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Crunching tackle plants fullback into the ground in Florida, USA

I read an interesting novel once. It was set in a futuristic world that had a giant computer system that ran games as part of a tournament, including one that the main character played in that simulated American Football (a historical game played by the ancients). In that game, the main character won because the referee (a robot) was programmed to occasionally make a mistake, so as to better replicate the reality of the game as it was played.

I think that's the best way to approach rugby - occasionally, the referee will make a mistake and that's part of the game. No TMO necessary, people just accept the call on the field and move on.

The role of the judiciary is one that's up for debate - I think they should only be involved in suspendable offences and should make a real effort to be more consistent - maybe include one judicial officer, one former player, and a referee or something like that.

4 Months, 1 Week ago

Crunching tackle plants fullback into the ground in Florida, USA

DrG, I share your frustration. Part of the problem is that people tend to get emotional where foul play (or perceived foul play) is concerned. If there is an injury, then proceedings become even more emotional - where there is a victim, we tend to need to find a villain.

Legally speaking, it's nearly impossible to prove intent in the course of a game unless the action is specifically outlawed (ie: punching someone in the face is almost exclusively "intent to injure" since there are very few other reasons to dummy a bloke in the chops). In the case of a high tackle or a lifting tip tackle, it is easy to prove that it broke the laws of the game, but very hard to prove that it was done with the intent of causing harm, and not just out of clumsiness or poor technique.

As a result, referees in most sports are typically asked to assess the impact the action had on the game, and not the thoughts running through a player's head prior to an infraction. In the example you provided (BOD missing a punch), there should be no sanction because there was no tangible effect resulting from the swing. As a referee, I might be inclined to penalize him for general poor sportsmanship [10.4 (m)].

In another example that happens all the time, a player ducks into a tackle and gets smashed in the face. You might say that the tackler didn't intend to hit high, but the fact remains he did and it's a penalty. This has been controversial in the past, but it's against the law as it's written.

Unfortunately not all referees (even at the top level) follow the law consistently, and it's even rarer that the judicial committee applies the law consistently. Us plebs are left scratching our heads and wondering what just happened!

4 Months, 1 Week ago

Crunching tackle plants fullback into the ground in Florida, USA

To echo what's posted in reply already and to bring the relevant law into the discussion:

Law 10.4 (j) deals specifically with tip-tackles - "Lifting a player from the ground and dropping or driving that player into the ground whilst that player's feet are still off the ground such that the player's head and/or upper body come into contact with the ground is dangerous play."

There are two parts to this law; we'll deal with the second first because it is what most people are reacting to. The tackled player has been dropped/driven into the ground in such a way as to land on his head/upper body. This tackle contravenes the second part of the law.

HOWEVER, the second part of the law is conditional on the first clause of the law - this means that the part about landing on the head only applies if the first part is true, and that is that the tackler lifts the ball carrier. This has not happened in this case, so whether or not the tackled player lands on his head is irrelevant.

To sum up: in order to be sanctioned under the tip tackle law 10.4 (j), an action must satisfy two conditions (lift, and drive/drop onto head/upper body). Since the tackle in this video only fulfills one of the two conditions, it's play on.

Of course, the ref appears to be doing the right thing and penalizing the guy for lying all over his victim...

4 Months, 1 Week ago

Sublime Fiji skills light up Dubai 7s on the way to another title

Excuse me while I pick my jaw up off the floor.

4 Months, 3 Weeks ago

George Ford questions referee decision only to get a sarcastic response

I am a ref, but I'm not clever enough to come up with Carley's kind of response off the cuff...I tend to take what I have now dubbed the "stroudos-lite" approach: I'd tell him that I made the call, and should he choose to challenge like that again I would penalize him. With the guys I have the pleasure of refereeing, that's usually enough but the few times that someone continues to argue, I go "full-stroudos". I have no qualms following through on a promise to penalize!

5 Months, 4 Weeks ago

George Ford questions referee decision only to get a sarcastic response

Except Ford didn't "ask" the ref anything - He went up and told the ref "my hands were there". A proper, respectful way of asking would start with an apology for flailing his arms around and reacting poorly to a call, then be followed up with something with containing a question mark and a please, eg: "Sorry sir, I got frustrated. Could you please let me know why you ruled that pass forward? I thought I had released it backwards".

Of course, for something as simple and straightforward as a forward pass, there's no point even asking, because the ref will just tell you he saw you throw the ball forward - even if he uses more words. I could justify asking for a law interpretation after a breakdown penalty or something that actually requires clarification, but after a forward pass or a knock-on there's no value in asking for clarification.

Ford is a professional and should know better.

5 Months, 4 Weeks ago

World Rugby CEO confirms full investigation into Craig Joubert behaviour will take place

Given that CJ was a lot closer and had better line of sight than the ARs, I don't think consulting them would have done a lick of good - they probably didn't see it either.

Joubert gave a penalty because he didn't see it touch the Aussie, and therefore though it was a penalty.

6 Months, 2 Weeks ago

'Penalty was the wrong call' says World Rugby review of Craig Joubert decision

Hi Larry,
The Scot gathering the ball did in fact prevent the Aussies from gaining advantage, even if he released it right after: he's prevented them from playing the ball as they would have it, instead making them play it a second or two later, and from a position that he dictates (and that is less favourable for the Aussies).

As to the Assistant referee debate, it's likely that the Assistant referees missed it too - it was a brief touch and there were bodies in the way, not to mention a decent distance between the sideline and where the play happened.

6 Months, 2 Weeks ago

Alesana Tuilagi banned for 5 weeks for 'kneeing' Japanese tackler

I'm sure the people hired as citing commissioners would love the banning of poor technique, but that was offered as tongue-in-cheek. It did make me think though...

Do we know how citing commissioners are selected and remunerated? Is it a panel of people identified as citing commissioners and paid on a per-match basis, are they contracted on a retainer for the year/event/etc., or do they get paid per ban?

Do they have a set policy or standard under which they observe games?

It seems to me that as long as they have been around, they've been a source of consternation and inconsistency to the rugby community.

6 Months, 3 Weeks ago

Alesana Tuilagi banned for 5 weeks for 'kneeing' Japanese tackler

As a player, I always used to lift my knee up while in the air competing for the high ball. Now it appears that I have been lucky my entire playing career to not get binned, cited, and banned for the few dozen times when my leading knee bumped another player!

And now that I'm a referee, I'm going to be extra careful that no player is permitted to move their knees up and forward while running...such disgraceful and reckless actions are the scourge of the modern game!

In all seriousness, if the Japanese player had tackled properly ("spine in line, bands of steel, and cheek to cheek" as my old coach used to say) then this would all be a non-issue. To my mind, there are two ways to get rid of such poor tackling: either cite the guy for deliberately executing a tackle dangerous to himself (he's got a duty of care to himself, etc.) or just let things like this happen - I'll bet that when the would-be tackler was watching the game tape, he promised himself he would never do that again.

6 Months, 3 Weeks ago