Clip 5 – 1 March 2019 - Law 17
The Stormers are on the attack. They go left to Damian de Allende who is in the Bulls' 22 and chips ahead to his left. Falling back Handré Pollard leaps up, catches the ball and claims a mark.
Pollard has two goes at catching the ball. When he first catches the ball it bounces up in his attempt and then he catches it the second time.
The referee let's play go on, stating that the ball had not been caught "cleanly" where cleanly would mean without any bobbling of the ball.
Let's look at Law 17 in the new version of the law. It deals with the mark.
Law 17: Claiming a mark
To claim a mark, a player must:
- Have at least one foot on or behind their own 22-metre line when catching the ball or when landing having caught it in the air; and
- Catch a ball that has reached the plane of the 22-metre line directly from an opponent’s kick before it touches the ground or another player; and
- Simultaneously call “mark”.
A player may claim a mark even if the ball hits a goal post or crossbar before being caught.
When a mark is called correctly, the referee immediately stops the game and awards a free-kick to the team in possession.
A mark may not be claimed from a kick-off or a restart kick after a score.
Nowhere in the law does it state that the ball must be caught cleanly.
Previously the law laid this down for the mark in Law 18 which dealt with the mark.
To make a mark, a player must be on or behind that player's 22-metre line...The player must make a clean catch from an opponent's kick and at the same time shout "Mark".
Clean catch = without a bobble, apparently.
It is not clear why "clean catch" is no longer there as there has been no amendment or clarification to that effect and it is claimed that the laws have not changed, only the wording and numbering.
If the law has not been changed, the referee was right.
If it has been changed, it would be good that it be promulgated.