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  • Lyndon Bray answers RugbyRefs.com Members Questions

    A while ago during my search for prizes and items for auctions for the upcoming 10th anniversary of RugbyRefs.com I managed to make contact with former Test Match Referee, now iRB Referee Selector & Head of SANZAR Referees Lyndon Bray. (Pictured Left).

    I wasn't very sure what I could ask/beg for from Lyndon, considering that the individual unions are in charge of their referees' kit, so I asked if he would mind answering a few questions. Lyndon replied within minutes congratulating us on the significant milestone and agreeing to answer some questions.

    So then the hunt was on, I posted a thread and allowed the members to choose the top questions by way of liking the posts they thought were worthwhile. After just over a week I collated all the questions, and sent them on to Lyndon for answer.

    Considering Lyndon's place on the iRB I also thought it was a great opportunity to clear up a couple of areas of law that we believed needed more clarity and Lyndon was again happy to give his opinion.

    So, Without further ado, here are the questions that our members put to Lyndon, and of course, his answers:




    Question 1:
    We have seen in this year's edition of Super Rugby (especially in the latter half of the season), a tendency for referees to rule that the ball is "out" of a ruck when the halfback has a hand or hands on the ball. Not only has this led to some messy play around the ruck area, with defending players diving on the ball in the back of the ruck as the halfback puts his hands on the ball , it also directly conflicts with what we are taught at grass roots, that the ball is out when it is "out. i.e. lifted off the ground or clear of the hindmost foot". In my opinion this action of players diving on the ball could be construed as being an infringement of Law 16.4 (e). Has there been a directive concerning when the ball is to be regarded as out, and if so, why is it different from what referees are taught at grass roots? If there has not been a directive, then why are elite referees ruling it this way?

    LB:The Law regarding a successful end to a ruck simply states, "the ruck ends successfully when the ball leaves the ruck..." Therefore, it is a very open ended question to ask, "when do you consider the ball has successfully left the ruck?"

    Interestingly, we debated this very point a couple of times during Super Rugby 2013 and we will do so again in the build up to the 2014 competition. For me, there are two key points to this discussion:

    - the definition of the ball having successfully "left the ruck" and does this include the #9 putting his hands on the ball?
    - the timing of when a defending player can break his offside line and compete with the player at the back of the ruck & when can he do so by leaving his feet?

    Firstly, I believe the ball needs to exit the ruck past the last foot, before it is deemed that the ruck is over. The only practical issue then relates to a #9 who puts his hands on the ball and then leaves them there, on the ball, without moving the ball on. We rule that in practice, once this occurs and he has not immediately cleared the ball, he becomes "fair game" to a player who comes from an on side position and is on his feet.

    Secondly, I am a firm believer that Clarification 8 (2006) stipulates quite clearly that a player cannot "dive through over players and onto the ball, nor can he hit the arm of the #9 lifting the ball." This defender must in essence come from an onside position and compete with that player (which can include hitting his arm). The only time is becomes relevant to dive at the player removing the ball is once it has been lifted away from the confines of the ruck.

    This is a really important area for consistency that we will be debating at our next Super Rugby Camp in January. The biggest reason this is such an important area of the ruck phase at Super Rugby level (and professional rugby generally), is that the vast majority of rucks at this level are both very shallow (often only involving a minimum of players) and have started and ended very quickly. This makes the interpretation of what is acceptable and what is unacceptable around the clearance of the ball all the more important.


    Question 2:
    If you had the power to change one rugby law - what would it be and why?

    LB: The Law which I would focus on next is the tackle and ruck Laws in symmetry. I would be wanting to try to ensure we worked to a principle of "same law for all players" wherever possible (for example, why should the tackler have different rights to all other players arriving at the tackle - including the tackler assist). These variations make the tackle law confusing for players, spectators and referees alike.

    I would get all the Tier One Head Coaches, some top referees & some top players in a room and work shop how we can enhance the tackle and ruck laws to meet with our mantra: "that the game is easy to play, referee and understand." I would seek to clarify the way in which the game has evolved at these phases of the game and change the law to suit the way in which it has evolved.

