View Full Version : Not straight
How do you guys evaluate not straight at the throw? Should the ball be entirely within the 1 meter tunnel until it's caught? Or just as it passes through the 5m? How do you account for wind, especially heavy winds (we get incredible winds in the spring time, pop up tents, tables have been seen blowing across the fields like tumbleweeds)? Few teams in the area throw past 10 meters because of that. What about a throw past 15m? The ball wouldn't need to be straight after it crosses the 15, right?
This is always tough - but especially so when conditions militate against a hooker's throwing skill. Chopper, I'm sure we're going to have to agree upfront to disagree on this one:o
The tutor on my reffing course pointed out that the idea of "straight" was not defined in law. A 5mm deviation over a 12m throw is surely acceptable, but the throw is not strictly straight. Given that there is a degree of latitude to be applied, we as refs are the arbiters of that latitude. The advice given was that any ball being taken within the original 1m gap could be described as straight.
In calm conditions, I am rather more strict than that assuming both sides compete for the ball. In high winds, I ask the hooker to compensate for the wind, and try to "land" the ball so the catch is taken within the 1m channel. I am not comfortable with the idea of straight at 5m being OK, because you could get a long ball that meets that criteria being blown to the SH. If you ping that, why would you not ping one that the 5th jumper caught above his outside shoulder or his head?
If, the hooker having compensated, the ball lands outside his own side of the channel, I will likely call not-straight. If it lands beyond the opposition side, then I will likely play either advantage or materiality, depending on who caught it. Either way, it's play on.
After discussing the scrum engagement process at the front row brief I will ask the front line out players to set the gap for me when I have indicated the line of touch mark. Then I usually say I judge a ball to be straight if it is taken in the gap 'so, as we have a bit of wind today, the larger the gap the better therefore'. Incidentally I ask for the numbers in to be called to me at this point, but that's another thread.
I never stand in line with the jumper nor usually have the benefit of appointed touch judges so I rely on assessing whether the jumper collects the ball from the gap or immediately above him; if he has to reach outside the gap then it is not straight. I may give a little more latitude if it is clear the opposition are not intending to compete for the ball in the air.
It is always a judgement call but at least you apply equity here even if your assessment or tolerance of the throw is different from other referees.
Yours is the accepted RFU Referee Department guidance in effectively managing the line-out both as a contest and as a re-start to play.
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