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Duty Ref 533 - Jaco & Jaco

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Jaco Peyper's and Jaco van den Heever van Heerden, two legal men, are in Argentina on Super Rugby duty. They are happily answering readers' questions on the laws of the game. Peyper did the writing, Van Heerden the checking.

1. Name: Willem Scott

Question: In the Lions vs Jaguares, about 46 min, in, the Lions scrumhalf tackles high and takes the player into touch. Should the penalty be given on the 5m or 15m from touch?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Willem - if I am not mistaken… you are a very good and eager referee at Free State society for last few years (Scotty!)

I do not have the video footage available in Argentina, but if the transgression takes place inside the field with the ball still in play – the mark of the penalty kick is at the place of infringement, even though they might end up outside the field.

It is different though when ball is out of play (player in touch) and then the infringement takes place – the penalty kick mark is 15m in as play would have restarted with a Line Out but for the infringement.

2. Name: Willem Scot
Question: In the Bulls vs Cheetahs match, 70 min in, at a line-out Orange do not throw in straight. The ball is thrown over the line-out, The Bulls gather the ball and the referee calls them back for not straight. Shouldn't it be play on?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Willem.

I remember the clip you are talking about 71.20 – the ball was not straight and ‘overthrown’ and as the Bulls player tried to collect it, it bumbled away from him and the Cheetahs actually got possession. So fair enough to call not straight no advantage and set a scrum, Bulls to feed.

3. Name: Ruan Lemmer

Question: What is the ruling at the tackle?
A tackle is made but there is no ruck. A team-mate of the tackled player gets to the tackle. The tackler gets up and plays the ball (No Ruck). We were told to ref it beaten by arriving player. Now we are being told it is wrong.

Jaco Peyper: Hi Ruan

Very good question and law that is not easy to ref as this picture unfolds rapidly and you have to make a quick assessment.

i. You are spot on the tackle phase that doesn't develop into a Ruck without physical contact between an Attacker and Defender (both on their feet) over the ball.

ii. Then technically the tackler (only the Tackler!) can get up and play from any side without using the ‘gate ’set for all other arriving players. Law 15.4.(c)

iii. BUT there is a proviso… he must do so immediately Law 15.4 (b) (and obviously before a ruck has formed as you have already mentioned). Now to ensure consistency referees and coaches at the top level decided to interpret immediately as the 1st action / very next action in tackle- meaning that if there is an attacking arriving player in over the breakdown before tackler gets up and onto ball, then the tackler is beaten and not immediately exercising his option and should retire and use gate, even though ruck not formed. It does get interesting when the tackler gets up and the arriver arrives simultaneously - as then depending what the ref sees from his position, but if tackler is clearly strong on feet and attacking the ball he would probably allow the contest.

iv. WHY … because the smart players like Brussouw / McCaw/Pocock, to name a few, realised that, if they stay down long enough on the ground and allow the arriving player to step over them, they have a free go at ball after that as the designated cleaner is already past them and they can easily slow down ball. So it’s for the better of the game of quick ball and consistency amongst referees that we do not have a variety of interpretations

4. Name: Markus Seele

Question: Hi. Blue kicks-off from the halfway line. Red jumps up to make the catch and, while in the air, Blue dangerously tackles the player without making an effort to catch the ball. However, after the incident Red takes the law into his own hands and lashes out at Blue, making contact with his face. Can I give both players a yellow card (Blue for dangerous tackle and Red for punch) and reverse the original penalty for tackling in the air so that Blue now has the penalty? Is that correct?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Markus,

Once you have separated the teams and slowed it down you can now deal with each incident on it’s merits:

a. Dangerous tackle / challenge in the air: The guidelines pretty clear if it the point of contact the challenging player is not in a realistic position to compete for the ball and then the receiver comes down dangerously… SANCTION guidelines:

i. Land on legs/not through 90 = penalty kick,
ii. to horizontal and land on upper body /back = yellow card
iii. through horizontal or land on neck/head = red card
iv. However you have the discretion to upscale the decision on the game context and if the danger created by situation justifies stronger action

b. Reaction by Red player: clearly the Red player cant take the law into his own hands and react unacceptably. I do feel that we need to understand that players will react on instinct when they were challenged very dangerously and sometimes the reaction is within reason. However if they react with a clear punch / kick / elbow we cannot accept that and have to deal with that too on its own merits. And if you see a clear punch yellow card and turn around penalty kick.

(** I am a fan of leaving no incentive for provocation and dealing a little firmer with the antagonist than the retaliator when it’s appropriate or sensible to do so…)

5. Name: Morné Boshoff

Question: Being a Level 1 referee at school and club level in the Western Province, I want to know

a) how do I assure being in the best position on field for a referee? 1.5-2 meters away from the ruck or maul?

Jaco Peyper: there is no set position that will guarantee success at the breakdown. You have to read the risk at each breakdown and take a position up to be most effective to deal with that. (Presence in the ‘right’ place alone makes players make better decisions themselves) I can tell you though that 1.5m - 2m away is very close and is a position that you should only step into, make a difference and step out again and get wider arc to see the wider picture and more players. From too close, the detail on a specific issue will increase with the focus but you’ ll lose a lot in the bigger picture and creating space to play in. I would reckon anything closer than 5m to the breakdown would only be a in and out again. Depth is though very important to not be square on with a breakdown and only seeing the one side from a touchline angle. Much better to be on 45 degree depth angle +-5m out on the attacking side and creating a view of the breakdown on both edges+ seeing the backline defenders take up on side positions better. Your local society should have the coaching material and help you practically train this position. Most of the Super Rugby referees have some sort of variation of this position.

b) Which running lines should I follow typically?

Jaco Peyper: I think it ties in with question above, good positioning can only result if you run good lines. Most likely the best position is one where you can see the ball clearly. I find that you have to run wide enough to be able to see the immediate support players and potential defenders all in the same picture as far as possible. Its good to be more or less lateral to the ball. Then as contact is made you can race in to tackle zone to the position that you read will make the biggest difference and contribution and then exit again (as ball is won) to the next best position.

Thanks for your help.
Best wishes,

6. Name: Corné Smith

Question: What gives a player the right to play an opponent who does not have the ball under the pretext of 'cleaning out'. This happens even though the player attacked in not at the tackle and not trying to form a ruck? How far, in practice, are referees allowed to extend their tolerance of such illegal activities?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Corné,

Players in the tackle zone can be cleared out. Its defined as within 1m off the tackle. (1 m radius)

The clear out action needs to be safe and within law – in a tackle-like action with a full bind and grasp using the arms.

Many times players are clearing out players wider than the 1m and even players who are not a threat to possession, that is actually leaving the breakdown area. That should be dealt with by us referees and not allowed.

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