    This law covers more events than all the other laws put together! We need to ensure that the players and referees can play the tackle and ruck laws with confidence and clarity and that as a result it becomes easier and more logical for spectators to watch and understand.

    The speed with which we now have a player on his feet, over the ball carrier, has put real pressure on the ball carrier and pressure on the effectiveness of the clean out by the ball carrying team. It also puts the referee under pressure to determine how legal the defender is (ie, is he on his feet / has he beaten the ruck?). The big question for the theoretical work shop is: is the Law keeping up with the playing of the game in this critical area?


    Question 3:
    Lyndon, Embedded in the Law 14 Definitions is the sentence
    “The Game is to be played by players who are on their feet.”

    However the previous sentence is
    “It also occurs when a player is on the ground in possession of the ball and has not been tackled.”

    Some people interpret this as allowing a player to play the ball when he is already on the ground and the ball subsequently comes to him. Others argue that Law 14 only permits two exceptions to the general principle: (1) a player who falls on a loose ball to recover possession; (2) a player who falls over when in possession of the ball eg tap tackled, or merely slipped. Which is correct?

    LB: I think the law is quite clear in this case. There are two instances whereby a player can legitimately be on the ground with the ball in his possession:

    - a player is already carrying the ball and goes to ground (tackled or falls over), or
    - a player dives onto the ball which is on the ground, in order to gain possession.

    It is clear to me that if a player is already on the ground, he cannot then "play the ball" without first getting to his feet.


    Question 4:
    The current law book has many anomalies and contradictions in it. There are also law clarifications not included in the law book. Do you believe it is time for the law book to be re-written to remove the anomalies, and to clarify which laws take precedent over others, and to include all the relevant law clarifications?

    LB: To be fair to the IRB, recently the Law was re-written to try to ensure that the laws of the game were in "plain English" and made less complicated. This is no easy task, as rugby is perhaps one of the most complex of sports when it comes to the playing of the game.

    It is possible that one could do a re-write & it is certainly possible that some of the important clarifications made to certain laws could be incorporated in the actual law itself.

    It is not a job I am putting my hand up for though!


    Question 5:
    It’s been widely acknowledged that there are differences in the style of officiating between the North and the South. What steps will you be taking to eliminate these differences (or perception of differences) and will you be advocating referee exchanges between the elite competitions?

    LB: Joel Jutge is the current IRB Referee Manager and I work with Joel and Donal Courtney (ERC Referee Manager) on international refereeing. We work on the strategy we use across world refereeing as well as the test refereeing team.

    We have been working together now for approximately 15 months. Our aim is simple:

    - have the best "Team RWC 2015",
    - in the shorter term, grow the team and grow our consistency.

    One of the major work ons for our test referees is ensuring that we are all operating to the same principles for the game, understanding what "best performance" for a test referee looks like and creating the best guiding principles across the field to ensure that we can achieve greater consistency.

    We work very hard on the critical defining of accuracy of decisions versus the relevance of decisions (this is the critical link between accuracy and empathy). Our top referees have got to be accurate in today's professional game, but that accuracy has to have strong game relevance (which requires a referee to have strong game awareness, good knowledge of current player technique and best practice and awareness of current negative tactics).

    We still have a long way to go, to ensure we all understand the points above, but the work is well on the way and it is very rewarding. We have developed a culture of learning and challenge - and this alone is an uncomfortable thing to get used to for a fairly new team! We have just under two years to get it right for RWC 2015. In January, we have a very important "Build Up to RWC" Camp in Dubai, with the 20 odd best referees in the world.


    Question 6:
    Law 19 is riddled with uncertainty when a player is in the air.
    “If a player jumps and catches the ball, both feet must land in the playing area, otherwise the ball is in touch or touch-in-goal.”

    (1) Red kicks from outside his 22. Green catches the ball before it crosses the plane of touch, but lands with a foot in touch. Who put the ball in touch, Red, or Green?
    (2) A player in touch leaps to catch a kick and lands in the field of play. Is the ball in touch because he was in touch to start with? Does it matter whether the ball had crossed the plane of touch before he caught it?
    (3) A player leaps from the field of play and taps the ball back into play after it has crossed the plane of touch. He lands in touch. Is the ball in touch or not?

