Mon 30 May 2016 | 04:24

Law discussion: A single act

Law discussion: A single act
Mon 30 May 2016 | 04:24
Law discussion: A single act
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It has provoked controversy and some criticism of the referee's decision and therefore, it seems, of the referee.

Firstly let's look at what a penalty try is not for.

A penalty try is NOT awarded for repeated infringements. It has NOTHING to do with repeated infringements.

A penalty try is a single act, always a single act.

We accept that readily in the case where a man on his way to fall on a ball in the opponents' in-goal is brought to ground and is thus prevented from scoring.

We understand that. But the principle is no different in the case of a collapsed scrum or a collapsed maul. There are certainly cases where a penalty try should have been awarded at the first collapse and then gets awarded at the fourth collapse.

This gives the impression that it is a sanction for repeated infringement. But that is more often than not a case of poor refereeing.

Let's look at the law and then look at what happened.

Law 10.2 UNFAIR PLAY
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.

There it is. It's one act of unfair play that in the referee's judgement prevents a try from being scored.

One act – not a series of acts, not an accumulation of offences.

A referee would be betraying his trade if he warned a team, saying: "The next time you pull the scrum down, I'm going to award a penalty try."

It is one act – unfair play preventing the scoring of a probable try.

Unfair play includes intentionally infringing and includes foul play. But they are not on their own reason to award a penalty try. The penalty try would be awarded only if the other criterion is met – preventing a probable try.

Probable – not certain, not possible, not even likely. Possible covers the whole field. If possible is 1-10 and certain is 10, then probable is 8 or 9 out of 10. The preventing is an action by the opposition – not the weather or the bounce of the ball, though if a non-player prevents the scoring of what the referee believes would have been a try, then he awards the try.

It is important to absorb this principle and to do so without objection, for it is what the referee is required to apply

In this case the Kings are to put the ball into a scrum against the Jaguares who are now a team of 12 men as two were redcarded and a third yellowcarded. The scrum is five metres from the Jaguares' line.

The Jaguares have five tight forwards, a No.8 on the one flank and a smallish back on the other flank. It is eight against seven.

The referee takes trouble in setting the scrum whose middle line is above the five-metre line.

The Kings put the ball into the scrum and immediately push it forward. The ball is at their No.8's feet. That probably means it is about three metres behind the place where the middle line was, the five-metre line. The Kings then shove ahead and have pushed till the No.8's feet are about two metres beyond the five-metre line.

That means that they have pushed the scrum about five metres ahead. They are on their feet and in control. The Jaguares are not going to push them back. Then down goes the Jaguares loosehead, Facundo Gigena, and there is not chance of keeping the momentum going.

The referee awards the Kings a penalty try.

Law 19 deals with foul play.

Law 10.4 (k) DANGEROUS PLAY AT SCRUM, RUCK OR MAUL
Players must not intentionally collapse a scrum, ruck or maul.
Sanction: Penalty kick.

Certainly Gigena collapsed the scrum. There appears no need to have done so as the Kings were intent on keeping the scrum, up.

Given that the Kings had shoved so far forward and that the Jaguares had no honest means of stopping them, it is safe to believe that the Kings would manage to shove the rest of the way and score a try. The collapse scuppered that plan. It rendered what was [probable impossible.

So the single and sole reason to award a try had happened. The Kings were probably going to score a try, the Jaguares, of their own accord, collapsed the scrum and so prevented the probable scoring of a try.

The criteria for awarding a penalty try were all present.

The referee then did his duty as the law demands.

Law 10.2 UNFAIR PLAY
(a) Intentionally Offending. A player must not intentionally infringe any Law of the Game, or play unfairly. The player who intentionally offends must be either admonished, or cautioned that a send-off will result if the offence or a similar offence is committed, or sent off.
Sanction: 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.

The referee would have been within his rights to send Facundo to the sin bin. It is not easy to do that in the case of a collapsed scrum because there are usually more than one player involved.

By Paul Dobson

PV: 4


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