Law discussion - faux pas deluxe
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: There are only a few minutes to play. Toulouse are leading Bath by two points – 22-20 and then Freddy Burns blows a golden opportunity to win the match.
First, Burns kicks a penalty from slap in front. The ball strikes an upright and stays out and the fullback Burns gets a golden chance of redemption.
Bath attack again and, from a tackle, scrumhalf Max Green passes to Burns who is up in the line. Burns runs a good line, hands off a desperate defender and has a clear run to the line and victory for Bath.
Casual Burns blows a kiss and slows down to a saunter with the ball in the right hand of his arm extended to dot down. But the Toulouse left wing, Maxime Medard, has other ideas. He sprints across, extends his left arm and the contact he makes knocks the ball away and over the dead-ball line.
The referee orders a five-metre scrum to Toulouse who win the match 22-20.
Was what Medard did legal?
Was the scrum to Toulouse correct?
Yes. Burns was carrying the ball and so Medard was entitled to play him, including tackling him and knocking his arm.
He was not allowed to kick the ball from Burns’s grasp and clearly did not do so. If he had done so, the correct decision would have been a penalty try.
If Medard had knocked the ball from Burns’s grasp, it was also legal as he knocked the ball backwards, towards his own dead-ball line. If he had knocked the ball forward, it would have been illegal and a penalty try would not have been farfetched.
If Medard struck the ball with his hand, a drop-out would have been correct.
If he hit Burns’s forearm causing Burns’s hand to lose the ball forward, the scrum was the correct decision.