Law discussion: The long drop-out
Greig Laidlaw of Scotland misses a penalty kick at goal. George Ford of England then drops out. It is a long and high kick, landing about a metre outside the Scottish 22 and then rolling on and on into the Scottish in-goal as Finn Russell (10) of Scotland keeps an eager eye on it. When it gets in in-goal Russell grabs it and dots it down. The referee orders a drop-out to Scotland.
Not if Russell's only contact with the ball in the in-goal was to dot it down. And it appears that that was his only contact with the ball and he gave no semblance of playing it in any other way.
The law in this matter is remarkably clear.
Law 13.15 DROP-OUT GOES INTO The OPPONENTS’ IN-GOAL
(a) If the ball is kicked into the opponents’ in-goal without having touched or been touched by a player, the opposing team has three choices:
To ground the ball, or
To make it dead, or
To play on.
(b) If the opposing team grounds the ball, or makes it dead, or if the ball becomes dead by going into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, they have two choices:
To have a scrum formed at the centre of the 22-metre line from where the kick was taken and they throw in the ball, or
To have the other team drop-out again.
(c) If they opt to ground the ball or make it dead, they must do so without delay. Any other action with the ball by a defending player means the player has elected to play on.
(a) Russell grounded the ball.
(c) Russell grounded the ball without delay.
Therefore, (b) Scotland had the option of a scrum on the England 22 or allowing England to drop out again. (Note that a Scotland drop-out is not an option.)
Surely Scotland would have taken the attacking scrum.
Strange that nobody mentioned this.
Of course, it's a rarity. The next time I see it will be the second time. It's like the old (no longer extant) mark from a knock-on. It was in the laws from at least 1862 till recently and I saw it happen only once in my life – at Newlands with Frank Greenblatt as the referee, and he got it right.
By Paul Dobson