Clip 3 - 18 June 2018 - Law 9

Anton Lienert-Brown knocks on and France, leading 5-3, have a scrum on the half-way line. France heel and the ball comes back to No.8 Fabien Sanconnie.

French scrumhalf Morgan Parra darts off to the right and Sanconnie picks up to come left but Aaron Smith, New Zealand's scrumhalf, tackles him in the midriff.

Both go to ground, Smith on top of Sanconnie. Smith gets up with the ball and is penalised. He throws up his arms, protesting that his shoulders were off Sanconnie. The referee adds 10 metres to the penalty and Parra goals to make the score 8-3.

Why was Smith penalised?

Firstly, it was a tackle.

A tackle occurs when the ball-carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground.
Tackled player: A ball-carrier who is held and taken to ground by a tackler or tacklers.
Tackler: An opposition player who holds the tackled player and goes to ground.

Smith is a tackler in terms of the law.

Law 14.5
Tacklers must:

  • Immediately release the ball and the ball-carrier after both players go to ground.
  • Immediately move away from the tackled player and from the ball or get up.
  • Be on their feet before attempting to play the ball.
  • Allow the tackled player to release or play the ball.
  • Allow the tackled player to move away from the ball.

Sanction: Penalty.

Smith, it would seem, did not immediately release the tackled player and did not allow the tackled player to release or play the ball.

For those reasons, he was penalised. It has nothing to do with his shoulders and everything to do with his hands.

Why the extra 10 metres?

Law 9 is the old Law 10, dealing with foul play.


  • A player must not do anything that is against the spirit of good sportsmanship.
  • Players must respect the authority of the referee. They must not dispute the referee’s decisions. They must stop playing immediately when the referee blows the whistle to stop play.

Sanction: Penalty.

Smith clearly disputes the referee's decision and demonstrates his dispute. For that, he is correctly penalised.

Law 20.1: Penalty and free-kick

Any subsequent infringement by the original offending team after the first penalty or free-kick is awarded but before it is taken. Advanced 10 metres from the original mark.

Both of the referee's decisions were correct. advert