    My rule of thumb is to treat a player in the air as though he was on the ground directly underneath him, though I know there has been an argument that what should count is where he lands.

    LB:
    Example 1 - Green took it out, as the ball and player was not over the plane of the touch line, when he first took possession.
    Example 2 - According to current law: no. Play on. (Needs changing!)
    Example 3 - no, play on. The key in the current law is whether he is "in touch", which requires him to have a foot on the ground.


    Editor Note: This answers our Law Clarification Request in the wiki: Law 19 Touch & Lineout

    Question 7:
    Lyndon, does the iRB recognise that there is a conflict between 20.1(j) [scrum to remain stationary and parallel until the ball leaves the scrum half's hands] and 20.5 [#9 must feed the scrum as soon as the front rows have come together]? If so, does it recognise that this conflict contributes to the issues with scrums at elite level? And if so, does it believe that the current trial of "Crouch, Bind Set" is adequate to resolve that conflict, or does it need to change the law to ensure that "stationery and parallel" takes precedence over the immediate feed?

    LB: Great question! The new scrum process means that Law 20.5 is not relevant to the process. The key 4 steps are:

    - Crouch & then Bind (with the front row "ear to ear" as best practice (this removes any issue with head to head and gets them interlocked);
    - SET call requires the front rows to come together and then remain steady & square (as possible) - this gets rid of the old "hit & chase" language and mentality;
    - the referee waits for the scrum to be stationary (steady), before he then calls "Yes 9" (instruction from referee to #9);
    - #9 then feeds the ball straight & so that his #2 has to hook the ball without delay.

    This new process has been really well supported by the international head and scrum coaches and obviously, there will be a sorting period as everyone gets used to it. The early signs around the engagement and the contest are very encouraging for the future of scrums in our game.


    Question 8:
    Law 13 carefully distinguishes kick-offs and restart kicks, but then forgets about the latter except in 13.2 and in relation to drop-outs. In practice referees assume the provisions of Law 13 apply to both but there is one problematic case: 13.4 for a restart kick - does the kicking side have to wait for their opponents to get into position?

    Law 6.A.7.(a)
    “The referee must carry a whistle and blow the whistle to indicate the beginning and end of each half of the match.”
    It is well understood that for restart kicks the referee will say "In your own time, gentlemen."

    A team that has just gone a point behind with only a few minutes remaining will be keen to restart as quickly as possible. The opponents cannot deliberately waste time, but why should the kicking team wait for them to jog back?

    LB: This law is probably a good example of where the over simplification of the writing of the law could be considered too simple? It is generally accepted in rugby that when a team scores and a restart from the halfway line is imminent, the referee ensures that such a restart is going to be orderly - this means that the kicking team is ready and onside, and that the receiving team is 10m back.

    Where a player or players from the receiving team are unfairly wasting time retiring to such a position, the referee has available the Law 10.2.b, whereby a free kick can be awarded if player(s) deliberately waste time.

    Of course, a drop out restart is totally different, whereby the defending team awarded a drop out can take it quickly.



    Question 9:
    Lyndon, what does the elite referee of the future look like? Will he/she move freely between countries/hemispheres or will he/she be primarily region based? Will they be involved at club level? Will they undertake AR duties too? Will their ability to mentor up & coming referees be important?

    What will be their key attributes and background (i.e. do ex-elite players make good referees or are the Glen Jacksons a rarity & not worth looking for)?

    LB: This is another excellent and far reaching question!

    An elite referee currently is going through some real evolution and we have got better at defining what a top, world class referee looks like.

    To start with, we have a "Big 3" Referee Profile for selection:

    - DECISION MAKING (whereby a top level referee needs to be both accurate and relevant with every decision he or she makes);
    - CHANGING BEHAVIOUR (the ability of a referee to ensure timely interventions & the outcomes of eliminating trends that impact on the game); and
    - EMPATHY (the referee's capability to understand the top level game, player technique, game trends, and the principles that help make a top game of rugby - quick ball at tackle, set piece platform for clean ball, space, contest).

