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Sam Cane cleared while Malakai Fekitoa receives one week ban

Hi DrG, I guess it comes down to the intent behind the law. For me, the law dealing with high tackles exists not just to punish tackles above the shoulders, but to discourage them. If I know that I'll cost my team if I break the law, I will actively try to avoid breaking it. If the law is enforced strictly, regardless of whether it was an accident, or hit low and slid up, etc. then players will approach tackling differently.

Here's are two examples of different approaches:
1 - I know that not all high tackles are called, and that I will probably not have to deal with a ban for one. When approaching a tackle, I aim at the player's chest because that's where I can get the biggest bang, and because it's more convenient for me to aim higher when I'm running cross-field. Therefore, I start from a running position and don't adjust until I have to.
2 - I know that high tackles are dealt with strictly, both by the referee and the citing commissioner. When approaching a tackle, I aim for the shorts to make sure I avoid coming in too high and being penalized/sent off/banned. Therefore, as soon as I get within a few meters of the player I will tackle, I am low and ready to make the hit safely.

In the past number of years, I've refereed a lot of rugby games at all sorts of levels, and have found that being strict and consistent with high tackles of all kinds is the most effective way to avoid them and, ironically, to reduce overall penalty count. Penalize the first 1-3 and make it clear you'll have none of it, and the players will adjust and 'keep it down'. Helps to cut down on the number of dust-ups too...

1 Week, 1 Day ago

Sam Cane cleared while Malakai Fekitoa receives one week ban

Well, in the case of the French they get the short end of the stick - you see, they'll get assigned an Anglophone citing commissioner who will assume that "Désolé monsieur, j'ai commis un erreur et j'ai honte. Désormais, je ferai de mon mieux de jouer le jeux selon l'esprit de la loi" is French for "your mother was a hamster and your father smelled of elderberries".

The poor confused Frenchman will get a lifetime ban due to the above miscommunication, and because his maternal grandfather was a Pacific Islander.

;)

1 Week, 1 Day ago

Sam Cane cleared while Malakai Fekitoa receives one week ban

Oh, I know it's there at every hearing - it's actually written into the directives for disciplinary committees (see World Rugby's Regulation 17.19.5 - Mitigating Factors). I just find it incredibly ridiculous that a group of otherwise intelligent adults thought that saying please and being polite was grounds for reducing a ban - where I'm from it's the bare minimum to avoid a smack from one or more older family members!

I can just see the thought process: "well, he came in and sat down in that chair without punching anyone, he didn't drop a single F-bomb the entire hearing, and I even think I heard him call me 'sir' once...what a good lad, let's reduce his ban to one week."

1 Week, 1 Day ago

Sam Cane cleared while Malakai Fekitoa receives one week ban

Now to Fekitoa...
At no point in the attempted tackle is he crouched in a typical tackling position - he runs across high, starts high, and finishes with his feet off the ground and his arm around Zebo's face. Furthermore, his "tackle" looks more like he's going in for a combination of an uppercut and a hook - a swinging arm tackle, at best.

Fekitoa has violated not one, but two parts of the Foul Play law:
10.4 (a): Punching or striking. A player must not strike an opponent with the fist or arm, including the elbow, shoulder, head or knee(s).

and

10.4 (e): A player must not tackle (or try to tackle) an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. A tackle around the opponent’s neck or head is dangerous play.

In every league I've played or refereed in, that would earn him a straight red card.

Now to the suspension - I wholeheartedly disagree that "good conduct at the hearing" should be a mitigating factor...just spoke to a trial lawyer that I know - he thinks it's crazy. There's no precedent for that in the court of law - why should it be a mitigating factor in a sanction hearing?

1 Week, 2 Days ago

Sam Cane cleared while Malakai Fekitoa receives one week ban

So now World Rugby's citing group have returned a judgement that is demonstrably wrong: in their statement they say that Cane's high tackle was not foul play because it was accidental. However, if you read Law 10.4 (e), it states explicitly that "a player must not tackle (or try to tackle) an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. A tackle around the opponent’s neck or head is dangerous play." There is no gray area, no mention of intent or accident. A player who tackles an opponent above the shoulders is guilty of dangerous play...under the section of laws titled "Foul Play". By definition - in World Rugby's own law book - any tackle above the shoulders is foul play.

Their statement directly contradicts their law book. That being said, I agree that a yellow is enough in this case - as long as the player doesn't have a history of foul play (I don't think Cane does).

1 Week, 2 Days ago

Perfectly executed back heel kick 100m try goes viral

You are correct. The face is not a knock-on, neither is the upper leg, the chest, the back, the forehead, etc.

2 Weeks, 23 Hours ago

Perfectly executed back heel kick 100m try goes viral

Actually, if a player loses the ball backwards or straight down, then it hits his knee and goes forward then it is not a knock-on.

2 Weeks, 23 Hours ago

Perfectly executed back heel kick 100m try goes viral

Actually, when you kick a ball you're still technically in possession while the ball is in the air (ever wonder why if you form a maul immediately after catching the ball on the full, you get the ball back when the maul fails?). So a kick is not a loss of possession, merely a loss of control.

Of course, this is a situation where it's not a kick...so the loss of possession is actually when he releases the ball behind him.

The law about kicks doesn't prevent a player from propelling the ball forward by other means (e.g.: off the body, the upper leg, the face); it just defines what may be considered a kick for the purposes of scoring points or restarting the game.

2 Weeks, 23 Hours ago

Wallabies disallowed try viewed as a major turning point in loss

Except under the laws, continuing to run your support line is not obstruction. Haylett-Petty is not required to move out of the way of Savea.

The law on obstruction that deals with blocking the tackler [10.1 (c)] states that "A player must not intentionally move or stand in a position that prevents an opponent from tackling a ball carrier."

The argument is that Haylett-Petty deliberately got in Savea's way, but if you look at the video, he starts running a support line towards the outside. As he continues on his line, he happens to bump Savea (granted, he does shove a little...). Both players are entitled to continue running their lines (you wouldn't expect Savea to move to allow a support player to get into a better position).

1 Month, 1 Day ago

Wallabies disallowed try viewed as a major turning point in loss

Obstruction requires the obstructer to change his line to deliberately get in the way. Because Hale-Petty was already running a line that would take him to the outside, he is entitled to continue to run that line. He does not have to get out of Savea's way.

1 Month, 1 Day ago