View Full Version : Blockers

08-05-04, 11:05
Something that's been bothering me in the higher-level matches I've watched in recent weeks... it seems to be increasingly common at breakdowns for members of the ball-winning side (always forwards, and most usually front rows) to take up an off-side position as a means of protecting their scrum half. They overstep their off-side line and occupy the "neutral zone" between their line and their opponent's off-side line and very often make the "I'm blameless, sir" raised-arm gesture, sometimes kneeling, and by their very presence force opposition guard forwards and other would-be tacklers to take the long route, thereby ensuring bags of space for the ball-winning SH. In this respect, they are behaving exactly like American Football blockers. In fact this season's ZP game (a while ago now) in which Newcastle hosted Wasps had a try scored (by Wasps) because Will Green had taken up just such a position very close to the goal-line and cleared a path for the try scorer (can't remember who it was) by blocking a couple of potential tacklers - exactly like a lead block in Gridiron!

The reason this bothers me so much is because it seems to set a precedent for a dual standard. Defenders who overstep the off-side line are penalised without question, but it seems very rare for an attacker to be penalised for the same offence. I know we're supposed to reward positive play, which is often taken to mean attacking play, but to my mind this IS negative play, even though it's the attackers who are doing it. It's worse than slowing the ball down illegally and getting away with it, because if you get away with blocking, you have removed even the remotest possibility of competition for possession, which I was taught was a fundamental principal of the game.

I'd like to know what the official line (if there is one) on this is... tactics like this have a nasty habit of starting off on televised top-level matches and then seeping down to the belligerent Old Scumbags 3rd XV type of game... Is this something that needs stamping down on?

Account Deleted
10-05-04, 12:05
At last another ref who has noticed. I Thought I was alone! How can the official line say anything but PENALTY!

Unfortunatly it's tollerated because "it speeds the game up" and it favours the attacking side. But it's wrong in my book and I'll ping it!

Robert Burns
12-05-04, 22:05
yes, these 'guards' are offside, and should be penalised as such

12-05-04, 23:05
Think they are also sometimes known as "sentinels".

23-11-04, 16:11
What goes around comes around.... Wasps conceded the game-tying try to Leicester this weekend because an offside Martin Johnson cleared a path for Austin Healey.

I know Wasps have benefitted themselves from this tactic in the past, but I really wish that referees would act to quash it a bit more...

23-11-04, 17:11
I blatted an attacking sentinel two weekends ago to be told by a player "We don't referee like that at this level!" followed up by the match report in the local paper that stated "... some bizarre decisions made by the referee which were not understood by officials from either team."

I was too taken aback to react to the first comment but was rather pleased with the second. Since when do team offficials understand the law and its application anyway and as the only official interpreter on the field, why should I let them know what's going on? Nil carborundum desperandum!

Robert Burns
23-11-04, 18:11
email sent, Plod or similar should reply soon.

24-11-04, 10:11
Deeps - I think the "We don't referee like that at this level!" tells the story. Too many players believe they can decide how the game will be refereed. Too few of them actually know what they are talking about.

24-11-04, 14:11
Deeps - I think the "We don't referee like that at this level!" tells the story. Too many players believe they can decide how the game will be refereed. Too few of them actually know what they are talking about.
I agree with your general sentiment there OB, but think that there might be a deeper issue.

What level was this game? If the referees that they have been used to at that level HAVE been letting that go, there is a consistency issue with us, the referees. The players can, therefore, to an extent be excused their response.

It would be fair to say that certain offences get viewed differently according to the level of the game. Having (under the old RFU system) done levels 11 and 6 in the same season, I can say with confidence that my refereeing was different on those days. My interpretation of what might be called "scatter rucking" is very elastic!