25 Nov 2012
It was a try. The referee awarded the try and the referee is 'the sole judge of fact and Law during a match'. But was his judgement right.
He did take advice from the TMO whose scripted advice was: 'You may award the try.'
But should it have been awarded? Was the judgement right? Was the Law correctly applied? It is an interesting situation.
The Springboks have a five-metre line-out. They look to set a maul on Eben Etzebeth but England repulse it. The Springboks bash and then look to go wide. Ruan Pienaar passes to Juandré Kruger who goes into the tackle but loses the ball backwards. Ben Youngs of England kicks the ball but straight onto JP Pietersen. The ball ricochets off Pietersen and flies forward through the air towards the England goal-line. Tom Wood of England puts up a hand to the ball but does not catch it. He knocks the ball forward into Willem Alberts's grasp, and the big flank plunges over for a try.
The distances may be relevant. Kruger loses the ball backwards before making contact just over five metres from the England line. The ball goes back and is about seven metres from the line when Youngs kicks it. He kicks it upwards and it strikes Petersen above the knee. It flies forward. Wood, who had been involved at defence near the England line, tries to play the ball. He is then about a metre from the England line. Vermeulen, who had been involved in the attack on the England line, is about a metre further infield from Morgan.
The try took the score to 16-6, just enough for the Springboks to win by one point.
Was Alberts offside?
Law 11 – DEFINITIONS
In general play a player is offside if the player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball, or in front of a team-mate who last played the ball. Offside means that a player is temporarily out of the game. Such players are liable to be penalised if they take part in the game.
The ball was last played by Wood, an opponent.
Alberts was well in front of Pietersen when Pietersen played the ball but then Wood played it.
Did Morgan's action put Alberts onside?
Law 11.3 BEING PUT ONSIDE BY OPPONENTS
In general play, there are three ways by which an offside player can be put onside by an action of the opposing team. These three ways do not apply to a player who is offside under the 10-Metre Law.
(a) Runs 5 metres with ball. When an opponent carrying the ball runs 5 metres, the offside player is put onside.
(b) Kicks or passes. When an opponent kicks or passes the ball, the offside player is put onside.
(c) Intentionally touches ball. When an opponent intentionally touches the ball but does not catch it, the offside player is put onside.
Wood intentionally touched the ball.
But then there is this 'under the 10-Metre Law' thing.
Law 11.4 OFFSIDE UNDER THE 10-METRE LAW
(a) When a team-mate of an offside player has kicked ahead, the offside player is considered to be taking part in the game if the player is in front of an imaginary line across the field which is 10 metres from the opponent waiting to play the ball, or from where the ball lands or may land. The offside player must immediately move behind the imaginary 10-metre line or the kicker if this is closer than 10 metres. While moving away, the player must not obstruct an opponent.
Sanction: Penalty kick
The 10-metre law is only from a kick. There is an obvious question here: did Pietersen kick the ball?
Kick: a kick is made by hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, and from knee to toe, but not including the knee. A kick must move a visible distance out of the hand.
First, it seemed that the ball hit Pietersen, rather than vice versa. Secondly, it hit him above the knee. That means that he did not kick the ball at all.
Pietrersen did not kick the ball. Wood played the ball
From this it would seem that the it was the correct decision to award the try.
But, be fair, it is a lot of information for the referee and his helpers to process.