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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.

1 Month, 4 Days 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.

1 Month, 3 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.

2 Months, 2 Days 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.

2 Months, 1 Week 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.

2 Months, 1 Week 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).

2 Months, 2 Weeks ago

England maintain Calcutta Cup winning streak with victory over Scotland

I think Stroudos means competing for the ball after making the tackle. In my playing days (mostly on the wing and at 13) I won quite a few turnovers chasing up kicks or chasing down linebreaks...put in the hit, get to your feet faster than the other guy, and take the ball from him. It's unbelievable how much pressure that can apply (when chasing kicks) or relieve (when defending linebreaks).

2 Months, 3 Weeks ago

New Zealand snatch 7s victory with 8 men on the field

The post-game ruling was that Australia could choose to take a win for that game. Australia declined, because finishing second gave them a better draw for the playoffs - effectively avoiding facing NZ in the semis, and instead meeting them in the final.

2 Months, 3 Weeks ago

Friday Funnies: Awkward RWC 2015 press conference proves Scotland's South African born prop does not play the bagpipes!

Heh. I think the French journalist was trying to wind him up...teasing him a little about the fact that he is playing for Scotland, despite having grown up in South Africa (judging by his accent!).

Does anyone else get the feeling that WP Nel didn't want or was told not to say outright that he was a South African playing for Scotland? The whole "awkwardness" could have been avoided if he had said something like "well I grew up in South Africa, and we never had bagpipes in the stands when I played for school but I can see how the fans in my adopted country might find it upsetting that they can't continue their traditions of playing bagpipes in the stands". Next question.

4 Months, 1 Week ago

Crunching tackle plants fullback into the ground in Florida, USA

The Good-Payne incident (sounds very scientific) is a tricky one indeed - had Payne been competing for the ball, almost any contact and outcome would have been considered an accidental part of aerial rugby. Instead, Payne was surprised by a posterior to the proboscis, and was penalized for taking out Goode's legs in a dangerous way, causing him to land horribly. I personally believe that Garcès got it wrong - there was no attempt to tackle so it can't be a dangerous tackle. If Goode hadn't got to the ball first, it would have landed in Payne's arms, so Payne wasn't acting recklessly. I think that incident was a case of Goode had to go up to make sure that Payne didn't get the ball, and Payne couldn't have gotten far enough to field the ball had he jumped. Both players were heading for the ball, doing their best to field it. Stop the play to deal with the injury, and manage the situation by talking to the captains. No penalty, play continues with a scrum to Saracens.

Good-Payne was a situation where the outcome was dangerous, but the actions weren't illegal per se. I guess the referee decided that Payne running into Goode's lower half could be considered "tapping" the foot or feet. If Goode hadn't jumped, they would have bashed into each other, and the game would have continued. Goode jumped, so I guess the ref decided that Payne had some responsibility to avoid his legs.

I disagree with the referee in the case of Goode-Payne, but that's me. Goode took a risk going up, and it didn't work out for him.

4 Months, 1 Week ago