Whistle Talk Volume 5 Issue 3: More on Dangerous Tackles Law and Clarifications on Touch and Lineout
from David Pue
posted Feb 6 2017
World Rugby has produced some clarifications of the Law 19 trials and new directives to referees concerning Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous Tackling. In Touch
The Law trials for Law 19 (Touch and Lineout) are described in Whistle Talk 5-2
Some video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8vCC27WUNjUasLxP_n09vA
Rugby Canada has compiled a series of clips about touch (and examples of dangerous tackles that are penalty only, yellow cars and red card) https://youtu.be/j8HzsK1BYLo
When Argentina kicks off, the ball crosses the plane of touch. The Australian player leaps and throws the ball back into the field of play. In the video (using old Law) the ball is in touch. By the Law trials, the call will be play on.
World Rugby has now clarified that the Law 19 trials do apply to the in-goal area and the 22m area.
Consider a kicked ball that is caught, before it crosses the goal line, by a player, who is in the in-goal (1 foot or both). Before Jan 1, 2017, the ruling would have been that the kicker caused the ball to go into the in-goal and the restart would have been a 22m dropout. NOW, the Law trials say that the defending player has brought the ball into in-goal and play restarts with a 5m scrum. If the ball is rolling or stationary is no longer important. See the video at https://youtu.be/GtLSsKX0rmY?t=9
The same principle applies if a player who is touch-in-goal (ie a foot on the touch-in-goal or dead ball line) and catches a ball that is still in-goal. The Law trials say that defending player took the ball into touch. This could mean the restart would be just a 22m dropout. If the defender had let the ball cross the plane of the dead-ball or touch-in-goal line, their team could have had a scrum where the ball was kicked. See the video at https://youtu.be/TSCC9iHV7cM
Consider a ball is rolling toward a player’s 22m and the player waiting has a foot on the line or inside the 22m area. If the player catches the ball before it rolls across the 22m line, the player is considered to have brought the ball into the 22m. If the defender kicks the ball into touch, the line-out will be opposite where they kicked it. If the defender lets the ball roll across the plane of the 22m line and kicks the ball into touch, the line-out will be where the ball went into touch.
To see how leaping in the air for the ball that has crossed the plane of the dead-ball or touch-in-goal line, see the video at https://youtu.be/TSCC9iHV7cM
In this clip Blue #6 catches the ball after it crosses the dead ball line but because of his agility, is able to throw the ball back into the in-goal before touching the ground. The ruling is that the ball was never in touch, #6 passed the ball backwards = TRY.
It used to be possible for a player, who is in touch, to reach into the field of play and tap, kick or knock the ball and play continues… ie. they had to be holding the ball to put it in touch. With these trials, this is not possible… the ball would now be considered to be in touch.
We are still waiting for clarification about scoring a try by a player who is in touch. In the old Law a player in touch could reach out and push down on the ball to score a try. World Rugby has to rule on whether that is still legal. Dangerous Tackles Law (10.4 (e))
World Rugby has put out a directive to players, clubs and referees that clarifies how to deal with tackles in which there is contact with the opponent’s head. There is no significant changes to Law 10.4(e) but a change in how high tackles are dealt with. A high tackle is still a high tackle, but the sanctions for a high tackle have been clarified.
High Tackles are now to seen in 2 types: accidental and reckless.
When making contact with another player during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game, if a player makes accidental contact with an opponent’s head, either directly or where the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders, the player MAY be sanctioned. This includes situations where the ball carrier slips into the tackle.
Minimum sanction: Penalty
A player is deemed to have made reckless contact during a tackle or attempted tackle or during other phases of the game if in making contact, the player knew or should have known that there was a risk of making contact with the head of an opponent, but did so anyway. This sanction applies even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. This type of contact also applies to grabbing and rolling/ twisting around the head/ neck area even if the contact starts below the line of the shoulders.
Minimum sanction: Yellow card
Maximum sanction: Red card
Some points about these directives:
- When distinguishing between these types, the intent of the tackler comes into consideration. A reckless tackle is knowingly done. An accidental tackle might be a reflex or clumsy attempt.
- Even if the tackle is considered accidental, referees are directed to penalize the tackler.
- Note: that if a ball carrier slips into a tackle resulting in a high tackle, the tackler is still to be sanctioned… ie. contact to the head is contact to the head. The ball carrier slipping might mean the difference between just a penalty and a card.
- In a reckless tackle, the difference between sanctions (yellow vs red card) is a matter of the force and actions of the tackler. Swinging arm, twisting of the head, violent tackles are to be sanctioned with red cards.
- It is noteworthy, that the wording of World Rugby’s directive includes: “or during other phases of the game”. This means that contact to the head at rucks, mauls, lineouts, etc are to be dealt with in the same spirit as with the tackle. A player who, in a ruck or maul, grabs an opponent around the neck area is at risk of penalty or card.
It is obvious that with the phrase, in the directive; “the player knew or should have known”, it will be up to the referee to make some important judgments. It may take some time for the distinctions between PK, Yellow and Red card to become clear in everyone’s mind. Referees are being told to err on the side of caution. Contact with the head will be sanctioned.
It is also obvious that players and coaches also have a role to play in decreasing contacts to the head. Players may have to stop when attempting a tackle rather than risk contact to the head. Coaches will want to build into their practices drills on safe tackling.
Both groups need to recognize that the contact zone for a tackle has shrunk.
For examples, see the Rugby Canada compilation or these links to video on YouTube https://youtu.be/r8mBk8_JGA8
Will Greenwood gives his opinion of the new direction. https://youtu.be/L2Ztwj0iIq8?t=2
Wayne Barnes discusses some examples.