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Duty Ref 520 - Stuart Berry

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Stuart Berry, who last month refereed a Test in Argentina and kicks off this month with a Super Rugby match in Durban, has time - as he always does - to answer readers' questions.

1. Name: Thabo Sixam

When can a referee or match official end the game ? Can a referee leave the game with less than 5 minutes to play left in the game ? Thanks

Stuart Berry: Hi Thabo. A referee is the sole judge of fact and can only call a game off early if he feels that the safety of the players or of himself are at risk. The only other time you would be happy with it happening at lower age groups is where there is clearly one team who are significantly stronger and well ahead on the scoreboard. Then it may be better to call the game earlier. Otherwise, a game should be played in accordance with the times stipulated for that age group and competition.

2. Name: Charles George

Good day to you. I have a question about the scrum feed. Law 20.5... scrumhalf must put the ball in from the side first chosen. You award the scrum and the scrumhalf chooses to feed the ball on his tighthead side, the ball goes right through the tunnel and so you order the scrum to be re-set. Can the scrumhalf now change side and feed on his loosehead side? I would think that he should stay on the side first chosen until that scrum has been completed. As an ex halfback, I cringe when scrumhalves put the ball in on their tight head side. And I have many coaches tell me hey, you are letting them put it in on the wrong side.

Stuart Berry: Hi Charles. Yes the reset scrum is a new scrum, and so no issue with the scrumhalf's wanting to change at all. It is very rarely that you find a scrumhalf putting it in on what would commonly be referred to from a coaching perspective as “the wrong side”.
3. Name: Erich van Zyl

Hi refs. I started refereeing and would like to know if any sanctions apply to the following. I've asked around but haven't got a definitive answer yet. Scenario 1: Red tackles Blue a couple feet from the touch line. Red players then drag the Blue tackled player into touch to win a line-out. Scenario 2: Red tackles Blue a few feet in front of Blue's own goal line. Red players then drag the Blue tackled player into in-goal to win a 5m scrum. My personal take on it is that if a player is tackled, the opposition can only contest the ball and not play the player on the ground. Red is then liable for a penalty kick for dangerous play. Thanks for the great content!

Stuart Berry: Hi Erich, Well done on starting refereeing and hope you enjoy it.

Scenario 1 is play on unless it is clearly dangerous, and the same as scenario 2. But I think a clear line needs to be drawn between ‘dragged’ with regards to within the motion of the tackle vs a player clearly coming in, grabbing another player and dragging him intentionally. On the latter, where it is this obvious, suggest we penalise for dangerous play.

4. Name: Pete Margesson

Dear sir, Regarding "support" persons on the field. In the third Test between South Africa and Ireland there was a break in play, I think because of an injury to an Irish player. A person appeared on the field - he was NOT carrying water bottles neither was he carrying anything to do with 'medics',( he had no bib on his body stating that he was a water carrier or a medic - he just walked around haranguing Adriaan Strauss. Fair play to Mr Strauss he kept on walking away from this person. My question is: Is there any official on the touchline who can prevent this kind of "invasion". i.e. the official who informs the referee of substitutions. I can see that if this practice continues that there will be more than the permitted allowance of 4 'attendants' on the field.

Stuart Berry: Hi Pete. The 4th and 5th official have a number of duties on the sideline, including substitutes, managing cards, managing injuries and managing people around the field (including cameramen). It’s not an easy job at all! All support staff allowed on the field should have a bib on to indicate their accreditation as doctor/physio/medic. Any other people should not be allowed onto the field.

5. Name: Barend Vorster

During the Ireland test series, I saw the Irish flankers moving forward during the scrum and hitting the Springbok props in the ribs with either their shoulders or their heads. It was most prominent during the second test. Is this legal for a flanker to leave his legal binding to this extent and shouldn't hitting a prop while he is scrumming in the ribs be illegal?

Stuart Berry: Hi Barend. Something like this usually happens when a prop is under pressure – the flank moves up to against his prop to give him more support. According to the law, this is illegal and is liable for penalty.

6. Name: Chris Russell

I have three questions regards 22.10.

i. If an attacking player with the ball is held in-goal such that he is unable to ground the ball the referee will deem him “Held up” and award an attacking 5m scrum. Should that determination be made on a basis of time or a condition of stalemate (no likely change in outcome)?

ii. If an attacking player with the ball is grasped by a defender and forced into touch-in-goal (or over the dead ball line) would he be considered “held up” under 22.10 and an attacking 5m be awarded or would the defenders get a 22 drop-out under 22.11 (b)?

iii. If the attacking team kick the ball into the defenders' goal and a defender catches it but is grasped by an attacker and is then held up 22.10 would award the subsequent scrum feed to the attackers. Is this correct or should the defenders get the feed or get a 22 drop-out (as in 22.7) as the attackers put the ball into goal?

Stuart Berry: Thanks for your submission Chris.

Question i. As soon as the ball is held up in-goal, a referee must award the scrum. Rucks/Mauls don't occur in in-goal hence our application of breakdown laws won't apply here – and hence we don't allow breakdowns to develop.

Question ii. It all depends who took the ball into in-goal. If the attack took it in, then it would be a 22m drop. If defence took it in, then a 5m scrum.

Question 111. A defensive team would get a 5m scrum in this instance as no maul can take place in in-goal. No 22m as the ball was not grounded.

7. Name: Chris Russell

Question regarding a player on the ground playing the ball At a tackle the law is clear that tackler, tackled player and all other players must get to and be on their feet before they can play the ball (Laws 15.4, 15.5 and 15.6) In general play, not at or in the immediate vicinity of a tackle, there can be circumstances where the ball comes to a player who is not on his feet. (That is: A player already on the ground for whatever reason) The question is: Can that player (not in an offside position) legally play the ball by getting to his feet, passing the ball to a teammate or releasing the ball as required by Law 14.1 (a)?

Stuart Berry: Hi Chris. Good question – an easy phrase for me is that if you off your feet, you're out of the game” applies. So in your example above, it's play on if he gets to feet before collecting the ball, and a penalty kick if he collects ball while off his feet and then gets to his feet.

8. Name: Ben Rich

Question: Hi
There I have 3 questions (they are very random but interested about the answer)

i. If you get a red card during super rugby and afterwards you get a 1 game suspension and next week is a test match are you not allowed to play. I ask this question because I see Willie got suspended by World Rugby but if suspended by SANZAAR does the same apply?

ii. I have watched games in South Africa and New Zealand. Why in New Zealand water boys run on nearly every 5 min and the 4th official does nothing but at Kings Park in Durban nearly every game they get like a warning from the 4th ref.

iii. Lastly does the TMO have a say what gets put up on the big screen during matches. Also on TV when we watch replies we don't get the sound just the live sound feed, does the TMO get any sort of sound. I ask this because when a ref refers something to the TMO how do they know when the whistle has gone if they don't get sound?

Stuart Berry: Thanks for your input Ben.

Regarding question i, that is correct. As with Willie Le Roux against Ireland, he got a one-match suspension and couldn't play in the next game for the Sharks.

Regarding the sideline management, this really does vary everywhere you go, and so all depends on the guys managing the sideline and how strict they are on that law. Key is that it is applied equally to both teams within one game.

The TMO only requests views from the producer when he is asked to look at items during an official review. Outside of that, all views for the TV production are decided upon by the producer. The stadium gets this feed for the big screen, and can choose whether to use that or interrupt it for their own adverts during the game. The TMOs get the referee's sound; they don't get any commentary or crowd noise through their booth.

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