Clip 1 – 10 December 2018 - Law 16

After Schalk Brits is tackled illegally, Handré Pollard kicks out for a line-out about seven metres from the Argentinian line. Brits throws in, Damian de Allende, the centre, goes up at No.2 and deflects the ball to Lood de Jager.

The Barbarians form a maul and rush it at the Argentinian goal-line. Near the five-metre line, Pablo Matera (6) of Argentina starts trying to pull the maul down and at the line, it collapses.

When the referee has ascertained that a try had not been scored, he awards a penalty try.


Law 16.11: Players must not:
                a. Intentionally collapse a maul or jump on top of it.
Sanction: Penalty.

The previous version of the laws which is still law:

Law 17.2 (e) A player must not intentionally collapse a maul. This is dangerous play.
Sanction: Penalty kick

The second version gives the reason for the law - "dangerous play".

Matera was certainly intent on bringing the maul down before a try could be scored. He intentionally collapsed the maul.

*Note: "players". If the Barbarians had collapsed their own maul it would still have been a serious infringement, worthy of a penalty.

Law 9 deals with Foul Play

Law 9.20: A player must not intentionally collapse a ruck or a maul.

What Matera did was foul play.

Penalty try: Awarded when, in the opinion of the referee, a try probably would have been scored if not for an act of foul play by an opponent.

The Barbarians had moved the maul on quickly for some seven metres and was at the line. If Matera had not pulled it down, a try would probably have been scored.

There is more to it than happened in this match.

A penalty try is awarded between the goal posts if foul play by the opposing team prevents a probable try from being scored, or scored in a more advantageous position. A player guilty of this must be cautioned and temporarily suspended or sent off. No conversion is attempted.

Matera was not "temporarily suspended", possibly because of the happy spirit in which a Barbarians match is played.

The decision to award a penalty try was the right one.

If Matera had pulled the maul down over the goal-line, what would have been the decision?

Law 16.1: A maul can take place only in the field of play.

Law 16.16: A maul ends and play continues when
               c. the ball is on or over the goal-line.

If Matera had pulled the ball down over the goal-line, there was no maul at all. But the reason why collapsing a maul is illegal is because it is dangerous. It's still dangerous over the goal-line, and the penalty try could still be a good decision. advert