, Bernard Foley of Australia kicks off. Ned Hanigan (6) if Australia and Greig Tonks (15) jump for the ball, Tonks catches the ball just ahead of Hanigan. They clash in the air and both go to ground. Tonks loses his hold on the ball. Lying on the ground, Tonks foots the ball back to his side. The referee penalises Tonks, saying: "If you're on the ground, you're out of the game."

Law 14 deals with "ball on the Ground - No tackle". Which is the case here.

We quote the relevant parts of the law in full.

This situation occurs when the ball is available on the ground and a player goes to ground to gather the ball, except immediately after a scrum or a ruck.
It also occurs when a player is on the ground in possession of the ball and has not been tackled.
The Game is to be played by players who are on their feet. A player must not make the ball unplayable by falling down. Unplayable means that the ball is not immediately available to either team so that play may continue.
A player who makes the ball unplayable, or who obstructs the opposing team by falling down, is negating the purpose and Spirit of the Game and must be penalised.

A player who is not tackled, but who goes to ground while holding the ball, or a player who goes to ground and gathers the ball, must act immediately.

Law 14.1 Players on the ground
(a) A player with the ball must immediately do one of three things:
Get up with the ball
Pass the ball
Release the ball.
Sanction: Penalty kick

(b) A player who passes or releases the ball must also get up or move away from it at once.
Sanction: Penalty kick

(c) A player without the ball must not lie on, over, or near the ball to prevent opponents getting possession of it.
Sanction: Penalty kick

(d) A player on the ground must not tackle or attempt to tackle an opponent.
Sanction: Penalty kick

There is nothing there which embraces the referees "on the ground, out of the game" verdict. At no time is Tonks holding the ball while on the ground. At no time does Tonks render the ball unplayable. In fact he makes it eminently playable by footing it free of the scramble for the ball. Tonks did not lie on, over or near the ball to prevent Australians from getting the ball. While lying on the ground, Tonks did not attempt to tackle and Australian.

It would seem that the referee could have let play go on, which may have been a scrum to Australia for a knock-on. advert