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breako
31-10-06, 12:10
Hi,
This may sound like a stupid question, but's an important one.
Red are playing Blues, red make an excellant line break and have a very good attack in progress. In fact they could score.
1 or 2 Reds and 1 or 2 Blues in the last ruck hang around and start fighting.
They are not having a material effect on play as their fight is 40 yards away from the ball and where the play is now, it could just be handbags, but then again player safety is paramount, and fighting has no place in Rugby.
When do you make a decision to stop play?

Simon Griffiths
31-10-06, 13:10
In my opinion, if you've got players 40 yards away fighting, it's unfortunate but you'd probably have to stop play immediately. If they were merely five yards away you could try verbally to stop, then blow the whistle if needs be - but at 40 yards there's little choice.

I seem to remember a question similar to this arising somewhere in the forums a while back where we even debated the potential for a penalty try as it stopped a probable try. However, before even considering the rights and wrongs of that, you need to know who actually 'started it' (and even then you're on dodgy ground because the other side carried it on).

Bit of a horrible/awkward decision really. But as you sat, safety is paramount. (And dangerous play is something widely considered - although it can depend who you ask - that you shouldn't play advantage for).

SimonSmith
31-10-06, 13:10
There's no straightforward answer to that one - I think it's very circumstance contingent.
Are they seriously fighting or just throwing handbags? What's the temperament of the game been?

My other thought on this is that I would never criticize the referee is he DID blow it dead to stop the fighting. That has to be the default position - you only continue play if you feel you have the appropriate circumstances to allow it. If you don't - blow it dead toute suite.

breako
31-10-06, 13:10
There's no straightforward answer to that one - I think it's very circumstance contingent.
Are they seriously fighting or just throwing handbags? What's the temperament of the game been?

My other thought on this is that I would never criticize the referee is he DID blow it dead to stop the fighting. That has to be the default position - you only continue play if you feel you have the appropriate circumstances to allow it. If you don't - blow it dead toute suite.
Some good points, same question except instead of a fight it's an injury. They appear to be in pain, and some of their team mates are shouting ref. However the other team look like they are going to score, What do you think?

Robert Burns
31-10-06, 13:10
I think if you didn't blow you may give yourself a harder time, Blue complain because no doubt at least 5 of them would have told you about the fight, as soon as the try was scored they would have been running to the fight, you also have to get there, all sorts of problems.

Loud blast and you run over and sort it, it gets dealt with by you, blue is happy attack is stopped, Red are miffed but at least hope they get the restart as both know you would not have seen who started it, providing there is no seriousness and runner-ins from afar then it's bollocking, scrum red (maybe even take it a bit closer to the try line for red, who's going to argue?)

Davet
31-10-06, 13:10
Difficult. If you play on and Red score the try, do you give it? If you do so and then find out it was the Red player who started the fight, where does that leave you? Conversely you blow up and prevent the try, and then find out it was blue who started the punch -up.

The big problem is that you will find it very difficult, on your own, to apportion blame for something which has happened 40 yards behind you, when you are up with and concentrating on play (yes, quite probably you should have been looking at the late hit/ resented tackle that started it rather than looking at the ball, but that's just a lesson for next time).

I don't think that you can continue playing with a fight going on on the park, regardless who started it, so probably best to blow up.

But what then?

If you can clearly identify the fighters then YC the lot of them, or as appropriate.

But how to restart?

I can't see any practical alternative to restarting with a scrum to the side last in possession at the place where play was when you blew up.

ExHookah
31-10-06, 13:10
You should always be able to counter any complaints by stating that you are taking care of player safety. Remind them that this is your Number 1 priority out there. Any player (or coach) that continues to complain after that is clearly an ass and not someone that can be reasoned with anyway.

Coler
31-10-06, 14:10
Had this at the weekend; lineout inside 22, ball off the top to the attack, play goes wide, I get to the tackle, about 10 foot in and 10 foot out from the goal-line, I scan back and see a row involving 6 players (4 attack and 2 defence); handbags only. Did not see it start unfortunately. Whistle, sprint back to where the lineout was, they had separated/were in the process of. No neutral TJ's. Scrum attack at the breakdown following serious talking too was, I think, my only or at least best option.

Simon Griffiths
31-10-06, 16:10
Coler, that was probably the best way to handle that situation as you didn't see the start of it.

Dave, just mentioning who started the fight - if blue, red would be miffed that they couldn't have their try - reminded me why I had difficulty with a penalty try (even if you had a society TJ saying that blue had started it). Essentially, much like a tango, it takes two to fight. So if red aren't happy that they didn't score their try, then simply point in the direction of their players that were involved and remind them whose fault it was...

Davet
31-10-06, 17:10
Noddy - agreed; though with a properly appointed TJ who says that Blue 8 got up from the tackle and punched Red 12 after the ball had gone, and if Red would have scored but for my whistle then I may well be tempted to go to a PT.

But then I don't usually (in fact ever) get appointed TJs - so its a moot point.

Dixie
31-10-06, 17:10
You should always be able to counter any complaints by stating that you are taking care of player safety.

Just to play devil's advocate for the moment here, if the players are fighting, is it really the ref's responsibility to stop it? Do we really ask a 100 pound ref to wade into a barney between two locks and the front rows of each side and break them up in the interests of their safety? What about referee's safety?

In the scenario postulated, in what way is it safer for the fighting parties 40m away if you blow the whistle before the ball can be grounded? Do we expect them to hear the whistle and stop? And if the ref is a little slow getting back to the ring, and a player has a jaw broken, is that the ref's fault?

I think would go against the flow here, carry on and allow the ball to be grounded. I wouldn't award anything at that point. I'd then go to the flashpoint, which has probably cooled down on its own by then, and try to ascertain the cause. If it hasn't cooled down, I'm no hero and I'm not wading in! Happy to blow my whistle if anyone thinks it'll help, but I'll mainly observe.

If obviously and incontrovertibly caused by the side that grounded the ball, penalty against at the flashpoint. (No advantage accrued). Probably a YC to any player I saw who wasn't originally involved and who joined in for the hell iof it. Otherwise, award a try where the ball was grounded. I don't see that a PT is appropriate, because at the time the melee started, it was 40m from the touchline. Hard to argue that a try would probably have been scored but for the offence.

Would move heaven and earth to stop anyone thinking I have some responsibility for the outcome in this situation - so I don't see why play can't carry on while punches are being thrown.

Simon Griffiths
31-10-06, 17:10
With reference to your first point Dixie - I would say yes, it is most definitely the referee's responsibility to stop a fight. And at the same time, no, a referee should not wade in. Under no circumstances should any referee or touch judge attempt to break up a fight other than through use of verbal commands and the whistle (which it has to be said tend to work remarkably well all things considered).


so I don't see why play can't carry on while punches are being thrown.
I hope that you're still acting as advocate for the devil there because that's an exceptionally dangerous stance to take, and one that could land a referee in very hot water with the RFU and possibly the courts if that laissez faire attitude may have had something to do with a serious injury caused towards the end of the fight.

OB..
31-10-06, 18:10
If a fight starts it is certainly the referee's job to try and stop it. If he doesn't things will probably escalate.

The ultra-safe course is to stop play so you can go over to the fight to try and stop that as well (without getting physically involved, even if you are bigger than them).

In reality, you use your judgement, as in so many situations. Dixie's approach might well fit both safety and equity on some occasions.