Wed 3 Apr 2019 | 05:12

Law discussion: The disputed card

Law discussion: The disputed card
Wed 3 Apr 2019 | 05:12
Law discussion: The disputed card

SUPER RUGBY SPOTLIGHT: @rugby365com‘s law guru Paul Dobson looks at another controversial moment in last week’s Round Seven action.


After 24 minutes in the first half of the Super Rugby match between the Hurricanes and the Crusaders, Bryn Hall, the Crusaders’ scrumhalf, puts the ball into a scrum.

The Hurricanes get a powerful surge forward and the scrum wheels. The ball comes out on the other side of the scrum from where Hall had put the ball in. The referee penalises the Crusaders for illegal scrummaging.

TJ Perenara, the Hurricanes lively scrumhalf, had darted around the scrum as it wheeled about. He grabbed the ball and took a tap kick for the penalty.

In the wheeling of the scrum, Matt Todd, the Crusaders’ left flank, had wheeled with the scrum and was behind Perenara when Perenara took the tap kick. As Perenara takes the kick, Todd accelerated towards Perenara and seemed to make contact with Perenara. Perenara spilt the ball. The referee immediately penalised Todd and showed him a yellow card.

What follows this is something that does not belong in rugby. Clearly angry and gesticulating, Todd argued with the referee. This was an action which falls under Law 9 which deals with Foul Play.

* Continue reading below …


A player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship.
Players must respect the authority of the referee. They must not dispute the referee’s decisions.
Sanction: Penalty.

But back to the penalty and the yellow card.

When a penalty or free-kick is awarded, the opposing team must immediately retreat 10 metres towards their own goal line or until they have reached their goal line if that is closer.
13 Even if the penalty or free-kick is taken quickly and the kicker’s team is playing the ball, opposing players must keep retreating the necessary distance. They may not take part in the game until they have done so.
14 If it is taken so quickly that opponents have no opportunity to retreat, they will not be sanctioned for this. However, they may not take part in the game until they have retreated 10 metres from the mark or until a team-mate who was 10 metres from the mark has moved in front of them.
15 The opposing team may not do anything to delay the kick or obstruct the kicker, including intentionally taking, throwing or kicking the ball out of reach of the team awarded the penalty.
Sanction: Second penalty or free-kick, 10 metres in front of the original mark. The second penalty or free-kick must not be taken before the referee has made the mark


Perenara was entitled to run, unimpeded, for 10 metres. Todd’s action seemed to prevent Perenara from doing that. The referee obviously decided that Todd had acted deliberately to prevent Perenara’s taking a quick tap kick.

Law 9.7 A player must not:
a. Intentionally infringe any law of the game.
Sanction: Penalty

In the referee’s judgement – which is the one that counts – Todd had deliberately acted to stop Perenara from playing quickly as he was entitled to do. This way of acting is sometimes referred to by referees as cynical, acting purely out of self-interest without regard to the provisions of the game and the sportsmanship it hopes to achieve. It was more than just an infringement. It was an infringement with intent.

But the card?

Law 9 Foul play
A player who commits foul play must either be cautioned or temporarily suspended or sent off.

The referee had three choices in dealing with Todd – a penalty, a penalty and a yellow card, a penalty and a red card.

The referee used the second option, as he was entitled to do.

What about consultation with the TMO? Is it just possible that Todd’s behaviour militated against such prudence?

By Paul Dobson

PV: 897