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Duty Ref 523 - Craig Joubert

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There is a bit of a lull in Craig Joubert's travelling and refereeing activities this week and so he has a gap to answer readers' questions.

1. Name: Mike Jones

Question:
In a recent match I was watching a player ran onto the ball at pace and knocked it into the air. The ball travelled about 20 metres and before the ball landed or touched another player the ball was caught by the player who knocked it on. So the questions are - 1. Is there a limit to how far a ball can travel before it is considered not to be a readjustment? 2. Does it matter if the ball goes over the head of the opposition before it is caught? 3. if the scenario described is legal then is it just as permissible to repeat the action a second times so that is goes forward over an opposition player for a second time. Where do you draw the line? You quite often see a player knock the ball forward several times when it is at about arm's length in an attempt to gain control. 4. If legal then what is there to stop a player deliberately knocking the ball over a player's head, making it look accidental so as to not be regarded as a forward pass to himself/herself, and then catching it. (Which I know one player actually practises!)

Thanks.

Craig Joubert: The law simply says a player must not intentionally knock the ball forward. So the referee has to judge whether the action is intentional or not. If it is deemed not to be an intentional action, then it matters not how far the ball travels as long as it is regathered before it touches the ground or another player and it would be play on. If it was intentional, then it was a penalty.

2. Name Chris Russell

Question:
On the World Rugby site, Laws section 14, (http://laws.worldrugby.org/index.php?law=14&language=ENthe) the second video illustrating the law shows a Blue player going to ground to recover the ball. A Red player grasps Blue as he tries to get up and falls on top of him. Clearly a Law 14.2 (a) offence. Would the Red player be penalised if he had simply grasped the Blue player by the shoulders and forced him back on the ground without going off his feet (and falling on him) so that Blue would then have only the options of playing the ball. The referee is heard to say something like "He has to get up first". Does that mean that a player has to let up an opponent who goes to ground for the ball.

Craig Joubert: Players on their feet have all rights to the ball (provided they haven’t been an assist tacker – that is a player involved in bringing an opponent to ground in which case they have to show a clear release of the tackled player before competing for the ball). In the case above under law 14.2(a) it is illegal to dive onto an opponent who is on the ground – dangerous play. If the arriving player stays on his feet however, then he has all rights to contest the ball and the player on the ground would need to release immediately.

3. Name Colin Sinclair

Question:
Please clarify the rule regarding straightness of throw-ins to the line-out and its application. I think that the idea should be to throw straight and equidistant between the two lines of players, but some latitude is allowed so that usually the ball travels closer to the side throwing in. However this season I have noticed with increasing frequency that the ball is being thrown directly to a player, without sanction. Are referees intending to allow line-out feeds to go the same way as scrum feeds?

Craig Joubert: The law simply says the ball must be thrown straight. In practice we deem a ball that is caught on the inside shoulder of a catcher to be straight.

4. Name: Bunny Bolton

Question: I have noticed a change in the way referees signal tries and wondered what had brought it about. I have seen a try described as rugby's greatest glory, and referees used to acknowledge the drama of it by going to the spot on the gaol-line , blow their whistle and raise their arm. It was a kind of salute. Then they helped the kicker get the right place for the conversion and then marched up to check the conversion.

Nowadays referees take a short cut, blow a whistle and walk to where the conversion is going to be taken. The spectator it initially not sure if a try has been scored or if the referee is awarding a penalty.

The acknowledgement of a try is downplayed.
I
s this a plan devised by referees?

Craig Joubert: Totally agree with you, Bunny! I was taught as a young referee that a try is the greatest moment in a game of rugby and the referee's whistle tone and signal should acknowledge this. Personally I always like to ensure that I get as close to the try-scorer as possible and acknowledge the moment that is one of rugby's great moments - the scoring of a try – with an appropriately excited whistle tone.
 

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