    A referee at the top level has to be able to be effective in contributing his part to what our "best game of rugby" looks like. He is not responsible for the quality of the game, but she is responsible for ensuring the right standards and compliance are set and that those boundaries are maintained throughout the game.

    We have to be able to ensure the players have confidence and trust to play. We have an obligation to the spectators to ensure the game is easy to watch and understand.

    A top referee has to be physically very fit & in good health every time he steps up to referee. He needs to be emotionally intelligent and this means not only around his own maturity, but her ability to read others and respond accordingly. He needs to be the consummate professional off the field: articulate, conscientious and professional.

    Ex players are still a rarity at the top level, but more countries (and SANZAR) are in talks and searches for other ex players to join refereeing and potentially follow in Glen Jackson's footsteps. Glen has been a raving success for us and that has opened up the door for other players to consider this option. There is no doubt that these individuals can be fast tracked towards the top level, due to their excellent game knowledge and the intuition of their decision making. They still have to demonstrate the other skills I have mentioned above, which Glen has in spades. We are very hopeful that along with Rohan Hoffmann (Super Rugby referee who played professionally in Europe and played for Portugal in test rugby), that we will see more ex players enter Super Rugby within the next 3 years.



    Question 10:
    How far off until we see a female referee at elite male events (eg SupeRugby)?

    LB: Can a female referee achieve selection at Super Rugby level? One thing I have learnt in professional sport and life in general, is that one should never say never! What would stop this happening?

    The two main challenges for female referees to date, would be firstly the physical demands of the top game and whether they have the physical attributes across the physical pillar to handle the speed and continuity of the top game (no reason why not, but to date we have not secured a female referee who has been able to push on past first grade rugby, for example, to take on that challenge).

    Secondly, a female referee needs to also develop the game knowledge and capacity to read the play so that at the faster tempos of the game they do not get caught out in their decision making. Again, this is no different for male referees, and we have some male referees currently in Super Rugby who are still struggling to develop this skill to an acceptable level.

    The challenge for everyone is to be able to bring a female referee successfully through the top domestic levels of the game, so that she can be in a position to challenge for a professional selection. The Women's Sevens growth is certainly going to help this cause over the next 5 years.


    Question 11:
    What was your most interesting/embarrassing moment as a referee?

    LB: As a very young referee (perhaps slightly shy of 25) I was appointed to referee North Harbour against New South Wales (1992). This game was part of what was then known as the "Super 6" (for those with a long memory!).

    This game was the first ever match in New Zealand (and possibly the world, for all I know) that had the referee "wired up for sound" onto the Broadcast and to the commentators. The great, legendary Keith Quinn was the main commentator for the match.

    I was both young and green at such a level, and remember being in total awe of turning up and meeting the likes of Phil Kearns and Frank Bunce. To say that I was out of my depth would be a major understatement...

    The game was a tough, uncompromising affair - a late PK to NSW saw them limp ahead and hold onto the win by something like 18-16. I have to admit to running around catching up with the game for the entire 80 minutes - reactive and never in control!!!

    With 15 minutes to go, I ran to the front of the line out, stood at the front watching the players line up and sensed an individual player arrive on my right shoulder. It was the great Phil Kearns.

    He turned to me and said: "you are not here today, Lyndon, are you?"

    With a flash of honesty & immaturity, I looked at Phil with eyes which suggested I would like to be anywhere but in this spot at that precise second, and said in a very high pitched, stressed voice: "no!"

    And of course, that response went out over national television...

    The life of a referee is never easy!


    Law Clarification 1 (Knock On):
    Law 12 definitions defines a knock on:-

    A knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.
    ‘Forward’ means towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.


    1, We believe that if a player carries out a drop kick it is accepted that the ball touching the ground is not a knock on, even if it travels forward & even though it would be classed as a knock on should the player then not kick the ball. Could this please be confirmed?

    2, If a player punts the ball forward, the ball will generally have been released forward before the kick takes place. This is not to be classed as a knock on, even though it would be classed as a knock on should the player then miss the kick. Could this please be confirmed?

