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Duty Ref 529 - Jaco Peyper

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Jaco Peyper has been chosen as one of three referees to referee the Tests between the All Blacks and the Lions, a huge honour and affirmation of his high position amongst the top referees of the world. And here he is answering readers' questions.

1. Name: Callie Coetzee


Good day,

In Clip 7 - 6 March 2017 - Law 10 (, the referee awards a yellow card against the Brumbies player. Can you please explain the law concerning when a player is jumping to catch the ball?

I don't understand why the Brumbies player was yellow carded? Both players had an equal right to contest for the ball. The Brumbies player did not put the Crusaders player in the air. He did that himself. I would say that the Brumbies player had the right to catch the ball in the position where he was without jumping for the ball.

The Crusader player prevented the Brumbies player from exercising his right to catch the ball. Why don't we penalise the Crusader player for jumping on top of the Brumbies player who is in the process of positioning himself to catch an up-and-under?

I don't understand why the safety of the player who is jumping for the ball is completely on the other player who in this incident had as much right to not jump and wait for the arriving ball?

Kind regards, Callie.

Jaco Peyper: Hi Callie – good question, one of those where the theoretical guidelines (read best practice as agreed by Coaches and Referees at top tier Test level) is not that easy to put in practice.


At the point of contact, players are in a realistic position to compete for the ball. This includes a genuine attempt to compete for the ball, not just being in that position.

Practically we get scenarios of ‘Receivers' and ‘Chasers' when the ball is kicked onto a defending player (usually one of the back three) who is waiting under the ball where it is going to alight and therefore the kicking team are the ‘chasers' who would have a duty of care ensuring the safety of the player who has claimed the space under the ball, and, if the chaser jumps into that space, he needs to comply with the fair-challenge guidelines.

In your example, the ball is kicked into open space (neutral space) and both the kicking and the defending team run forward into that space. And no one gets there clearly first to claim the space and rights of the ‘receiver'.

They actually get there more or less simultaneously and are both ‘chasers' without any extra rights and should just be in a realistic position to contest the ball without infringing any law, which supports your concept of where the Brumbies' left wing was, and he didn't create the danger to Crusaders fullback by mistiming his jump.

Hope it answers your question and helps you understand that in that scenario the referee's judgment of the elements of the picture unfolding didn't align with yours - but the guideline is pretty solid.

2. Name: Sethu Gada

Question: Team A get a penalty and kick for goal with that penalty. In kicking that penalty the ball touches the assistant referee under the crossbar and a team A player is the first player to get to the ball. Is it a try or what?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Sethu – I had to grab the law book to confirm my view. Law 6.A.11 deals with incidents where the ball touches any ‘Non-Player' in the in-goal. “The referee judges what would have happened next if the ball wasn't touched and awards a try or a touch down (defenders) at the place where the ball was touched.”

So assuming the assistant was in goal

i. if the try would have been scored if it didn't touch him anyway = award try

ii. if the try would not have been scored in 2 above = touch down = 22m drop out.

3. Name: Ron Whytock

Question: I am not an "expert". About eight years ago I wrote to the Duty Ref to ask for clarity on putting the ball into the scrum straight. It is not necessary for me to say that about 98% of the time the ball is put right under the feet of the pack of whoever is putting in the ball, with no attempt to even vaguely put it in straight so that both packs might have a chance to win it.

Therefore, why bother with a scrum if it is so blatantly uncompetitive?

I was told in the reply I received that there are about 72 laws pertaining just to the scrum to help safeguard players, and quite rightly so. It was pointed out to me that this prevents the ref from monitoring everything that is going on, including a skew ball put-in.

A straight put-in is critical to fair play. The other pack have practised their scrumming technique for years, only for the ball to be put in deliberately grossly skew, giving them a very small chance of winning it.

So the rules have not been changed because I have noted on a very few occasions (very few) that the referee has blown the scrumhalf for "not putting the ball in straight". At least that is what it looked like to me. If that is the case can someone please explain to me why this happens?

Thank you very much for your time in answering this.

Jaco Peyper: Hi Ron,

Great to see your passion re: scrum feeds and the fair play principle.

Law 20.6 applicable here to the feed and how the ball's major axis must be parallel to the touchline and over the middle line of the scrum.

Interesting notes re the law:

i. So after the hit, the attacking team may have a slight ‘right shoulder' offset – which is excellent play. So the scrum may be slightly offset with the touch-line already at this point and if you roll the ball in at 90 degrees to the touchline as per law, it is definitely not straight in the scrum that is offset and rolling towards the attacking hooker. That is the way the correct shoulder is really important for the teams.

ii. The ball must be over the middle line where the shoulders meet in scrum. Not centre. So hypothetically, if the ball is 30cm in width, you only need a tangible part of the ball, for argument's sake, 5cm over the middle line. Now this allows for the ball to be put in closer to the attacking team's side +- 25cm of it is closer in theory but once thrown it should roll in a 90-degree angle to the touchline as the only Law requirement.

iii. Further to ii. above some of the teams have worked out (that within Law) that if they actually stand on the opponents' side of the middle line of scrum, they can create an angle where at start 5cm of the right-hand side of the ball is over the middle line and roll it across the middle line of the scrum at an angle towards attacking hooker by the time they strike or scrum over the ball, the left 5cm edge is now over the middle line and the angle it rolls at merely impossible for opponents to hook that far across the middle and leaves them to scrummaging for it. Only requirement - that the ball is square with touchline!

iv. So straight in the scrum as per law is not as simple as down the middle line of the scrum as most folk believe, and that ione1 of the reasons why the law is currently being trialed with deviations to actually bring it in line with practical dimensions/dynamics of the scrum that have changed immensely over the last few years and the concept of fair play.

The concept of FAIR PLAY has been work-shopped, too, by the top-end coaches and administrators of the game too and it is clear in philosophy that it should not be interpreted as EQUAL CHANCE or EQUAL CHANCE. As team A has infringed the laws, therefore Team B now put the ball in the scrum to restart play because of Team A's mistake.

Bearing this in mind, the scrum coaches tell us that for a hooker to go and strike for the ball when the opposition has 16 feet on ground and doesn't have to hinge/turn at the hips to strike whilst Team B who hasn't infringed now is under unfair requirements to keep the ball by rolling it straight down the middle and risk a penalty because they were forced to put the ball into scrum by opposition's error. So what equals FAIR PLAY here is one of the considerations in the new law trials.

And after all of this… I still agree that some feeds are not FAIR and Ridiculous in how deliberately it is put in under the locks – we should be able to referee those!

Hope the read gave you some more context when you think about the scrum feeds.

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