Law discussion: Back into the scrum
Is that what happens in these two incidents in the Currie Cup match in Potchefstroom between the Leopards and Western Province?
1. First incident (see video below)
Hershel Jantjies of Western Province puts the ball into a scrum. Neither hooker hooks the ball, but tall Marno Redelinghuys (6) of the Leopards foots the ball back to his side. The Leopards pass the ball left and a great pass to him and a strong step by him sends Bradley Moolman in for a try, which is awarded. But the TMO intervenes, saying to the referees: "That ball came through the tunnel. It was either in the tunnel or hooked back into the scrum by the flanker. So the try cannot be awarded."
The referee and the TMO then agree that a penalty be awarded against the Leopards.
It is important to know whether the ball was out of the tunnel or still in the tunnel when Redelinghuys played it back. It is important decision as the next step depends on it.
Let's look at what the law says.
Firstly if the ball is out of the tunnel:
Law 20.7 (c) If the ball is not played by a front row player, and it goes straight through the tunnel and comes out behind the foot of a far prop without being touched, the scrumhalf must throw it in again.
That means it would be another scrum with Western Province to put the ball in.
Secondly if the ball is still in the tunnel and the flank has played it:
Law 20.9 (f) Locks and flankers: Staying out of the tunnel. A player who is not a front-row player must not play the ball in the tunnel.
Sanction: Free Kick
It would be a free kick, not a penalty.
It does seem that the ball is beyond the Leopards loosehead's feet and therefore out of the scrum and that the correct decision would have been a scrum again, to Western Province.
Law 11.6 ACCIDENTAL OFFSIDE
(a) When an offside player cannot avoid being touched by the ball or by a team-mate carrying it, the player is accidentally offside. If the player’s team gains no advantage from this, play continues. If the player’s team gains an advantage, a scrum is formed with the opposing team throwing in the ball.
2. Second incident (see video below)
Freddie Muller, the replacement Western Province scrumhalf, puts the ball into the scrum. Western Province heel the ball and their scrum lurches forward. The ball strikes/is struck by the right foot of flank Beyers de Villiers (6) and rebounds sideways out of the scrum where it strikes Muller's left foot. It then rebounds from Muller's feet backwards into De Villiers's feet.
The referee penalises Muller for kicking the ball back into the scrums.
Firstly, did Muller kick the ball?
Kick: a kick is made by hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, and from knee to toe, but not including the knee. A kick must move a visible distance out of the hand.
Muller does not hit the ball; the ball hits Muller.
Secondly, if Muller kicked the ball,
20.9 SCRUM – GENERAL RESTRICTIONS
(d) All players: When the ball-comes out, leave it out. When the ball has left the scrum, a player must not bring it back in to the scrum.
Sanction: Free Kick
So it would have been a free kick, not a penalty if Muller really did bring the ball back into the scrum.
It seems that the correct decision would have been a scrum to the Leopards for accidental offside by Muller when the ball struck his foot.