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Duty Ref 522 - Craig Joubert

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Back from Rio and the Olympics, Craig Joubert is heading for Newlands for Friday's Currie Cup match.

Joubert enjoyed thoroughly the whole Olympic experience, not just the Sevens where he was one of the five South African referees. The others were Rasta Rasivhenge, who refereed the men's final, Aimee Barrett, Ben Crouse and Marius van der Westhuizen.

Back home with his family he is taking time out to answer readers' questions.

1. Name: Bunny Bolton

Question: I watched the schools on television yesterday and am a little puzzled.

France set a maul (The referee called Maul), drove forward, making ground at first. The South African Schools forwards stopped them and pushed them back. The maul collapsed. The talkative referee said: "Down by Blue. Blue's gone to ground." The French were called Blue. They got the ball back and play went on.

Does this mean that it is legal if the ball-carrying team collapses the maul, but not legal if it is the team opposing the ball-carrying team. In other words, if South Africa had collapsed the maul, it would have even a penalty but France were entitled to play on.

I did not think that collapsing a maul was one-sided.

Craig Joubert: Hi Bunny,

Very astute observation….. and you are entirely correct. No player may collapse a maul. I guess the referee was attempting to explain that he did not deem the defending team (South Africa) to have collapsed the maul and was therefore playing on. Perhaps he should reconsider his words to ensure he is more correct in law with what he says.


2. Name: Laurence Carswell

Question: I think a lot of the time refs blow for knock-ons which aren't and do so to stop the crowd from working their case. I watched a fullback waiting to catch the ball. His arms were wide apart and the ball went through them and onto the ground. the ref awarded a scrum for a knock-on even though it was extremely doubtful if the ball touched the player's hands or arms?

Is this because the referee lacks guts?

Craig Joubert: Hi Laurence,

Correct observation although your final sentence is unnecessary. A knock on needs to come from the hands or arms. If the ball only hits a player's chest then it should be play on. In real time I can tell you that very often it looks for all the world as if the player has actually touched the ball with his hands or arms. We're not perfect and are liable for human error from time to time.


3. Name: Danie Silverman

Question: In my day, thank goodness, referees didn't talk. They refereed and shut up unless they wanted to send you off. Now they talk and talk. Many times it seems like coaching.

Why do they do it?


Play on. Why do they say this. From tiny you were told to play till the whistle went. What happens to them if they don't play on?

Tackle only: We can all see it was a tackle. What's this supposed to tell players?

Ball out: Is this to tell the defending team to steal the ball? Isn't that coaching? Mind you, what's over and what's not over is confusing.

Line-out over: They tell this to big blokes in top teams who should know their laws. Why?

Stop, 6: to tell the 6 that he's offside chasing a kick. But surely he must know himself if he's ahead of the kicker.

There are more examples. But it is hardly a surprise that players don't hear referees because they jabber so much.

Craig Joubert: Hi Danie,

Certainly your point is well made and there is a case for the fact that referees sometimes over-communicate. But the art of refereeing is also to communicate effectively with the players and to facilitate a spectacle that is enjoyable to play and watch. The best facilitators are also effective communicators and, done efficiently, good communication from the referee can aid and contribute to an enjoyable game of rugby which is kinda the point?


4. Name: Danie Silverman

Question: Doesn't matter if the game is untidy - if players are in front of the kicker at kick-offs and drop-outs, if players are in front of the kicker at penalties, if players kick penalties over the mark, if the thrower puts a foot into the field in throwing? That sort of thing.

I long for the day when a referee lets a cheat kick at poles when he rolls the ball forward behind the referee's back to get a better place nearer the poles. Then when he has kicked the referee blows his whistle and gives a scrum for kicking from the wrong place.

Craig Joubert: Hi again Danie,

Not sure I entirely agree with you. The days of being a “gotcha” referee are well gone. Being good enough to sometimes prevent an infringement in what is a dynamic environment is a key skill to refereeing. The game is not always black and white and sometimes the players need direction from the referee which contributes to the spectacle.


5. Name: Pat Topp

Question: Often we read about refs getting together before a competition and discussing how to referee. We also read how referees prepare for a match by studying the teams he is to referee on the Saturday. Doesn't this cause prejudice?

Craig Joubert: Hi Pat,

Our referee get-togethers are so important for us as a group to discuss law application and to ensure that we are pulling in the same direction to be as consistent as we can be. These camps are not about studying teams but looking at clips as a group and formulating a consistent team approach as to how we need to referee.
Of course we then do specific match preparation. Again this is not about studying individuals but about how the teams play. Each team has their own unique identity and it’s important for referees to understand what the teams bring to the game in terms of their gameplan. In a professional environment it’s not ok to simply rock up on a Saturday with no appreciation or understanding of the teams we are refereeing.


6. Name: Hannes Sinclair

Question: Please tell me what are the criteria for judging

a. a forward pass
b. a straight throw into a line-out
c. a straight feed into a scrum

Craig Joubert: Hannes, here are my criteria on each of your requests:

a. A forward pass occurs when a player throws or passes the ball forward, i.e. if the arms of the player passing the ball move towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.
b. The ball must be thrown between the inside shoulders of the competing players.
c. The ball must touch the middle line when thrown in to the scrum

7. Name: Jaco van Rooyen

Question: If you tackle an opponent and you both fall to the ground and you are behind the player you tackled, are you allowed to stand up and play the ball with your hands or must you first go round behind the tackled player?

Craig Joubert: Hi Jaco,

As the tackler you are entitled to get up and play the ball from any direction PROVIDED you do so prior to a ruck being formed.


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