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Tuesday Oct 18, 2011

What is a Forward Pass?

What is a Forward Pass?
35
Comments

It seems as thought referee controversies at the World Cup are becoming something of the norm, so today we take a closer look at an issue that comes up more often than it should. The forward pass. 

The New Zealand vs France quarter final at the 2007 Rugby World Cup was blighted by a missed call from a referee that, depending on who you speak to, was one of the reasons for the All Blacks’ early exit from the tournament. This weekend, the two sides meet again, in the 2011 final. 

The IRB recently put together a video for their Total Rugby show that aims to explain the forward pass law in a way that all can understand. It’s long over due, and will hopefully clear things up a bit as its one of the areas of the game that is always scrutinised and heavily debated. 

The whole concept is that the ball must travel backwards out of the players hands, but can move forward through the air, due to basic physics. In essence it’s a simple formula to follow, but time and time again we still see it reffed incorrectly as forward passes are missed, or ruled incorrectly. It’s unfortunately still down to referee interpretation on the day, and does look different when watching on TV. 

This video demonstrates how the momentum from the running player carries the ball forward most of the time and shouldn’t be judged as relative to the ground. They have perhaps pushed the theory a little in this example, but the concept stands. Check it out and see what you think.

35 Comments

  •  browner
    browner

    Players are faster than ref's ............. you try keeping up with professional athletes ! these things happen, & are unavoidable unless technology intervenes [ TMO's]

    Reply
  •  browner
    browner

    Talking of Forward Pass's Wayne Barnes appointed to NZ v France on 8/6/13 should stir up a few memories for the French ! Allez le Bleu

    Reply
  •  simmer
    simmer

    The law(12) does say exactly what you've put, but everyone above me seems to agree- its horrible wording, and we swear the intent of the law is about relative motion of the hands doing the passing. I totally agree it would be far easier for everyone to be able to judge using the lines on the field... But it doesn't work that way, you can't pass like that without changing the look of the game and a rugby pass. At least when the players are running (go out and try passing it not forward whilst running). The backwards running thing is a fun point. In reality I think referees 90% of the time follow the intent of the game, if not the law, which is that we dont want to see a player passing the ball to someone in front of him, and we dont want to see his hands direct it forward like a knock-on. (10% of the time, when a tackle or the opposition 22 line makes a pass look forward, they change their ruling i think)

    Reply
  •  simmer
    simmer

    Oh I love talking about the forward pass rule... I think that only Mezza and Nemo34 have made incorrect statements above. But I also think that the IRB rule is written too concisely, so that it is not clear enough. only when you think about the motion of the player's hands can you understand. People who don't get it, after seeing the video, need to go out and play some rugby - well, do some passing drills. Jog up the field, and pass it to your mate. Then run up the field at full pace and pass it to your mate. Try to observe that relative the ground, the ball is going to travel forward. Its really bloody hard to make the ball travel backwards when running at full pace, which is why the rule doesn't require it. The only problem is when someone is tackled just after passing the ball, then it looks soo forward. Commentator replay systems should have a feature that allows you to imagine the player motion as if they ran on unimpeded - that would make it pretty clear to spectators I think. (once they started to believe the interpretation of the law)

    Reply
  •  krang
    krang

    Nice one. Got a link?

    Reply
  •  nemo34
    nemo34

    I am quite skeptical. The video may have been developed by IRB, but I contest the voiced comments are relevant. IRB regulation is quite straightforward: a forward pass is a pass that sends the ball toward the opposing tryline. No relative movement is anywhere part of the code of law. Jauzion's forward pass to Michalak has been quite legendary in France for the last 4 years, as are the 17 unnoticed penalties and Dusautoir 35 (or was it 38?) tackles that day. nd of course the surprizing stubbordness of the All-Greys who would have won with an easy dropgoal.

    Reply
  •  pirtes
    pirtes

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RgMlDy2jP9s this is what you mean. same vid, slower pace.

    Reply
  •  nemeketh
    nemeketh

    Are they trying to justify the so called "forward pass of Michalak" at the end of the video, or I'm wrong ?

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    That might sound like a noble and decent thing to say, but on reflection it's probably that attitude which has led to Rugby being a sporting joke for the sub-standard refereeing at even the highest levels. Referees need to be criticised and brought to account for their failures. Their incompetence is ruining the game.

    Reply
  •  thegaffer89
    thegaffer89

    Excellent work BuzzKillington. Everything you have said is correct and fairly easy to understand. I have tried to get RD to put that original youtube video up before because it makes it clear for everyone. Good work RD!

