Clip 3 - 7 November 2017 - Law 10
Australia are attacking the Barbarians well inside the Barbarians' 22. Henry Speight of Australia is tackled but the ball comes back to Joe Powell who passes to his left. The ball unexpectedly goes past Ned Hanigan of Australia on its way, perhaps, to Karmichael Hunt but it does not reach Hunt as Taqele Naiyaravoro of the Barbarians, who was heading for Hanigan, jerks up his hand and the ball strikes it. The referee penalises Naiyaravoro and shows him a yellow card, sending him to the sin bin.
The referee explains his decision: "It's offside - again. I warned you in the first half. They're on the attack. Repeated infringement for offside. Yellow card."
Law 10.3 Repeated infringements
(a) Repeatedly offending. A player must not repeatedly infringe any Law. Repeated infringement is a matter of fact. The question of whether or not the player intended to infringe is irrelevant.
Sanction: Penalty kick
A player penalised for repeated infringements must be cautioned and temporarily suspended.
(b) Repeated infringements by the team. When different players of the same team repeatedly commit the same offence, the referee must decide whether or not this amounts to repeated infringement. If it does, the referee gives a general warning to the team and if they then repeat the offence, the referee cautions and temporarily suspends the guilty player(s).
Sanction: Penalty kick
A penalty try must be awarded if the offence prevents a try that would probably otherwise have been scored.
(c) Repeated infringements: standard applied by referee. When the referee decides how many offences constitute repeated infringement, the referee must always apply a strict standard in representative and senior matches. When a player offends three times the referee must caution that player.
The referee may relax this standard in junior or minor matches, where infringements may be the result of poor knowledge of the Laws or lack of skill.
That's the law but it's not an easy situation to unravel.
In fact "repeated infringement" is not the clearest of concepts. Repeated means saying or doing something more than once. Clearly, if a flyhalf knocks on a pass from his scrumhalf for a second time, that would not fall within the scope or intention of the law. But repeatedly offside would fall within the scope of the law.
Seven minutes into the match, the referee penalises the Barbarians for being offside. He says to the Barbarians' captain: "There have been a few offsides now. We need to work harder at offside."
Is that the warning he refers to 63 minutes later?
"We need to work harder at offsides" hardly sounds like a warning though referees, it seems, prefer euphemism to saying it as it is. Things like You'll force me to escalate or I'll go to my pocket could easily be I'll send the player who infringes to the sin bin. That sounds more like a real warning in unambiguous terms.
Surely repeated over an hour later hardly qualifies. It's not as if foul play was involved.
It would seem that the sin-binning was excessive.
Another followed soon afterwards and the Barbarians were reduced to 13 men. There must be a way for the laws to avoid the spoiling of a match in this way - and obviate the booing that ended a thoroughly good game of rugby.