    Considering the above confirmations as 'Yes' we would like a clarification for:

    a) If a player accidentally loses control of the ball, and the ball travels forward, but the player manages to kick the ball forward with their foot deliberately before the ball touches the ground or any other player, is this a knock on?

    b) If a player accidentally loses control of the ball, and the ball travels forward, but the player manages to kick the ball forward with their foot accidentally before the ball touches the ground or any other player, is this a knock on?

    LB:
    a) If a player accidentally loses control of the ball, and the ball travels forward, but the player manages to kick the ball forward with their foot deliberately before the ball touches the ground or any other player, is this a knock on? YES it is a knock on.

    b) If a player accidentally loses control of the ball, and the ball travels forward, but the player manages to kick the ball forward with their foot accidentally before the ball touches the ground or any other player, is this a knock on? YES it is a knock on.


    Law Clarification 2:
    The Definitions define "Played":
    Played: the ball is played when it is touched by a player.
    The definition does not make it clear if the contact needs to be intentional or not.
    The following Laws, in relation to a player & the ball, state "played":
    • 6.A.9(a)
    • 8.3(b)
    • 10.4(o)
    • 11 Definitions
    • 13.6
    • 13.7
    • 20.7(c)
    • 22.11(a)


    The following laws, in relation to a player & the ball, state "touched":
    • 13.9(a)
    • 13.15(a)
    • 19.1(b,d,f,g,h)
    • 19.2(d,e)
    • 19.4
    • 19.6
    • 19.13
    • 19.14(a,c)
    • 20.7(c)
    • 22.7(c)


    The following laws, in relation to a player & the ball, state "played or touched/touches":
    • 9.A.1
    • 11.4(f)
    • 21.6(b)


    As "touched" is not defined in law, it is not clear if the difference between "played" & "Touched" is intention. We assume that there must be a difference because of the above laws stating "Played or Touched"

    If "played" were defined for intentional contact and "touched" for unintentional contact, it would be possible to introduce consistent use of terminology & application throughout the laws.
    End of clarification request.

    LB: Touched versus played: the definitions provide a clear definition of the ball having been played. A ball is played if it has been touched by a player. This removes any requirement for the referee to read "intent" regarding these issues. The only exception around intent is obviously around the "deliberate knock on" which becomes a PK and foul play issue.


    I would like to publicly thank Lyndon for talking time out of his immensely busy schedule, in order to answer these questions for us. I'm sure all who read it will find it very informative.

    Picture copyright of stuff.co.nz
    Comments 29 Comments
    1. Stoo48's Avatar
      Stoo48 -
      Nicely put together, some great questions and well thought out honest answers
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Excellent value. Many thanks to Robbie and Lyndon.

      I don't feel the "touched" problem has been resolved. I am happy that if a player touches the ball he has played it, but what if he is touched by the ball ie makes no effort to touch or play it?

      Question 6 (3):
      Q: A player leaps from the field of play and taps the ball back into play after it has crossed the plane of touch. He lands in touch. Is the ball in touch or not?
      A:
      no, play on. The key in the current law is whether he is "in touch", which requires him to have a foot on the ground.

      As I have said before, this directly conflicts with what I was told by the RFU sometime ago. In fact the law does not specify that a player must have a foot on the ground to be in touch, though it is possible (but not necessary) to infer that. I'll have to check with my local expert.

      It also appears to be in conflict with (2)
      Q:
      A player in touch leaps to catch a kick and lands in the field of play. Is the ball in touch because he was in touch to start with? Does it matter whether the ball had crossed the plane of touch before he caught it?
      A: According to current law: no. Play on. (Needs changing!)

      If he is not in touch until he has a foot in touch, then surely to stop being in touch he must have a foot (both feet?) back in the field if play. However this decision say that he stops being in touch as soon as he jumps. In which case he can leap in the air, bat the ball back into play and land in touch - play on.

      From the answer to Q9: "
      He is not responsible for the quality of the game, but she is responsible for [...]"
      Was anybody else startled by this sudden sex change or is it just the awkward equivalent of "he or she" as used earlier in the answer? Elsewhere he is quite happy to use "he" as a generic pronoun.

