Law Discussion: Rebels try no bonus

Fri, 02 May 2014 18:24
Large sean mcmahon   pat leafa ce

It sounds a silly question. But is touching your boot to a ball a kick? rugby365 law guru Paul Dobson discusses a contentious Rebels try.

It sounds a silly question. But is touching your boot to a ball a kick?

In the second half of the match between the Rebels and the Sharks in Melbourne, the Rebels were on the attack and the Sharks were penalised five metres from their line. It was a penalty.

There was an emotional moment of trivial action when Nic Stirzaker, the Rebels' scrumhalf, went eagerly after the ball and there was some innocuous shoving. The referee nonetheless saw fit to tell both captains that their players should stop when the whistle went. Bismarck du Plessis asked if he could tell his players, which he did, gathering them about him.

When he was finished and his players were getting into positions, Bryce Hegarty, the Rebels' flyhalf, passed the ball to Pat Leafa on his left and the player forced his way past Odwa Ndungane to score in the left corner, whence Jason Woodward converted.

With 11 minutes to play, the score was then 22-16 in the Sharks' favour, which is how it ended despite a mighty Rebels' effort to win the match, which this try made possible for them.

It was a penalty. The Rebels had two options of how to bring the ball into play. They could kick it or set a scrum.

(a) Scrum alternative. A team awarded a penalty or free kick may choose a scrum instead. They throw in the ball.

Nowadays, if the infringement had been in a line-out, the non-offending team can opt for a line-out but there was no line-out here and the Rebels did not opt for a scrum.

That meant they needed to kick the ball.

(d) A clear kick. The kicker must kick the ball a visible distance. If the kicker is holding it, it must clearly leave the hands. If it is on the ground, it must clearly leave the mark.
Sanction Any infringement by the kicker’s team results in a scrum at the mark. The opposing team throws in the ball.

That is not what Hegarty did. He lifted his foot to touch the ball with it.The ball stayed in his grasp. It did not leave his hands.  It was not what the law required and in fact not a kick.

Kick: a kick is made by hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, and from knee to toe, but not including the knee. A kick must move a visible distance out of the hand.

Because Hegarty did not kick the ball but passed it, he infringed the law governing a kick. The sanction for that should have been a scrum to the Sharks.

It would also have been prudent of the referee to ensure that the Sharks were ready to defend.

The 'try' did not deserve a bonus point in the competition!