Law discussion: Crotty's try

Tue, 10 Oct 2017 11:12
Large ruan crotty and kolisi .800

The score between South Africa and New Zealand at Newlands on Saturday was 3-3 when a try was awarded to New Zealand, scored by Ryan Crotty.

The validity of the try, awarded after long consultation with the TMO, has been questioned - not that anything can now be done to overturn the result in any way.

South Africa win the ball and scrumhalf Ross Cronje passes to his flyhalf Elton Jantjies. Jantjies is going right, slightly across field and with his left foot kicks the ball. Beauden Barrett, the New Zealand flyhalf, is quickly up and, hands forward, charges down the kick. The ball bounces beyond the South African 10-metre line where Barrett, left-footed, flykicks the ball ahead. Barrett and the South Africans Jesse Kriel and Cronje, race after the bouncing ball. Kriel and Barrett are ahead of the ball which veers to the left, which is Kriel's side. Kriel gets a hand to the ball but cannot grab it. Kriel is over the line when his body knocks the ball away from Barrett. It is in in-goal. Siya Kolisi and Crotty go for the ball. Initially Kolisi is ahead of Crotty but Crotty dives past Kriel. Crotty's hands are outstretched and make contact. The ball goes to ground and Crotty's torso falls on it..

The referee consults the TMO, telling him that his onfield decision is a try, which means that the TMO must have "compelling evidence" that the try has not been score for it not to be awarded.

The referee, with his assistant at hand, and the TMO watch the approach to the ball as Kriel and Barrett run after it, and find no problem there.

Then it is the grounding. They look at it six times and then award the try.

First point: there is nothing in the laws that require the player to have control in trying to ground the ball for a try. The word control is not there. It is some sort of short-cut invention which is, at best, a half truth - rather like 'double movement'.

The first question we should ask is: Did Crotty knock on?

Law 12 DEFINITION: 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.

and it goes forward.

Law 12 'Forward' means means towards the opposing team's dead-ball line.

In this case the ball does not go forward from Crotty's hands.
Therefore it is not a knock-on.
Therefore there is no infringement.
Therefore it is not a compelling reason not to award the try.

Then we move to grounding.

Does Crotty ground the ball?

Law 22.1 Grounding the ball
There are two ways a player can ground the ball:
(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required .
(b) Player presses down on the ball. A player grounds the ball when it is on the ground in the in-goal and the player presses down on it with a hand or hands, arm or arms, or the front of the player’s body from waist to neck inclusive.

(a) does not apply as Crotty is not holding the ball.
(b) applies. Crotty's hands press down on the ball when it is in the ground But if that is not enough, the front of Crotty's body certainly presses down on the ball.

The try is the right decision.

PS It's strange that Kolisi did not dive for the ball. In fact Jantjies, Kriel and Kolisi could all have prevented this opportunistic try.

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