Law discussion: Try & penalty
rugby365's law guru Paul Dobson looks at how a referee dealt with foul play, when the try was allowed to stand, but the other team got a penalty.
The Reds play the Rebels, and there is an angry moment which the referee and the TMO deal with.
The TMO and the referee decide that the Rebels are guilty of a trip by Cadeym Neville on Saia Faingaa. Quade Cooper kicks out just over five metres from the Rebels' line.
The Reds put 13 players into the line-out. Saia Faingaa throws to James Horwill and the Reds form a massive maul. They get it going and it goes over the line where Jake Schatz falls to ground for the try. Gareth Delve falls on Schatz who gets cross with Delve and fighting of a sort breaks out.
The only obvious punch throwing in the heaving mass is thrown by Saia Faingaa on Beau Robinson.
The referee consults the TMO about possible foul play in the fight, as he had done in the case of Neville's trip. The TMO reports Faingaa for punching.
The try stands, Quade Cooper converts and then the referee penalises Saia Faingaa at the middle of the half-way line.
There is no need to nullify the try as there was no infringement up to the time that the try was scored. The foul play came after the try was scored, that is when the ball was dead.
There is principle for the treatment of foul play when play is dead - there will be a penalty where play would next start. In this case that would be with a kick-off on the half-way line. That is where the referee - correctly - awards the penalty.
If the Rebels had been guilty, the referee would have penalised them.
If the ball had next come into play at a five-metre scrum, that is where the penalty would have been.
If the ball would next have come into play with a drop-out, the penalty would have been anywhere along the 22 at the choice of the non-offending team.
Law 10.4 (a) Misconduct while the ball is out of play. A player, must not, while the ball is out of play, commit any misconduct, or obstruct or in any way interfere with an opponent.
Sanction: Penalty kick
The sanction is the same as for sections 10.4 (a)-(m) except that the penalty kick is awarded at the place where play would restart. If that place is on the touchline or within 15 metres of it, the mark for the penalty kick is on the 15-metre line, in line with that place.
The subsequent treatment of Saia Faingaa is interesting.
In the match between the Highlanders and the Blues Jamie Mackintosh reacted to a roughing up by Keven Mealamu by shoving his elbow back into Mealamu. Mackintosh was sin-binned. It looked a less malicious act than Saia Faingaa who barely got a ticking off.
In the Barbarians-B&I Lions match in Hong Kong, Schalk Brits had his jersey held against his will., He retaliated by punching Owen Farrell. Farrell retaliated by punching Brits to the ground. Brits was sent to the sin bin, Farrell not.
In the Reds-Rebels match Beau Robinson was being held by Scott Fuglistaller at an attacking scrum for the Reds and punched Fuglistaller. Robinson was sent to the sin bin.
Law 10.4 (l) Retaliation. A player must not retaliate. Even if an opponent is infringing the Laws, a player must not do anything that is dangerous to the opponent.
Sanction: Penalty kick
Saia Faingaa did not have the excuse of retaliation for something done to him.
The Laws do try to make the punishment fit the crime. Holding onto an opponent in this way is wrong but unlikely to do the same damage as a punch.
There is no hard-and-fast rule about how a referee should deal with acts of foul play. It is up to him to judge each one on its merits - or demerits. In the Faingaa case the referee told Delve, the Rebels' captain, that the Faingaa incident was 'nothing like the other one'.