2014 World Rugby Clarifications in Law

Clarification 1 2014

Law 12 – Knock-onLaw 12, definition states, “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 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.” The law does not explicitly cover scenarios where the ball is knocked-out of the grasp of a ball carrier.We refer to ruling 4 of 2011 and believe the answer could come from this ruling.

Concern is expressed that this type of play may affect the game going forward as the “tackle” will be down played and the slapping, knocking the ball out of the ball carrier’s grasp will prevail.

However, for the sake of clarity and consistency of ruling by referees worldwide, in the following scenarios has a knock-on occurred?

  1. A ball carrier from team red runs with the ball in the direction of team blue goal line, a defender/tackler from team blue attempts to tackle from behind and makes contact with his hand on the ball. This action caused the ball to be lost “forward” from the ball carrier. The last contact on the ball was that of the defender before it went forward. Is this a knock on by player red or a play on as the blue tackler knocked the ball back – similar to a rip, ruling 4 of 2011?
  1. Same scenario as above but the defender/tackler does not make contact with the ball but his action causes the ball carrier from team Blue to loose possession of the ball and it travels forward. Please confirm that this is knock-on.
Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
If a player in tackling an opponent makes contact with the ball and the ball goes forward from the ball carriers hands, that is a knock on.If a player rips the ball or deliberately knocks the ball from an opponent’s hands and the ball goes forward from the ball carrier’s hands, that is not a knock on.

Clarification 2 2014

(clarification 3 reinforces that clarification 2 applies to both 7s and 15s forms for the game)

Law 9.B.1 9 (e) – Taking a conversion kick

  1. Who can or should inform the referee of the team’s decision to opt to take the conversion or not? Can anyone or must it be the captain, try scorer or conversion taker? Or any of the foregoing, bearing in mind that one of the foregoing individuals may be some distance from the referee and be inaudible?
  2. Are there any specific words or signal that must be used to indicate to the referee of the team’s decision as to whether they will take the conversion or restart play?
  3. In relation to the timing restriction on when a team can opt not to take the conversion and to instead restart play, what happens if there is a delay in the referee ruling that a try has been scored (i.e. if he is behind the player or the TMO is consulted) which results in the clock going past 0.00?
  4. Lastly, if the team chooses not to take the conversion do they have to be set to take the restart before the clock reaches 0.00 and the hooter sounds? Or do the same principles apply regarding other restarts of play such as the lineout whereby the ball may go out of play before the clock reaches 0.00 and the lineout must still take place regardless of whether it has formed or not before 0.00?
Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
A try is not scored until awarded by the Referee. The decision not to take the conversion must be relayed by the try scorer to the referee, by saying “No Kick” after the award of the try and before the time reaches 00.00. In the event of the Referee utilizing the TMO then the clock will be stopped.Once the decision is made to forfeit the conversion the referee will award a kick off. The kick off will take place regardless of whether players were ready at 00.00 or not.

Clarification 4 2014

Law 15.5 and Law 16.3
The RFU requested clarification on two items of Law in the context of both the Sevens and Fifteens game:

  1. Tackled player shifting body position before release
  2. Ruck clear outs using “head rolls” or “body rolls”
Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
For the avoidance of doubt there is only one set of Laws. The interpretations set out below stand for both the Sevens and Fifteens game:In terms of the tackled player shifting body position before release, Law 15.5 (a) and 15.5 (e) should be considered:(a) A tackled player must not lie on, over, or near the ball to prevent opponents from gaining possession of it, and must try to make the ball available immediately so that play can continue.

(e) If opposition players who are on their feet attempt to play the ball, the tackled player must release the ball.

In terms of ruck clearouts using “head rolls” and “body rolls”, this is not specifically referenced in Law. However, Law 10.4 (e) regarding dangerous play and misconduct should be applied to both the tackle and clear out:

“Dangerous tackling. A player must not tackle an opponent early, late or dangerously. A player must not tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. A tackle around the neck or head is dangerous play. Sanction: Penalty kick”

Therefore body rolls are permissible but head rolls should be penalised.

Clarification 6 2014

Law 13 – Kick Off and Restarts
The HKRFU requested a clarification relating to Law 13. Drop out must cross the line.

