Law discussion: The Pickard Principle
Jan Pickard, one of the greatest personalities of Newlands where rugby has been played since 1891, had ways of dealing with/outwitting referees.
He played for South Africa and captained Western Province whose president he became.
When he captained his team – province or club – he would tell his backs to go offside, but right offside to create uncertainty in the referee's mind that perhaps the player was right after all. This could be case in this match.
It is a women's Test between New Zealand and Australia in New Zealand. Kendra Cocksedge of New Zealand kicks off to start the match. Centre Sarah Riordan of Australia catches the ball and charges ahead.
She is grabbed and brought to ground by Aleisha Nelson and Charmaine Smith of New Zealand. Mollie Gray of Australia stands over her fallen team-mate to protect the ball.
Sarah Goss, the New Zealand flank, had run beyond the tackle but falls back and goes behind Gray, picks up the ball, turns and runs off with it towards the Australian line.
The commentator justifies it on the grounds that there was no ruck – just Mollie Grey crouched over the ball but not in contact with any New Zealand player for Aleisha Nelson and Charmaine Smith are back on their feet and standing back.
There was no ruck.
Then what was this? Was it a tackle?
It was a tackle. Aleisha Nelson and Charmaine Smith grabbed Sarah Riordan and brought her to ground.
Law 15 DEFINITIONS
A tackle occurs when the ball-carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground.
Opposition players who hold the ball-carrier and bring that player to ground, and who also go to ground, are known as tacklers.
Opposition players who hold the ball-carrier and do not go to ground are not tacklers.
Charmaine Smith went to ground. She was a tackler though Aleisha Nelson was not – in terms of the Laws of the Game.
Sarah Goss then approaches the tackle. She is neither tackler nor tackled player. In the laws she falls under Other Players,
Law 15.6 (d) At a tackle or near to a tackle, other players who play the ball must do so from behind the ball and from directly behind the tackled player or the tackler closest to those players’ goal line.
Sanction: Penalty kick
Sarah Goss was in front of the ball, closer to the Australian goal-line.
She was certainly penalisable – but the Pickard Principle seemed to work for her as she was allowed to play on.