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Law Discussion: NZ's battle with the laws

SPOTLIGHT: @rugby365com’s law guru Paul Dobson takes a look at the officiating during the Super Rugby Aotearoa Round Two match between Chiefs and the Blues.


The rain bucketed down in Hamilton and still the rugby-starved crowd filled the Waikato Stadium, something last achieved in 2006 – and they were glad to be there despite the rain and despite their team’s defeat. Perhaps it was the relief of doing something normal in these horribly abnormal times.

Not because of the weather or of Covid-19, in this, the third Aotearoa match, the referee again insisted that the laws around the tackle be observed.

There were fewer penalties than the 30 apiece of the first round but still there were 23 penalties – one for playing a man without the ball, one for playing a man in the air at a line-out and two at the maul but 19 around the tackle.

There was a total of 12 scrums in the first round of Super Rugby Aotearoa; in this match there were 10 scrums. None of the 22 scrums in three matches has been for unplayable tackles. There were just on 180 tackles in this slippery match and none was unplayable – just 19 penalties and 160 tackles where the ball was free for play to continue.

There were two changes from the first round – penalties (two, both against the Blues) at the maul and resets at scrums. All the scrum resets were on the Chiefs’ ball and one was when the scrum collapsed. But the scrum feed looked straight and there were even two tightheads.


As in the first round, at the first line-out of the match, the referee got the players to get into the line-out immediately – no pre-line-out meetings, no sauntering in. Get into the line-out and have the ball in.

There certainly is an effort to get the game going more speedily – and it’s working and is likely to work even better as the players learn to conform to the requirements of the law. And please – the referees are applying the laws, not interpreting them.

CLICK HERE for match report

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