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1mvN6lU0oU

    Reply
  •  stroudos
    stroudos

    I clicked straight into the comments before watching the video, expecting a load of posts going either "aha, I finally get it" or "thank God they've finally cleared that up" etc. I was incredulous to see the same old arguments being regurgitated again. Found myself thinking how can these people still argue the point when faced with clear evidence to the contrary!? But I have to say, watching the video again, it could really have been presented a lot more clearly! For a start, it should begin by simply stating the law, instead of asking questions and planting doubt in the viewer's mind. The "question & answer" mechanism can be a very effective learning/communication tool, but when you're trying to present something as fact, I think this type of deliberate ambiguity is best avoided. Also, it should state which of the passes in the actual game footage would be correctly judged forward or not - or is the whole point that they're all in actual fact OK? Because otherwise I would argue that RWC07 pass from Traille to Michalak was unmistakably forward - and I speak as someone who usually claims to understand fully the effect of momentum and the visual confusion that causes these debates. But in this case, regardless of where the ball ends up (which hopefully everyone can appreciate is actually irrelevant), the ball leaves Traille's hands in a forward direction, his hands and arms are moving forward and Michalak is at least level with (if not ahead of) Traille when he starts to makes the pass. All the other real match examples I would suggest are OK, but for clarity this video should confirm one way or the other. Finally I'm not convinced the overhead pass is a legitimate pass! The throwing action is forward; the ball only ends up behind him because he's running faster than the speed at which he's propelled the ball forward. A very bad example, in my opinion.

    Reply
  •  tccalvin
    tccalvin

    I hope the IRB introduces red cards for forward passes quickly. It's been going on for long enough.

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    It's a new video James, but the idea has been done before and filmed in similar fashion by the ARU I think. They're definitely different videos with different examples and footage though.

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    http://www.rugbyrefs.com/showthread.php?11302-Forward-Passes Here is a very large discussion on a rugby referee forum. There's some difference in opinions but worth reading non the less.

    Reply
  •  mezza1982
    mezza1982

    That's fair enough and I think in that case they should amend the law. Rugby is a hugely non-inclusive game - by that I mean that for a first time watcher, it is nearly impossible to understand. The IRB have tried to change that over the years so that it becomes more entertaining meaning that you don't necessarily need a large background knowledge to watch the game, as long as people are smashing into each other at speed and running down the wing, you'll enjoy it. Grey areas like this only add to confusion for potential new fans. I don't care whether they decide that this passing issue is acceptable or not, but it needs to be clear. In the case of Sam Warburton at the weekend, the law and guidelines are clear and at least they had that to refer to to clear up any ambiguity or abuse for Rolland. Whether the law / guidelines are right or not is up for debate, but the referees need much clearer and stricter rules to operate under so that the players decide the outcome, not the referees. Rant over

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    "Definition: Throw Forward A throw forward occurs when a player throws or? passes the ball forward. 'Forward' means towards the opposing team's dead ball line." Where the ball travels is irrelevant to the rule, clearly.

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    You are right Mezza and I apologise for getting catty, it's obvious our disagreement is on semantics and not physics. But I have to disagree with you still, it doesn't say what you're claiming, Mezza. It says a pass towards the goal line is forward, it says nothing about the ball traveling towards the goal line. This video is from the IRB, it's on the IRB website and the IRB Youtube channel. If you Email the IRB they will clarify for you and confirm that the ball can indeed travel forward relative to the goal line, so long as the pass isn't thrown from the hands in a forward direction. You may not like it, but that is the official IRB position.

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    The NRL in Australia are already looking into GPS technology to track forward passes. It's really not difficult to judge, you simply need to measure Initial location, End location, Initial velocity and Final velocity. GPS tech might take a few more years to get accurate enough, but it's something the IRB should also look into.

    Reply
  •  mezza1982
    mezza1982

    You're talking about wind which is different to air resistance. Air resistance is just the force of air on an object trying to travel through it. Wind is air moving from high pressure to low pressure. So I wasn't wrong at all. You think the wind is always travelling forwards in the same direction as the player running??? Of course wind is always the reason for forward high passes. Come on, mate. This video was not made my the IRB, it was made by Total Rugby which is an IRB affiliated programme. All IRB law videos have the IRB logo running throughout the programme. "All that matters is the direction in which the ball leaves your hands". Agreed - relative to the goal line, not the player. Otherwise it would say so in the law. The IRB are quite clear on this.

    Reply
  •  mezza1982
    mezza1982

    That's simple Einstein and that is a good explanation, but the law makes no mention of relative to the player (or train!). It simply says towards the goal line is forward. If there is a bridge that the train is travelling towards, you are still jumping forward relative to it. There is no grey area. The direction of travel of the player / train is irrelevant. That's why the fixed point of the goal line is used as the reference point in the law explanation.

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    Sorry Einstein I was responding to Mezza with my last post.

