Law Discussion: Two TMO decisions

Sun, 01 Sep 2013 21:29
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rugby365 Law guru Paul Dobson takes a look at two TMO decisions in the Currie Cup match between the Golden Lions and Western Province.

There has been a lot of emphasis of late on the television match official and a lot of questioning of decisions. We shall look at just two in the Currie Cup match between the Golden Lions and Western Province on Friday night.

A first and obvious point is that the TMO is called to adjudicate only in difficult situations - where the referee and his two assistants are unsure. On the other hand he has time, angles and slow motion to use that the referee and his assistant do not have.

We have two to look at. Let's look first at the second one as it has elicited the most questioning and even ire.

Just before we do, let us say we are going to work off the Laws of the Game. Referees, their assistants and the TMO do not make the laws; they just administer them.

To be correct, their decisions have to be in terms of the Laws of the Game.

1. The penalty try and yellow card (see the cl;ip below):

Guy Cronje of the Golden Lions chips the ball into the Western Province 22. They gather the bouncing ball and attack. They bash at the line and then go wide right to Marnitz Boshoff, the Golden Lions' fullback who is out on the right wing. He easily gets through Cheslin Kolbe and is tackled by Nic Broom, the Western Province scrumhalf. Groom tackles Boshoff at thigh level which means that Boshoff' torso is ahead of Groom and close to the goal-line as he falls to ground. He has the ball in his right arm and is about to produce it the short distance to the line to score a try. He starts moving the ball forward but Damian De Allende (12), the Western Province centre, comes in and blocks the ball.

The referee refers the incident to the TMO, asking: "Try, no try?"

The TMO looks at the incident just twice and then tells the referee that Boshoff had indeed been short but offers the referee additional information, which the referee accepts.

The TMO says: "Number 12 from Province came in from the wrong side, dived on the player and prevented him from scoring the try."
Referee asks: "Prevented him from scoring a probable try?"
TMO: "That's correct, yes."
Referee: "So that's a penalty try?"
TMO: "Absolutely."

The referee then awards the penalty try and, showing a yellow card, sends De Allende to the sin bin.

(i) It was a tackle. Groom held Boshoff and brought him to ground in the field of play. (Law 15, definitions)
(ii) Boshoff is then allowed to reach out and score a try. (Law 15.5 (g))
(iii) De Allende then approaches to play the ball. He is required to be on his feet. (Law 15.6 (a)).
(iv) De Allende was not a tackler. He was required to approach the ball from behind the ball and behind Boshoff. (Law 15.6 (c)).
(v) Boshoff was on the ground. De Allende was not allowed to dive on him. Law 14.2 (b))

De Allende is the man penalised.

(iii) De Allende was not on his feet when he played the ball.
(iv) De Allende did not approach form behind the ball or behind Boshoff
(v) He stood accused of diving on Boshoff.

The diving on is not so convincing though he certainly dived into him.

De Allende's defence as he settles into the sin bin is that Boshoff had lost the ball forward but it seems that he lost the ball after De Allende made contact with him

Awarding a Penalty Try

(a) Intentionally Offending. A player must not intentionally infringe any Law of the Game, or play unfairly. The player who intentionally offends must be either admonished, or cautioned that a send off will result if the offence or a similar offence is committed, or sent off.
Sanction: Penalty kick
A penalty try must be awarded if the offence prevents a try that would probably otherwise have been scored. A player who prevents a try being scored through foul play must either be cautioned and temporarily suspended or sent off.

intentionally: deliberately, with intent. There was nothing accidental in what De Allende did. He did what he wanted to do without any outside agent to drive him on, and what he did was an infringement. That means he intentionally infringed., The offence prevents the probable scoring of a try.

All of that suggests that TMO and then the referee acted in accordance with the Laws of the Game.

And the yellow card?

That, too, is in accord with the laws

Foul play is anything a player does within the playing enclosure that is against the letter and spirit of the Laws of the Game. It includes obstruction, unfair play, repeated infringements, dangerous play and misconduct which is prejudicial to
the Game.

What De Allende did was unfair play which is a part of foul play. His foul play [prevented the probable scoring of a try. The law then required that he be cautioned and temporarily suspended.

Being temporarily suspended means being sent to the sin bin.

Was the TMO allowed to provide "additional information"?