    1. RussRef's Avatar
      RussRef -
      I agree that Lyndon's answers were very helpful. I also agree that OB's confusion on 6(3) is justified: I don't understand the law reference that dictates Lyndon's comments about needing to have a foot on the ground to be in touch. In fact, I seem to recall Ozzie materials that recommend different calls depending on whether the player's airborne body is beyond the plane. Lyndon doesn't seem to care about that. Would the rest of you really have played on if a player leaps from the field of play and before landing in touch batted back into the field of play a ball that had crossed the plane?

      Also, and just out of curiosity, do you call the accidentally dropped then kicked ball (kicked accidentally or not) a knock-on? Given that the law is obscurely worded, shouldn't we emphasize continuity and play on unless the law clearly mandates us to stop play?
    1. Dixie's Avatar
      Dixie -
      Quote Originally Posted by RussRef View Post
      Also, and just out of curiosity, do you call the accidentally dropped then kicked ball (kicked accidentally or not) a knock-on? Given that the law is obscurely worded, shouldn't we emphasize continuity and play on unless the law clearly mandates us to stop play?
      Yes I do call that a knock on. Where is the ambiguity or obscurity in the mandate that you perceive?

      A knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward ....and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it. ‘Forward’ means towards the opposing team’s dead ball line.


      So the player has lost possession. The ball has gone forward. The original player is unable to catch it. In what way does that not precisely meet the definition?
    1. ddjamo's Avatar
      ddjamo -
      good stuff...thanks to all the question askers, robbie and lyndon.
    1. RussRef's Avatar
      RussRef -
      Dixie:

      I'll bite. If you take the wording of the law literally, which I think is rarely a good idea, you're led to the conclusion that any drop-kick or punt is a knock-on. That's obviously ridiculous, so the law cannot be intended to be taken literally.

      So now it becomes a question of how far, and why, you vary from the text. You could say there's an unstated condition in that law along the lines of, "except when a player purposefully releases the ball forward and successfully drop kicks or punts it ..." That's an entirely reasonable position, but it also requires the referee is required to judge intent, which is not always, but I think mostly, to be avoided where possible. Alternatively, you could broaden the implicit condition slightly to "except where a player drop kicks or punts the ball." That allows you to avoid judging intent at the precise moment the player loses possession forward (maybe not a big issue most of the time), allows the laws to reward a modest display of athleticism (connecting with the ball after a player has dropped it), is simpler and promotes continuity of play. But it does diverge from the text a little more than the other interpretation.

      Bottom line, I think this is one of those areas where the law could be clearer. I asked the question because I think it's more important to be consistent with what other referees are doing than cling to my (maybe idiosyncratic) view of things. I'd be interested in how others call this.
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      OB.., Lyndon does say that the line out law is in need if change, and alludes in the email that it may not be too far away. The answers may not be how we understood it, but we can't really complain as we now have a direction about how to referee it, from a man who selects top referees and explains laws to unions. I for one am happy that there is now clarity, the law book just needs to catch up (what's new).
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burns View Post
      OB.., Lyndon does say that the line out law is in need if change, and alludes in the email that it may not be too far away. The answers may not be how we understood it, but we can't really complain as we now have a direction about how to referee it, from a man who selects top referees and explains laws to unions. I for one am happy that there is now clarity, the law book just needs to catch up (what's new).
      My problem is that the rationale for his answers appears to be inconsistent. Moreover his answers are different from those I got from Mark Lawrence some years ago.

      It would be really nice to have the law rewritten to make consistent sense.
    1. Robert Burns's Avatar
      Robert Burns -
      Yep,

      And in the email to me he states "Line Out: see above examples and await further potential clarification from IRB of a re-write around this law." So it looks like he/they are aware of this issue.

