Law discussion: Why no try?
SPOTLIGHT: @rugby365com‘s law guru Paul Dobson looks at a contentious incident from the past weekend’s Super Rugby.
This is an incident in the match at Newlands between the Stormers and the Jaguares in which the TMO is consulted and a try is disallowed.
The Stormers are leading 17-7. Shortly after the Jaguares had scored a try against the Stormers, Damian Willemse of the Stormers kicks a high kick which Dillyn Leyds chases. Some 10 metres outside the Jaguares’ 22 on their right, Gonzalo Bertranou, replacement scrumhalf, jumps for the ball as Leyds approaches. Bertranou does not catch the ball but drops it. No.8 Rodrigo Bruni grabs the bouncing ball and passe it. The Jaguares for wide left – Juan Cruz Mallia to Guido Petti, to Francisco Gorrissen, out to left wing Sebastian Cancelliere who gives to Matías Moroni. Moroni gives inside to right wing Bautista Delguy who gives inside to Cancelliere who goes over for a try.
The referee consults the TMO. The referee has seen the grounding and so tells the TMO that his “onfield decision is a try”, but asks him to look at what went on between Bertranou and Bruni nearly 70 metres downfield.
Replays show that from Bertranou’s attempt to catch the ball it went to ground and then bounced to Bruni who played it. It showed that when Bruni played the ball he was in front of Bertranou.
This is the most rudimentary form of offside.
Law 10 OFFSIDE AND ONSIDE IN OPEN PLAY
1. A player is offside in open play if that player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball or who last played it. An offside player must not interfere with play. This includes:
a. Playing the ball.
Bruni was in front of Bertanou when Bertranou played the ball and in front of Bertanou when he, Bruni, played the ball. That means that Bruni was offside.
And so the referee declared the try null and void and penalised Bruni where he grabbed the bouncing ball.
It’s a long way back. Do the laws allow that?
There is a protocol that regulates procedures when the referee consults a TMO.
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The following is an excerpt from the current protocol:
Global Trial Law 6.15 and 6.16 TELEVISION MATCH OFFICIAL / LAW AMENDMENT TRIAL
(b) A match organiser may appoint an official known as a Television Match Official (TMO) who uses technological devices to clarify situations relating to:
iv. Where match officials believe an infringement may have occurred leading to a try or in preventing a try providing that the potential infringement has occurred no more than two phases (rucks or mauls) after the potential infringement and before the ball has been grounded in in-goal
There are no phases (rucks or mauls) between Bruni’s catching and Cancelliere’s “scoring”.
Therefore the referee and the TMO were entitled to examine what happened when Bruni played the ball.
They were right to decide that he was offside.
The referee was right to disallow the try and penalise Bruni.
By the way, a commentator made a valid point when he said that Bertranou had not knocked on. The ball had gone backwards from him and then bounced forward when it fell to ground. Bouncing forward does not make for a knock-on. If Bertranou had gathered the ball and passed to Mallia, it would have been a glorious try. But instead Bruni instinctively played the ball when he was in an offside position and so he was duly penalised.
It was the right result.