Law discussion: Throwing the ball away

Wed, 02 Nov 2016 09:31
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EXCLUSIVE: rugby365 law guru Paul Dobson looks a silly mistake that cost a team a famous victory.

Expensive inexperience? Throwing the ball over the dead-ball line, costs La Rochelle the match.

La Rochelle play Montpellier in Altrad Stadium, Montpellier's home ground. La Rochelle, who scored the only try of the match, are leading 11-9 and the clock has gone beyond 80 minutes when La Rochelle are penalised and Frans Steyn, the Montpellier flyhalf, lines up a kick at goal.

It's a long kick - on the half-way line and at an angle. The kick flies high, dips and hits the padding on the upright. From there the ball bounces into the field of play where Brock James of La Rochelle, running back, grabs it. He is still running back over the goal-line when Jesse Mogg of Montpellier grabs him, and James loses the ball backwardsin in-goal, where young (20) Charles Bouldoire, the talented La Rochelle fullback, picks up the bouncing ball and then like a scrumhalf dives to throw it over the dead-ball line.

It is now well past 81 minutes on the clock.

The referee consults his assistant and the TMO. There are several replays, possibly to see of Bouldoire grounded the ball before throwing it over the dead-ball line. Eventually they decide that he did not and the referee explains this to the two captains, Fulgence Ouedraogo and Jason Eaton, and penalises La Rochelle at the middle of their 22-metre line.

In olden times it was lawful to throw the ball over the dead-ball or the touch-in-goal line but in 1983 that changed, and that was 13 years before Bouldoire was born. It seems that Montpellier players knew this as they tried to put pressure on the referee to act against Bouldoire, which is not the way rugby players should act.

The referee then penalised Bouldoire on the 22.

Right?

Not altogether.

Law 10.2 (c) Throwing into touch. A player must not intentionally knock, place, push or throw the ball with his arm or hand into touch, touch-in-goal, or over the dead ball line.
Sanction: Penalty kick on the 15-metre line if the offence is between the 15-metre line and the touchline, or, at the place of infringement if the offence occurred elsewhere in the field of play, or, 5 metres from the goal-line and at least 15 metres from the touchline if the infringement occurred in in-goal.

A penalty try must be awarded if the offence prevents a try that would probably otherwise have been scored.

5 metres from the goal-line

The penalty should have been five metres from the La Rochelle goal-line, which could be a significant difference, though here it was not, as Ben Botica goaled the kick and Montpellier won 12-11.

If Bouldoire had fallen on the ball and thereby made it dead, the match would have been over and La Rochelle would have won, as time was up when the ball went into in-goal.

By Paul Dobson
@rugby365com