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All Black legend Mils Muliaina scores first try in USA Pro Rugby with first touch

5 teams makes sense to start - the player pool available to the league right now isn't as deep as in the rugby strongholds of the world. If you had 10 team right off the bat, you run the risk of having players on the field that aren't up to the level needed to catch and hold the public's interest. By phasing teams in slowly, you can develop that talent pool gradually - all while minimizing the financial requirements of the league until it can prove the business model works.

Having most teams in the west isn't too much of a problem for now - we here in North America have been looking forward to our own pro league for so long that many of us are adopting teams that have nothing to do with where we live. I'm in Montreal, but I support the San Diego team. Here's hoping that eventually there's a pro team somewhere within a few hours of my city! Until that time, up San Diego!

2 Weeks, 4 Days ago

England beat Wales in tour warmup match at Twickenham

Wrong. It is physically possible, and it happened - it's pretty clear from the overhead cam, if not before.

1 - Ball is thrown at an angle backwards towards the Welsh goal line
2 - Ball encounters large English hand between point of origin and the intended target
3 - Force from original pass causes ball to rebound in a direction roughly opposite the original direction of travel

If you want, I can go into how the angle of the hand and the angular velocity of the ball can cause the rebound to go backwards, but I figured the less technical explanation above would be ample rebuttal to your point!

3 Weeks, 4 Days ago

Scotland go into Beast mode with gymnastics flip ahead of Olympic 7s

Kudos to South Africa for waiting for the Scottish player to land safely before making contact.

1 Month, 2 Days ago

Morgan Parra prevents try brilliantly by punching ball out of attacker's hands

The knock-on was from Parra to the ground. The player who first picked up the ball reacted fast enough and was flat enough that you'd have a hard time calling it deliberately off-side (he probably thought he was behind the ball when it was knocked on). It's marginally offside at best, and not deliberately, and there were no Stade Francais players that could have realistically scored a try immediately, so scrum five to Stade is the sensible call here.

1 Month, 2 Days ago

Friday Funnies - That time the referee pushed Greig Laidlaw

As a referee, I have used a push or tug on the shoulder to de-escalate a situation. I started as an ice hockey referee and linesman, so learned some useful techniques to do it safely (linesmen are expected to break up fights and pull apart combatants). When I started refereeing rugby, I was able to transfer those skills.

Essentially, you have to judge a situation - a lot of the time tension escalates because everyone is in each other's face and no-one wants to be the first to back down. In that sort of situation, it can be useful to identify a "leader" and get them out of the situation with a firm push or pull on the jersey (yappy halfbacks are generally an excellent choice, as are hulking but respectful members of the tight five). Generally, once the group sees the referee separating out one of the problems, the rest will go about their way and get on with the business of playing rugby.

The biggest piece of advice I can offer to anyone who might be shoving someone from the front is to remain calm and to make eye contact while firmly pushing them away.

2 Months, 4 Weeks ago

Toulouse miss out on win due to casual conversion from directly in front

"The player who actually blocks the kick has a foot on the goal line when the kicker starts his run up, and thus is perfectly legal."

Actually, it's not! Law 9.B.4 :"All players of the opposing team must retire to their goal line and must not overstep that line until the kicker begins the approach to kick or starts to kick."

I do agree with your assessment about the decision being fair and credible - I don't think the small step over the line is material in this case.

3 Months, 2 Weeks ago

Wales win comfortably in Cardiff clash with France

Except as referees, we are taught that a series of infringements in "the red zone" can be grounds for carding, regardless of repetition of a given offence or the same player infringing multiple times. If you feel there is a pattern of cynically breaking the laws in order to stop a team from scoring, you can certainly card someone...typically it's the next bloke that infringes after you have a stern chat with the captain.

3 Months, 3 Weeks ago

Manu Tuilagi penalised for big shoulder on Winston Stanley

im: there's nothing wrong with a bit of pushing - however, you'd be hard pressed to argue that Tuilagi didn't "knock down" Stanley...

The law doesn't say you can't push; it DOES say you can't knock someone down without trying to hold on to them.

4 Months, 3 Days ago

Manu Tuilagi penalised for big shoulder on Winston Stanley

I think JP Doyle made a good call here. Let's look at the law book, then I'll offer an interpretation of the spirit of the law (not just the letter thereof).

There is no reference to "shoulder charge" in the law book, so whether or not contact was made with the shoulder or the chest is irrelevant. The law that applies is 10.4 (g):

"Dangerous charging. A player must not charge or knock down an opponent carrying the ball without trying to grasp that player."

If you look at the video, you'll notice Tuilagi wraps (more or less) with his arm. "Aha," you say, "he's attempted to grasp the player!"; however, in watching the video you can also clearly see him pushing Stanley with his left arm.

I ask you this: last time you tried to grasp something, did you also push that thing away from you? No. The two actions are opposed to each other. I strongly suspect that Tuilagi REALLY wanted to smash Stanley into touch; he realized that if he were to barge in and give him an almighty shove, he'd be penalized - instead, he throws his right arm up in a half-hearted attempt to wrap in order to cover up the push he is simultaneously administering with his left arm and chest.

Whether JP Doyle saw that and made the call or whether he just accidentally got the call right, the spirit of the law has been upheld.

4 Months, 3 Days ago

Jamie Roberts knocks out Blair Cowan with big tackle in Six Nations thriller

I agree with you on this one, stroudos. The law about dangerous tackles says "A player must not tackle (or try to tackle) an opponent above the line of the shoulders even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders. A tackle around the opponent’s neck or head is dangerous play."

To me, Jamie Roberts made contact above the line of the shoulders (albeit with his head). You can argue that the main part of the tackle was legal, and the clash of heads unfortunate but that's not good enough - it's not that different from sliding your shoulder up into his head by accident, or putting out your arm just as someone is running by. I'm sure it was an accident, but Jamie Roberts adopted a body position that put him at a much greater risk of making contact with the head area.

If he's going to do that, he needs to take extra care to avoid the head clash (like tackle with the other shoulder, but maybe they don't teach that any more).

4 Months, 1 Week ago