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Preventing an advantage

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South Africa loves to braai and most of the times good rugby debates rises from them. Here is one such question sent by Johann Louw and answered by Jaco Peyper, who is working hard to prepare for the upcoming rugby calendar.

Johann Louw: Good afternoon, just a question. Should we not consider the option of penalising players who deliberately prevents a team from using their advantage, example clip of a Crusader player preventing a Highlander player from getting to the ball after he knocks on. It’s clear the crusader player knew he knocked on and he purposely dived onto the ball to prevent the Highlanders gaining an advantage from his mistake.

Good question!

When advantage is played a team may only prevent that through legal means (i.e. from onside and within all relevant laws at the phase)

In this particular clip the Crusaders player knocks the ball = Scrum infringement. He is however entitled to prevent advantage legally.

1. he is onside
2. its general play – so he may continue to play and collect or dive on ball.
3. however – he may not hold onto possession when he is on the ground, with a legal opposition player ready to take the ball off him. So, if you’re judgment is, he held onto the ball here – then it should be a new advantage or PK given. If you deem, he played fair or turnover attempt is not legal, then you should return to original scrum infringement.

At times players deliberately spoil advantage from offside position or by going off their feet to slow down good quick ball under advantage at a tackle or ruck when they may not do so – that is a 2nd infringement and referees who read the moment well are allowed to put that team under warning for repeated infringements, or even escalate sanction on the spot to card if its more appropriate to do so in that specific match.

But under current law, teams may prevent advantage through legal plays. It could be considered in future that teams may not prevent advantage in any way – but that will need a formal law change of which the unintended consequences have not been tested yet.

Hope this clears it up!


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