Tue 11 Dec 2007 | 12:00

How the ELVs could change the tackle law

How the ELVs could change the tackle law
Tue 11 Dec 2007 | 12:00
How the ELVs could change the tackle law
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We shall look at each of the affected laws – tackle, touch and line-out, scrum and in-goal and try to adapt the present law to see what changes could be made in the Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) to be introduced into the Super 14 in two months’ time.

These ELVs may well be expanded when eventually the International Rugby Board (IRB) decides on law changes. At present the changes do not radically change the players actions in play, but, of course, they do change the game, as all law changes do.

We shall start with the tackle. The changes here are mainly threefold – a change of many penalties to free kicks, an off-side line at the tackle and onus on the referee for deliberate infringement.

The avowed intent in much of the change to the tackle law was to take the referee out of the equation, therefore reducing the effect of possible subjectivity, but the onus is even heavier on the referee when he is required to judge intent at the tackle and deliberate/cynical infringement then becomes a penalty.

1. Penalty to Free Kick

The laws affected by the change from penalties to free kicks are Laws 15.4, 15.5, 15.6 and 15.7.

The changes could result in the following, laws in italics, possible changes in bold:

Law 15.4 THE TACKLER

(a) When a player tackles an opponent and they both go to ground, the tackler must immediately release the tackled player.
Penalty: Free Kick

(b) The tackler must immediately get up or move away from the tackled player and from the ball at once.
Penalty: Free Kick

(c) The tackler must get up before playing the ball.
Penalty: Free Kick

5 THE TACKLED PLAYER

(a) A tackled player must try to make the ball available immediately so that play can continue.
Penalty: Free Kick

(b) A tackled player must immediately pass the ball or release it. That player must also get up or move away from it at once.
Penalty: Free Kick

(c) A tackled player may release the ball by putting it on the ground in any direction, provided this is done immediately.
Penalty: Free Kick

(d) A tackled player may release the ball by pushing it along the ground in any direction except forward, provided this is done immediately.

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

(f) If a tackled player’s momentum carries the player into the In-goal, the player can score a try or make a touch down.

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

Law 15.6 OTHER PLAYERS

(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.
Penalty: Free Kick

(b) After a tackle players on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carrier’s possession.

(c) At a tackle or near to a tackle, other players who play the ball must do so from behind the ball and from behind the tackled player or the tackler closest to those players’ goal-line.
Penalty: Free Kick

(d) Any player who gains possession of the ball at the tackle must play the ball immediately by moving away or passing or kicking the ball.
Penalty: Free Kick

(e) Any player who first gains possession of the ball must not go to ground at the tackle or near to it unless tackled by an opposition player.
Penalty: Free Kick

(f) Any player who first gains possession of the ball at the tackle or near to it may be tackled by an opposition player providing that player does so from behind the ball and from behind the tackled player or the tackler nearest that player’s goal-line.
Penalty: Free Kick

(g) After a tackle, any player lying on the ground must not prevent an opponent from getting possession of the ball.
Penalty: Free Kick

(h) After a tackle any player on the ground must not tackle an opponent or try to tackle an opponent.
Penalty: Free Kick

(i) When a tackled player reaches out to ground the ball on nor over the goal-line to score a try, an opponent may pull the ball from the player’s possession, but must not kick the ball.
Penalty: Free Kick

Law 15.7 FORBIDDEN PRACTICES

(a) No player may prevent the tackled player from passing the ball.
Penalty: Free Kick

(b) No player may prevent the tackled player from releasing the ball and getting up or moving away from it.
Penalty: Free Kick

(c) No player may fall on or over a tackled player.
Penalty: Free Kick

(d) No player may fall on or over the players lying on the ground after a tackle with the ball between or near them.
Penalty: Free Kick

(e) Players on their feet must not charge or obstruct an opponent who is not near the ball.
Penalty: Free Kick

(f) Danger may arise if a tackled player fails to release the ball or move away from it immediately, or if that player is prevented from so doing. If either of these happens the referee awards a free kick immediately.
Penalty: Free Kick

2. Off-side at the tackle

At present there is in law no off-side line at the tackle. There are regulations governing the approach to the tackle – through the gate. If the ball is no longer near (i.e. within a metre of) the tackle, a player may play the ball from any direction or position that he may be in. (That’s roughly put.)

Now there will be off-side lines and going off-side here will incur a penalty, not a free kick. There is an irony here. What was a penalty before is now a free kick and what was legal before is now a penalty!.

We have taken the word king of off-side at the ruck and adapted it to the tackle.

5 OFF-SIDE AT THE TACKLE

(a) The off-side line. There are two off-side lines parallel to the goal-lines, one for each team. Each off-side line runs through the hindmost foot of the hindmost part of player in the tackle who is nearest to his side’s goal-line. If the hindmost part of the hindmost player is on or behind the goal-line, the off-side line for the defending team is the goal-line.
Penalty: Penalty Kick

(b) At a tackle or near to a tackle, other players who play the ball must do so from behind the off-side line on their side of the tackle and from behind the tackled player or the tackler closest to those players’ goal-line.
Penalty: Penalty Kick

(c) Players not playing the ball at the tackle must retire behind the off-side line at once. If a player who is behind the off-side line oversteps it the player is off-side.
Penalty: Penalty Kick

3. DELIBERATE INFRINGEMENT AT THE TACKLE

This is the hard one for referees. It falls under Law 10.

Law 10.2 UNFAIR PLAY

(d) If a player intentionally infringes the tackle law, the player is penalised and must be either admonished, or cautioned that a send off will result if the offence or similar offence is committed, or sent off. After a caution a player is temporarily suspended from the match for a period of ten minutes playing time. After a caution, if the player commits the same or similar offence, the player must be sent off.
Penalty: 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.
Warning: What is written above in terms of the law is not an attempt to put the ELVs into the law. What eventually comes from the IRB may well be differently worded.

PV: 15
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