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Duty Ref 525 - Stuart Berry

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Stuart Berry has not been refereeing lately as rugby is almost completely stopped for South Africans - some wish it had been fully completely stopped!

The questions - an international trio - include reference to a question in Duty Ref 524. For convenience we have repeated it below.

1. Name: Jose Saha Crespo

Dear sirs, I have a question related to the Scrum. Law 20.3 binding in the scrum. Any prop in binding must "not grip the chest, arm, sleeve or collar of the opposition tight or loose head prop. The loose or tight head prop must not exert any downward pressure". The sanction is penalty kick. As a referee, when the ball is in the scrum and a Prop does any of the above - Do I have to wait for the scrum to collapse to call the penalty, ? - If I do call the penalty base on seeing the prop exercising pressure downward or any of the other offenses sited above (incorrect griping), and without the scrum collapsing is it a "pre-crime call, and as such, an incorrect call?. -Is it considered that griping wrongly and exercising pressure downward, can affect in the development of the scrum in an unfairly way, and therefore be motive of penalisation even without the scrum collapsing?. -Even before the ball goes in the scrum, during the scrum and until the ball comes out, if a prop does any of the above, without collapsing the scrum, is it punishable?, of course having in count the advantage laws. -How is it dealt with this situation?? I hope not being an inconvenience with my question. Thank you very much in advance. Best regards. Jose Saha. Madrid, Spain.

Stuart Berry: Hi Jose, thanks for your query. This is exactly what we call the art of refereeing. An offence isn’t yet an offence until the actual scrum collapses, pops or boars in, so in this case if you set the scrum and you see illegal binding, first point of call would be to manage and communicate around it, if the scrum still stays up, then ensure that at the next scrum you address that issue direct with the prop at hand. A key question when assessing the scrum is whether a prop got any dominance illegally. If the answer is yes, then an offence has taken place and you should act on it.

2. Name: Peter Shortell

Stuart Berry´s answer to Mike Jones provoked further thoughts. My understanding is that at a penalty kick, the non-offending side can choose to pause play so as to get a returning player back on the pitch e.g. they might want to take a scrum, with the player concerned being vital for that. If they do, then the offending side can do the same. However, if a team wants to play on quickly, the offending side cannot demand the right to delay play so as to get their player back on.

Stuart Berry: Hi Peter….yes very much so, and this is where the referee needs to call it live. If a team want to tap and go quickly, then even though it is a break in play, that should be allowed within law and for the sake of ensuring a quick open game. When it is clear that no quick tap is likely, then referee can call time off and allow the substitute/replacement to take effect.

3. Name: Shane Kennedy

The Duty Ref column and clips from play have really helped my refereeing over the years. I think that there may have been a mistake in Duty Ref 524, October 20, 2016. Stuart Berry said, "I can confirm that you can process a substitution at a penalty kick, the only dispensation is that the player coming on can´t then take a kick for goals." However, in 2007, World Rugby gave a clarification of Law 3, answering the following question in the affirmative: "A penalty kick is awarded to White team. Before the kick is taken, can White team make a substitution? (If so, we assume that the substitute can take the penalty kick.) "

Stuart Berry: Hi Shane, thanks for your query. The dispensation 2 2007 is the accurate one at the moment, meaning a substitute and/or replacement can take place at a PK.

Duty Ref 524 Question and answer.

Name: Mike Jones

Question: A penalty is given by a referee. Before the kick is taken or the option of a scrum taken, the non-offending side want to bring back a suspended player. (The suspension time has clearly passed so is not an issue.) Many, if not most referees, seem to apply Law 3.13 (b) and refuse the non-offending side the ability to return their player because they regard the ball as not ‘dead’. However, Clarification 2-2007 in the circumstances given above clearly says that the ball is ‘dead’ and that the player can return. What is the relationship between 3.13 (b) and 2-2007, and which takes precedence? They both can’t be right!

Stuart Berry: Hi Mike, good question. It was the same as a normal substitution were we used to say that it can’t take place at a penalty kick. I can confirm that you can process a substitution at a penalty kick, the only dispensation is that the player coming on can't then take a kick for goals.

Stuart Berry: Hi Mike, thanks for querying and picking this up. The clarification 2 2007 is the most up to date one and valid in terms of current practice, so a substitute and/or replacement can take place at a PK.

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