      For all, Question 11 added, and shows the human side of refereeing!
    1. winchesterref's Avatar
      winchesterref -
      Good read. Still split on question 3 but found myself automatically penalising someone for it last match. Maybe I'm not quite as firmly in the other camp as I thought!
    1. shadowrider65's Avatar
      shadowrider65 -
      Thanks to everyone for the great insights.
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      thanks to Lyndon - I am sure he didn't expect such a long homework assignment!
    1. woody's Avatar
      woody -
      Very nice. Thanks for all the thought put into this.
    1. beckett50's Avatar
      beckett50 -
      Great value and excellent that Lyndon took the time to answer some tricky questions with clarity and honesty.
      Well done Robbie and the rest of the team
    1. tevisv's Avatar
      tevisv -
      This was awesome...thanks!
    1. Smashie's Avatar
      Smashie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Robert Burns View Post
      Yep,

      And in the email to me he states "Line Out: see above examples and await further potential clarification from IRB of a re-write around this law." So it looks like he/they are aware of this issue.

      For all, Question 11 added, and shows the human side of refereeing!
      Well if they do change the Law then maybe he can say what he said, but at the moment he is completely contradicting the definition of Law 19. See paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the Law 19 Definition. A wise man once said about the Rugby Laws, "If the Law is a problem, change it, don't bend it." Bending Laws has been a SANZAR problem over the years.
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      Quote Originally Posted by Smashie View Post
      Well if they do change the Law then maybe he can say what he said, but at the moment he is completely contradicting the definition of Law 19. See paragraphs 7, 8 and 9 of the Law 19 Definition. A wise man once said about the Rugby Laws, "If the Law is a problem, change it, don't bend it." Bending Laws has been a SANZAR problem over the years.
      Paragraph 8 is the awkward one.

      Does it matter where the player is when he catches the ball? This could affect who is deemed liable for the ball going into touch.

      What if the player knocks the ball back into play? If he is on the ground, para 9 says that is OK provide the ball has not crossed the plane of touch, and para 7 says it is OK if he is play but the ball has crossed the plane. Nowhere does it tell you if a player in the air is in touch.

      The law is unsatisfactory, which makes it impossible to apply it literally.
    1. Jolly Roger's Avatar
      Jolly Roger -
      Much appreciated. Many thanks. It is clear that all answers were very carefully considered.
    1. Ian_Cook's Avatar
      Ian_Cook -
      Quote Originally Posted by OB.. View Post
      Paragraph 8 is the awkward one.

      Does it matter where the player is when he catches the ball? This could affect who is deemed liable for the ball going into touch.

      What if the player knocks the ball back into play? If he is on the ground, para 9 says that is OK provide the ball has not crossed the plane of touch, and para 7 says it is OK if he is play but the ball has crossed the plane. Nowhere does it tell you if a player in the air is in touch.

      The law is unsatisfactory, which makes it impossible to apply it literally.
      Surely the simplest, least confusing and least ambiguous way to determine touch is to take a two pronged approach ("ball" and "ball carrier") with defined liability for each, and to leave the plane of touch completely out of the equation.

      #1 The Ball carrier
      The ball is in touch when the ball carrier touches the touchline, or the ground beyond the touchline. The ball carrier is responsible for the ball being in touch.

      #2 The Ball
      The ball is in touch when it touches the touchline, or the ground beyond the touchline, or touches anyone or anything on, or grounded beyond the touchline, other than a corner post. The last player to play the ball before it went into touch is responsible for the ball being in touch.

      Who Throws in

      The team not responsible for the ball being in touch will have the right to throw the ball in, except from a Penalty Kick, in which case the team responsible for the ball being in touch, will have the right to throw the ball in.


      These have the unique advantage that when a player jumps to bat the ball near the touchline, doesn't matter where he jumps from or to, because while he's in the air he is not grounded, so the referee or AR/TJ doesn't have to watch for that or take it into account.

      It also means that a player who jumps for the ball and holds it, then lands in touch is always going to be responsible for putting the ball into touch, so the AR/TJ doesn't have to check the timing (did he grab the ball before or after he crossed the plane). If he is holding the ball, then he's a ball carrier, and #1 applies.
    1. john g's Avatar
      john g -
      But in other areas, ie at the ko when the ball is kicked over the 10 m line and the wind blows it back, we take it that it has gone 10. Also for a goal kick. Why not use the same plane for the touch? Surely that is being consistent
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