Ellis Park penalty try not unusual

Tue, 10 Sep 2013 21:30
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There was a lot of talk about the penalty try awarded to the Golden Lions when they played Western Province at Ellis Park recently.

There was a lot of talk about the penalty try awarded to the Golden Lions when they played Western Province at Ellis Park last recently.

Just when you think you have seen something new in rugby football, it turns out that it was not so unusual at all.

Referee Matt Kemp remembers seeing it a year before when the Golden Lions played Western Province at Under-21 level.

With two minutes to play the Golden Lions were leading Western Province 21-20 but Western Province were attacking. The ball goes out to speedy, slender Devon Williams on the right wing though he was a left wing. He heads for the corner but Bradley Moolman garbs and ankle and both go to ground, Williams ahead of Moolman and not far from the line

Huge Paul Willemse came charging in and dived on Williams who lost the ball close to the line.

The referee consults the TMO, who says: "The Blue player was tackled short of the line. Then the White player, the arriving player, fell on top of him. In my opinion the Blue player short of the line was prevented from scoring a try.

"My recommendation to you will be a penalty try and a yellow card against the arriving player, Number 18."

The referee did that. Western Province converted and took the lead at 27-21.

There were three infringements by Willemse - side entry into a tackle, going off his feet and falling on a player in the ground.

It was a tackle, for Williams was held and brought to the ground by an opponent.
Willemse, who was not a tackler, did not stay on his feet.
Willemse, who was not a tackler, was the obliged to approach the tackle from behind the ball and behind the tackled player.
Willemse infringed by falling on Williams

(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
(b) After a tackle any players on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball-carrier’s possession.
(d) At a tackle or near to a tackle, other players who play the ball must do so from behind the ball and from directly behind the tackled player or the 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.
Sancti:on Penalty kick

The commentator said two silly things. He asked how Willemse could prevent the try. If he could not prevent it legally, he was not entitled to do so illegally. The end does not justify the means.

When Willemse was given a yellow card, the commentator's comment was: "Tough call on Willemse."

Once the penalty try was awarded the referee was obliged by law - made by the IRB, not by the referee or the TMO - to send Willemse to the sin bin.

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.

The only choice the referee had was a yellow card or a red card.

In fact what Willemse did was tougher on Williams, who suffered a posterior sterno-clavicular dislocation. He dislocated his shoulder but in a way that had serious consequences which could have been even more serious. He was roughly 5mm from having his aorta pierced. Had that happened, he would have died on the field in a matter of minutes. That is a horror thought.

He underwent an operation and was out of rugby for just short of a year.

The law forbidding falling on a player on the ground was made precisely to avoid this form of unnecessary injury.

This match was played at Newlands in 2012 and at the time we discussed the matter. This is just to recall it in view of the penalty try against Western Province and the yellow card for Damian De Allende, which caused ire in the Western Cape.

There is, it seems, nothing new under the sun.

Oh, and by the way, there was still time left in the match for Moolman to score a converted try which gave the Golden Lions a 28-27 victory.