Scenario

Team A have a 22 metre drop out. The ball does not cross the line and lands in the field of play before going into touch, some 8 metres from the 22 metre drop out took place.

What advantage may apply? Can the non-offending team choose to have a lineout where the ball went into touch, the option of a scrum or a kick to be retaken?

Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
Law 13.13 (a) applies.“If the ball does not cross the 22m line the opposing team has two choices:

  • To have another drop out, or
  • To have a scrum at the centre of the 22m line. They throw in the ball.”

Advantage only applies if the opponents play the ball before it goes into touch.

Clarification 7 2014

The Federação Portuguesa de Rugby seeks clarification on the interpretation of Laws 20.9 (b) and (c).ScenarioTeam A are awarded a scrum. After winning the ball in the ensuing scrum, the hindmost player in that scrum grasps the ball with his feet or ankles and, whilst still bound to the scrum, bunny hops forwards with the ball still caught between his feet/ankles.

Is this action legal?

Law 20.9 Scrum – General Restrictions

“b) All players: Handling in the scrum. Players must not handle the ball in the scrum or pick it up with their legs.
c) All players: Other restrictions on winning the ball. Players must not try to win the ball in the scrum by using any part of their body except their foot or lower leg.
d) …”

Law 20.9 (b) appears to determine the action (“bunny hopping with the ball caught at the player’s feet”) illegal and liable to penalty. However, doubt arises as to whether “legs” mentioned in the sentence includes the feet. On the other hand, Law 20.9 (c) specifically mentions feet, so this would appear to tender the action legal.

Could you please clarify as there are diverse interpretations on this action across various countries and there appears to be ambiguity in the Laws of the Game?

Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
The action of “bunny hopping” as described is not permissible. Law 20.9 (b) states that: All players: Handling in the scrum. Players must not handle the ball in the scrum or pick it up with their legs. Sanction: Penalty kick.”There is no ambiguity in this Law. Law 20.9 (c) refers to winning the ball whereas 20.9 (b) relates to play after the ball has been won.

Clarification 8 2014

The Federação Portuguesa de Rugby seeks clarification on the following scenario relating to the Laws of the Game, concerning the Seven-a-side game in which there appears to be some confusion or ambiguity.ScenarioTeam A are awarded a 22 drop-out. The kick is correctly executed and the ball enters the opposing team’s in-goal area without having touched or been touched by a player in the process. A defending player picks up the ball within this area and touches down, making the ball dead.

What should the referee’s decision be?

Law 13 Definitions state:

“The kick-off occurs at the start of each half of the match and at the beginning of each period of extra time. Restart kicks occur after a score or a touchdown.”

Law 13.10 Definitions state:

“Drop-out: A drop-out is a drop kick taken by the defending team. The drop-out may be taken anywhere on or behind the 22-metre line. A drop-out is used to restart play after an attacking player has put or taken the ball into the in-goal, without infringement, and a defending player has made the ball dead there or it has gone into touch-in­ goal or on or over the dead ball line.”

Law 13.15 Drop-out goes into the opponent’s in-goal states:

“a) If the ball is kicked into the opponent’s in-goal without having touched or been touched by a player, the opposing team has three choices:

  • to ground the ball,
  • or to make it dead,
  • or to play on.

b) If the opposing team grounds the ball, or makes it dead, or if the ball becomes dead by going into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, they have two choices:

  • to have a scrum formed at the centre of the 22-metre line from where the kick was taken and they throw in the ball, or
  • to have the other team drop-out again.

c) If they opt to ground the ball or make it dead, they must do so without delay. Any other action with the ball by a defending player means the player has elected to play on.”

Further to this, the Seven-a-side Variations state:

The Laws of the Game apply to the seven-a-side game, subject to the following variations.

The variations presented for Law 13 end at Law 13.9. In the fifteen-a-side game, that Law refers to (Kick-off) ball goes into the in-goal. Thus, if no variations are presented for the incidents surrounding the drop-out, the “normal” Laws should be applied.

Hence, our understanding is that in the seven-a-side game, in the event of a 22 drop-out travelling into the opposing team’s in-goal area without touching or having been touched by a player in the process and a defending player grounds the ball without any delay, the referee’s decision should be to apply Law 13.15. (option between a scrum on the 22 where the kick was taken or ask to repeat the drop-out).