Yes. The IRB's TMO protocol: 2.8 The TMO may mention issues viewed in addition to those requested by the referee if it is appropriate to the situation under review.

Clearly the TMO and the referee were technically correct in what they did.

The full text of the laws referred to is below.

2. No knock-on decision(see the cl;ip below):

After Western Province overthrow the ball in a line-out, Willie Wepener of the Golden Lions catches it and Golden Lions attack. They go wide right and then come back left on attack. Anthony Volmink of the Golden Lions charges ahead. Michael Rhodes of Western Province tackles Volmink as Pat Cilliers of Western Province Cilliers moves in towards Volmink.

The ball shoots forward ahead of Volmink and well behind Rhodes and Cilliers. CJ van der Linde of the Golden Lions foots the ball on and there is a scramble near the Western Province line. Willie Britz charges and is held back. The ball goes to Warwick Tecklenburg. He charges and is held back. Then the Golden Lions go wide right where Deon Helberg goes over for a try.

The referee refers the incident to the TMO, asking especially to see if there was a knock forward from the Golden Lions when Volmink was tackled.

The TMO makes the point that he is allowed to go back only two phases. This is in accord with the IRB's TMO:

2. Potential infringement by the team touching the ball down in opposition in-goal

2.1. If after a team in possession of the ball has touched the ball down in their opponents in goal area and any of the match officials have a view that there was a potential infringement, of any nature, before the ball was carried into in-goal by the team that touched the ball down, they may suggest that the referee refers the matter to the TMO for review.

2.2 The potential infringement must have occurred between the last restart of play (set piece, penalty/free-kick, kick-off or restart) and the touch down but not further back in play than two previous rucks and/or mauls.

but not further back in play than two previous rucks and/or mauls.

When Western Province stopped Britz, there was a ruck. When they stopped Tecklenburg, there was a ruck. That makes two rucks. The TMO is was not allowed by protocol to go back beyond the Britz ruck. That meant that he could not go back to the possible knock-on by Volmink, which we shall look at as matter of interest but not in as much as it concerned the TMO. Whether or not that was a knock-on was a decision for the referee and his two assistants.

Why should the matter have been referred to the TMO in the first place as it looked a clear case of losing the ball forward.

Law 12, Definitions. 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.

Volmink had the ball.
He lost it.
It went forward.

Surely that is a knock-on.

The reason for the referral is an IRB clarification made in 2011 in response to an Australian query.

In it the Australian ask about the ball being ripped from a player's grasp. He loses it but not of his own volition. He is robbed of it The IRB clarification, which has the force of law, states that when is ripped from the ball-carrier and it goes forward there is no infringement and play should go on. In other words it is not a knock-on.

If you look at what happens here with care, you will see Rhodes's right arm, his tackling arm, wrapping itself around Volmink's upper arm. It does not touch the ball. Rhodes is certainly not ripping or attempting to rip the ball.

Cilliers moves his left arm forward to grasp Volmink. It is certainly not an action intended to rip the ball. The ball does touch Cilliers's hand but only after it leaves Volmink's grasp.

This would seem to be an error in not awarding a scrum to Western Province for a knock-on.

But it was not a TMO error as there was no knock-on after the Britz charge which resulted in a ruck.

Laws Referred To

A tackle occurs when the ball-carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground.

(g) If a player is tackled near the goal line, that player may immediately reach out and ground the ball on or over the goal line to score a try or make a touch down.

(a) After a tackle, all other players must be on their feet when they play the ball. Players are on their feet if no other part of their body is supported by the ground or players on the ground.
Sanction: Penalty kick
(c) Players in opposition to the ball-carrier who remain on their feet who bring the ball-carrier to ground so that the player is tackled must release the ball and the ball-carrier. Those players may then play the ball providing they are on their feet and do so from behind the ball and from directly behind the tackled player or a tackler closest to those players’ goal line.
Sanction: Penalty kick

(a) Falling over the player on the ground with the ball. A player must not intentionally fall on or over a player with the ball who is lying on the ground.
Sanction: Penalty kick
(b) Falling over players lying on the ground near the ball. A player must not intentionally fall on or over players lying on the ground with the ball between them or near them.
Sanction: Penalty kick

Watch the De Allende incident here!

Watch the knock-on here!