22 Nov 2018
With the score 0-0, Jayden Hayward of Italy kicks out for a line-out to Australia about eight metres inside the Australian half on Australia's left.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
Folau Fainga’a, the Australian hooker, throws into the line-out. Lock Izack Rodda leaps high for the ball and immediately turns the ball down to his scrumhalf Jake Gordon.
Gordon passes a long pass to his right, intended for Matt Toomua. But Tito Tebaldi, Italy's scrumhalf, darts forward and with one hand pulls the ball to himself. He swerves past Marika Koroibete of Australia on a 42-metre run to the posts.
On his way there, the referee sounds his whistle but Tebaldi dives over and is mobbed by delighted team-mates. Their delight is short-lived when they realise that the referee has penalised Tebaldi.
Replays show first the forming of the line-out. Tebaldi is Italy's receiver and stands towards the 15-metre line.
Law 18.16 If a team elects to have a receiver, the receiver stands between the five-metre and the 15-metre lines, two metres away from their [sic] team-mates in the line-out. Each team may have only one receiver. Sanction: Free-kick
The position Tebaldi takes up is legal, provided that he does not cross the 15-metre line.
Tebaldi must stay within that 5-15-metre area from the time the line-out starts till it ends.
It would not matter if Tebaldi was further in-field than the player at the back of the formed line-out - provided that he was within the 15-metre line.
Law 18.25 The line-out commences once the ball leaves the hands of the thrower.
Law 18.36 The line-out ends when:
a. The ball or a player in possession of the ball:
i. leaves the line-out
It would seem that Tebaldi does not move till after Rodda plays the ball towards Gordon.
Why could he be penalised?
A little after the initial replays, there is a stoppage in play at about 15.0 in the half and during the stoppage, there is a replay of the Tebaldi no-try filmed from behind the Australian goal-line.
It appears to show that when Tebaldi was positioned at the 15-metre line, his left foot was over the line. That suggests that he was not "between the five-metre and the 15-metre lines". If he is not between those lines but over the 15-metre line he is infringing. But the sanction for that is a free kick.
The still taken from that replay, suggests that Tebaldi is on, but not over, the 15-metre line. Are we to take on as not between? It's all too tight.
If Tebaldi started moving further in-field than the 15-metre line after Rodda had deflected the ball to Gordon, he was entitled to do so as the line-out was over.
When Gordon passed the ball, the Australian backs were within 10 metres of their line-out, which confirms that the line-out was over.
The referee is not in the best position at this line-out to monitor Tebaldi's movements. He takes up a position at the front of the line-out on the Australia side.
When the line-out starts, the referee is at the touchline. He does run quickly at the throw-in but is still not in a good position to judge that Tebaldi was "clearly and obviously" infringing in his movement to intercept the ball.
There are too many players between him, and Tebaldi and he does not have the best angle to judge where Tebaldi is in relation to the 15-metre line.
He could have let Tebaldi "score" and then consulted the TMO about the legality of his [Tebaldi's] movements prior to the interception. But then referees are being encouraged to make on-field decisions themselves.
If the Italians were victims of November confusion, it is sad for a country trying so very hard.