Law discussion: holding vs unbroken contact

Tue, 02 Aug 2016 12:08
Large alain rolland 800

Last Wednesday there was a meeting of Currie Cup coaches and referees in Stellenbosch.

Part of the course was a presentation by Alain Rolland, World Rugby's referee manager, on TMO decision-making, which provoked lively debate.

One incident was the try awarded to the Stormers, scored by Dyllon Leyds in the right corner. See:

The try was awarded in accordance with the practice of that time, which was an interpretation that if there was unbroken contact between the ball and the player's hand or arm a try could be awarded even if the ball was no longer in the player's grasp.

Interpretations of rugby law are bad things. The referee should work on application, not interpretation.

There are two ways a player can ground the ball:
(a) Player touches the ground with the ball. A player grounds the ball by holding the ball and touching the ground with it, in in-goal. ‘Holding’ means holding in the hand or hands, or in the arm or arms. No downward pressure is required.


That means grasping the ball with hand or arm.

If the back of the hand is touching the ball, it is not holding it.
If the back of the wrist or the back of the arm is touching the ball, it is not holding it.

It was decided at the meeting that holding would be what it says - with hand (front of, not back) and arms.

This is an application of law.
There is no need to talk of control; 'holding' is good enough.