    Reply
  •  mezza1982
    mezza1982

    Which part of "towards the goal line" are you struggling to read? Where the ball travels relative to the player or not, it still is travelling towards the goal line therefore by definition making it forward. End of story. Your argument is that if they were all given as forward lots of good tries would not be allowed. That is almost certainly true, but that is not the point I was making. I don't think that every pass that travels forward should be blown, that would be nonsense - just as any player who doesn't roll away "immediately" or release the ball "immediately" at the tackle shouldn't be penalised. It's up to the referee to judge whether the player or team gained an unfair advantage from that particular act. Let's also not forget that at the top level rugby is not a sport it is an entertainment business where all that is important is getting bums on seats. Therefore, they are usually happy to allow play to go on when it's marginally forward. That's fine, but that doesn't make this video's content correct. Please also explain the difference between passed forward and travelled forward remembering the definition of the word. The only way it can work with your interpretation is that the ball initially travels away from the opponents goal line as it leaves the passers hands (passed backwards) and then curves in the air to travel forwards. What is the force acting on the ball to make this direction change? The only force is the air resistance which would only slow the ball, not change it's direction. Therefore, what you said, about there being a difference between passed forwards and travel forwards is complete nonsense and against the laws of Physics. The IRB do not want grey area in the laws, hence all the ELV's over the years. They are trying to reduce referee influence in scorelines. That is why this law is so simple, it is baffling that you cannot comprehend it.

    Reply
  •  rugbydump
    rugbydump

    Not on here please, go easy. Get your points across but lets make an effort to keep it mutually respectful. That goes for everyone. Cheers

    Reply
  •  rugbydump
    rugbydump

    The video was produced last month, by the IRB.

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    Also I think there is room for some rudeness and hostility to people like John who create lies to deceive other members. I am not going to be polite to people who peddle lies.

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    This video was made by the IRB, Mezza. The rule obviously isn't clear enough for people who cannot read, and the IRB felt it necessary to elaborate and clear up the misunderstanding for people like yourself. Quite clearly the law says that the ball cannot be passed forward, not that the ball cannot travel forward. No where in the rules does it say the ball cannot travel forward relative to where it was thrown - If it does, then the rules are still bunk as the IRB clearly hold a different view in 2011. If the ball is thrown in a direction that is flat or backwards, that is legal, no matter if it travels 20 foot forward. This is not me saying it - I am repeating the official line from the International Rugby Board, who make the rules and police the game. If you and John were in charge of the game then about 40% of passes would be called forward and people would come to a complete stand-still before passing so to avoid being pinged. After all, it's near impossible to throw anything other than a forward pass while moving at speed, by your interpretation. In fact, all the great team tries - Okay, 80% of them - are technically illegal, if we play by your rules.

    Reply
  •  mezza1982
    mezza1982

    I don't agree with you Buzz and there's no need for your rudeness. The law is clear and people think they know how to interpret it when they don't. You can't seriously think that just because the ball was passed backwards in relation to the player that means it hasn't contravened the law? The law is simple for a reason to avoid confusing bull like this video. But hey BuzzKillington says otherwise so it must be true - idiot

    Reply
  •  buzzkillington
    buzzkillington

    What on earth are you talking about? Rugby League follows the same laws as in the video posted. The rule in Rugby League is clear - If you pass it flat or backwards, regardless of how the ball travels after it leaves your hands, it is legal. There is nothing confusing or difficult about it. It's Rugby - where the referees are incompetent and the supposedly intelligent fans cannot grasp basic physics - that has huge problems with the forward pass rule. You also don't have a clue what you're talking about. It seems you're confusing yourself by being unable to read. You say, "The Law states that the ball must not be passed forward and forward is defined in the laws of the game as 'towards the opponents dead ball line'" - Ergo, the ball must not be passed towards the opponents dead ball line. Well, that's exactly what the video RD posted is saying. The ball can TRAVEL where ever it likes, but it cannot be passed forward. The difference between passing a ball forward and a ball traveling forward is quite significant. I could lend you a dictionary if you're struggling with some of the language, however. But there you go people, John says it so it must be true. If you throw a ball backwards over your head that's actually a forward pass, because RD User John says so.

    Reply
  •  cheyanqui
    cheyanqui

    There was a video done by the Australia Rugby Union many years back (sounded like the 1990s, judging by the background music -- sounded like ESPN's "Bodyshaping" or "Fitness Beach"). This video is indeed updated, but essentially follows the same format.

    Reply
  •  gar1990
    gar1990

    just wondering, if this video has been around for years, how is there footage from New Zeland Vs Australia from the 2011 tri nations in it?

    Reply
  •  rich_w
    rich_w

    The whole point of the video is that the confusion derives from how you define 'backwards'.

    Reply
  •  stefan
    stefan

    Nothing mentioned in the video about strong winds? At grassroots levels like the game I was at today, high winds are very common as the pitch is completely unsheltered (unlike the venues of most professional matches). Does the decision still only matter on the passer's mechanics or does this have to be compensated for by the players? - as must be done when throwing into the lineout on a windy day.

    Reply
  •  guy
    guy

    That is exactly the time discussion occurs: when the player is tackled in the split second after he threw the ball. The way things are at the moment, I can see referees getting crucified, quartered and burned for not calling a forward pass even at the highest level. A lot of times the touch judge is involved in these calls too. I really wonder if there is a guideline on this subject for referees. The science part of it is quite clear in this video though.

    Reply
  •  rugbysam
    rugbysam

    At the lower levels I could see a ref in hostile territory getting into deep water for not calling a forward pass when the passer is stopped by a tackler. Mind F!!!

    Reply

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