15 Feb 2020
It is 26 minutes into the match between England and Scotland in windy Edinburgh. Scotland are penalised and Owen Farrell kicks at goal.
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
The kick is off target and lands in the Scotland in-goal where Stuart Hogg, Scotland's captain, catches the ball and dots down. The referee orders the drop-out and Hogg runs up to the 22-metre line and kicks a powerful drop kick down field. The ball lands inside the England 22 and rolls till it crosses the England goal-line.
George Ford of England watches the ball over the goal-line and into in-goal where he immediately grounds it.
The referee orders a drop-out to England, and Ford goes up to his 22 to drop-out.
Is that right?
Law 12.17 If a 22-metre drop-out reaches the opponents’ in-goal without touching any player and an opponent grounds the ball without delay or it goes into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead-ball line, the non-kicking team has the option of having the kick retaken or a scrum.
Where would the scrum part of the option take place?
Infringement: An incorrect kick-off or restart kick (scrum option).
Place of scrum: At the middle point of the half-way line or 22-metre line if the restart kick was a 22 drop-out.
Who throws in: The non-kicking team.
It would seem that England was not given an option here. They would surely have chosen a scrum on the Scottish 22 rather than dropping out to Scotland from their own 22.
This is clearly a refereeing error by a referee who was one of the 12 referees appointed to the 2019 World Cup. A referee at that level should not be making an error in law. It is interesting that there was no complaint about the refereeing error. In fact a television commentator said, as Ford grounded the ball: "It's going to be a 22-metre drop-out for England."
It seems that it could well be true that referees get more flak when they are right than when they are wrong!