Wed 29 Jan 2020 | 01:47

Law discussion: Penalty try?

Law discussion: Penalty try?
Wed 29 Jan 2020 | 01:47
Law discussion: Penalty try?

PRO14 SPOTLIGHT: @rugby365com law guru Paul Dobson takes a look at a contentious incident in last week’s spiteful derby between the Southern Kings and Cheetahs.


The Kings are leading 20-5 early in the second half of their match with the Cheetahs in Port Elizabeth, but the Cheetahs advance in phases and are hot on the attack.

Seven metres from the Kings’ goal-line and in front of their posts, the referee penalises Thembelani Bholi for being offside. Up comes Benhard Janse van Rensburg. He taps and charges straight at the line. Two metres from the goal-line he is tackled. The referee indicates advantage in favour of the Cheetahs. They play on till a knock-on ends their attempt to bash over for a try. The referee shows Bholi a yellow card for preventing Janse van Rensburg to run the full length allowed by the law.

When a penalty or free-kick is awarded, the opposing team must immediately retreat 10 metres towards their own goal line or until they have reached their goal-line if that is closer.

Bholi had not reached his goal-line before stopping Janse van Rensburg.

The Cheetahs opt for a five-metre scrum. They bash and Sintu Manjezi scores a try.

Could the referee have awarded a penalty try for Bholi’s infringement?


Penalty try: Awarded when, in the opinion of the referee, a try probably would have been scored (or scored in a more advantageous position) if not for an act of foul play by an opponent.

But was Bholi guilty of foul play?

Law 9 deals with foul play. It has several examples of foul play, one of them labelled Unfair Play.

A player must not:
a. Intentionally infringe any law of the game.


Bholi’s action could certainly have been judged Unfair Play, and a penalty try could well have been awarded.

Any reason not to award a penalty try?

Bholi was not on his own. He had a team-mate on each side of him and then straight behind him there was No.8 Elrigh Louw.

Would Janse van Rensburg probably have scored but for Bholi’s intervention.

Possibly – yes.
Probably – doubtful enough for the referee to stay with just the penalty.

PV: 892