Super Rugby Law Applications

Fri, 27 Jan 2017 19:19
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Recently the SANZAAR referee camp was held in Sydney for referees, their managers and team coaches. The latest law applications for 2017 were discussed.

1. TMO Protocol


a) Should the referee or one of his team (assistant referees and TMO), initiate a TMO review, the referee will state his "on-field decision" based on his real-time view before the referral to the TMO.

As an example: a try is scored but the assistant referee is not sure if the player was in touch. The referee would refer by saying " I believe a try has been scored. Please check that the player was not in touch before he grounded the ball?"
b) the TMO will then review that call, overturning the on-field decision only if the "evidence is compelling", therefore proving the on-field call wrong.

As in the example above, if the player was clearly out before the grounding, the TMO would ask the referee to award a line-out.

c)  Exception: The referee has the option to be able to review any foul play incident on the big screen, if the big screen at the Stadium is clear enough for him to do so. If the big screen is not good enough, he will defer to the TMO whose decision is final.

The general consensus is that by having a definitive "on-field call", time is saved and the awkward conversation between referee and TMO that occurs from time to time is eliminated.

While this may not happen in South Africa, be aware that SANZAAR is starting to create a trial process with one or more of their broadcasters, that enables the TMO to control all camera angles and split-screen technology, within the broadcast truck (OSB). This is going to increase the TMO's control of footage and speed up his process (and this means that he sees split screen-angles, etc., more quickly and outside of the broadcast - so that the referee will not see this process in alignment with the TMO).

In summary - The referee makes a clear decision which the TMO can review and only overturn with “compelling” evidence to the contrary.

3. Some Global Changes to Law

Please see below, an announcement from World Rugby re some small Law Changes for 2016. This will NOT apply for the Six Nations matches.

A couple of these are tactically quite different from those of 2016 (for example, the touch and line-out decisions).
None of them create any technique issue, but can have tactical implications for players.

Global law trials set for 2017

Five changes to law will be trialled globally next year after they were approved by World Rugby Council in London recently.

The law changes set to be trialled globally are:

Law 3 Number of Players – The Team

Law 3.13 (Uncontested Scrums)

Add Law 3.13 (h) Uncontested scrums as a result of a sending off, temporary suspension or injury must be played with eight players per side.

Reasoning: To discourage teams from going to uncontested scrums.

Law 5 Time

Add to Law 5.7 (e) If a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the referee allows the throw-in to be taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.

Reasoning: To discourage teams from infringing in the dying moments of the game.

Law 8 Advantage

Add to Law 8.1 (a) When there are multiple penalty infringements by the same team, the referee may allow the captain of the non-offending team to choose the most advantageous of the penalty marks.

Reasoning: To discourage repeat offending when advantage is already being played and to reward teams against whom repeat offending has taken place.

Law 9 Method of Scoring

Law 9.A.1 (points values)

Penalty Try. If a player would probably have scored a try but for foul play by an opponent, a penalty try is awarded. No conversion is attempted.
Value: 7 points

Reasoning: To discourage teams from illegally preventing a probable try from being scored while also saving time on the clock by negating the need for a conversion.

Law 19 Touch and line-out

Add to definitions at the beginning of Law 19:
A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball.

Reasoning: This brings into law something that is already applied in practice. It means that a player "juggling” the ball does not have to be in contact with it at the exact moment of touching the touchline or the ground beyond it for the ball to be deemed to be in touch. This makes it easier for the match officials to adjudicate.

Amend eighth definition at the beginning of Law 19:
If a player jumps and knocks the ball back into the playing area (or if that player catches the ball and throws it back into the playing area) before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, play continues regardless of whether the ball reaches the plane of touch.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Add to definitions at the beginning of Law 19:
If the ball-carrier reaches the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area without first landing in touch, play continues.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Add to sixth definition at the beginning of Law 19:
In this case, if the ball has passed the plane of touch when it is caught, then the catcher is not deemed to have taken the ball into touch. If the ball has not passed the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up, then the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary.

Reasoning: To simplify law and to increase ball-in-play time.

Please, also take note of clarification 4 and 5 from World Rugby which concerns the rolling ball and the touch and dead-ball lines