In other words, the Free Kick sanction applied in the seven-a-side game for infringements surrounding the kick-off does not apply to the restart kick (“22 drop-out”). Similarly, this would apply to a drop-out being incorrectly taken (Law 13.12), not crossing the 22-metre line (Law 13.13) or kicked directly into touch (13.14).

Is this interpretation correct?

Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
This interpretation is correct. For drop-outs normal 15 a-side sanctions apply.Law 13.15: Drop-out goes into the opponents in-goal“(b) If the opposing team grounds the ball, or makes it dead, or if the ball becomes dead by going into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, they have two choices:

  •  To have a scrum formed at the centre of the 22-metre line from where the kick was taken and they throw in the ball, or
  • To have the other team drop-out again”

Clarification 9 2014

The Federação Portuguesa de Rugby seeks clarification on the following situation.Law 13.10 Drop-out Definitions:“A drop-out is used to restart play after an attacking player has put or taken the ball into the in-goal, without infringement, and a defending player has made the ball dead there or it has gone into touch-in­ goal or on or over the dead ball line.”

21.4 Penalty and free kick options and requirements:

“c) No delay. If a kicker indicates to the referee the intention to kick a penalty kick at goal, the kick must be taken within one minute from the time the player indicates the intention to kick at goal. The intention to kick is signaled by the arrival of the kicking tee or sand, or when the player makes a mark on the ground. The player must complete the kick within one minute even if the ball rolls over and has to be placed again. If the one minute is exceeded, the kick is disallowed, a scrum is ordered at the place of the mark and the opponents throw in the ball. For any other type of kick, the kick must be taken without undue delay.”

21.6 Scoring from a free kick:

“a) A goal cannot be scored from a free kick.
b) The team awarded a free kick cannot score a dropped goal until after the ball next becomes dead, or until an opponent has played or touched it, or has tackled the ball carrier. This restriction applies also to a scrum or lineout taken instead of a free kick.”

22.7 Restarting after a touch down:

“a) When an attacking player sends or carries the ball into the opponent’s in-goal and it becomes dead there, either because a defender grounded it or because it went into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, a drop-out is awarded.”

22.8 Ball kicked dead through in-goal:

“If a team kicks the ball through their opponents’ in-goal into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, except by an unsuccessful kick at goal or attempted dropped goal, the defending team has two choices:

  • To have a drop-out, or
  • To have a scrum at the place where the ball was kicked and they throw in.”

Scenario

Team A is awarded a free kick. They opt for a scrum and win the ball. The ball is quickly passed to their fly half who drop kicks it through the posts and above the cross bar and the ball then becomes dead.

As we can see, Law 21.6 determines that the attempted drop goal is not valid, however no mention is made to how play should restart.

Should the referee restart play by:

a) awarding only a scrum at the place of the attempted drop goal? This decision appears to be valid according to Law 21.4 (c).
b) awarding only a 22 drop-out? This decision appears to be valid according to Law 13.10 Definitions, paragraph two and Law 22.7(a).

Law 22.8 appears to deny giving an option to the opposing team in either a scrum at the place of the attempted dropped goal or a 22 drop-out.

Due to the above-mentioned doubts within the Laws of the Game, we seek clarity on whether the attempted dropped goal following a free kick is considered to be:

i) an unsuccessful kick at goal/ unsuccessful dropped goal, in which case Laws 13.10 and 22.7(a) should apply?
or ii) a free kick incorrectly executed, in which case Law 21.4 should be applied?

Further to this:
iii) In the case the ball does not become dead after the attempted dropped goal, should advantage be applied?

Could you please clarify as the Laws of the Game do not clearly state how to restart play after the attempted dropped goal has been taken?

Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
The illegal drop kick as described should be treated similar to a punt in general play, i.e. play continues. If the ball becomes dead from the kick then Law 22.8 should apply.Law 22.8: Ball kicked dead through in-goalIf a team kicks the ball through their opponents’ in-goal into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, except by an unsuccessful kick at goal or attempted dropped goal, the defending team has two choices:

  • To have a drop-out, or
  • To have a scrum at the place where the ball was kicked and they throw in.

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