Clip 1 – 9 April 2019 - Law 20

Bryn Hall, the Crusaders' scrumhalf, puts the ball into a scrum. The Hurricanes get a powerful surge forward and the scrum wheels. The ball comes out on the other side of the scrum from where Hall had put the ball in.

The referee penalises the Crusaders. TJ Perenara, the Hurricanes lively scrumhalf, had darted around the scrum and took a tap kick for the penalty. In the wheeling of the scrum, Matt Todd, the Crusaders' left flank, had wheeled with the scrum and was behind Perenara when Perenara took the tap kick.

As Perenara takes the kick, Todd accelerates and is behind Perenara and seems to make contact with Perenara. Perenara spills the ball. The referee immediately penalises Todd and shows him a yellow card.

What follows this is something that does not belong in rugby. Clearly angry and gesticulating, Todd argues with the referee. This is an action which falls under Law 9 which deals with Foul Play.

Law 9: MISCONDUCT

  • 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

But back to the penalty and yellow card.

Law 20: OPPOSING TEAM AT A PENALTY OR FREE-KICK

  • 12 When a penalty or free-kick is awarded, the opposing team must immediately retreat 10 metres towards their own goal line or until they have reached their goal line if that is closer.
  • 13 Even if the penalty or free-kick is taken quickly and the kicker’s team is playing the ball, opposing players must keep retreating the necessary distance. They may not take part in the game until they have done so.
  • 14 If it is taken so quickly that opponents have no opportunity to retreat, they will not be sanctioned for this. However, they may not take part in the game until they have retreated 10 metres from the mark or until a team-mate who was 10 metres from the mark has moved in front of them.
  • 15 The opposing team may not do anything to delay the kick or obstruct the kicker, including intentionally taking, throwing or kicking the ball out of reach of the team awarded the penalty.
  • Sanction: Second penalty or free-kick, 10 metres in front of the original mark. The second penalty or free-kick must not be taken before the referee has made the mark

The referee obviously decided that Todd had acted deliberately to prevent Perenara's taking a quick tap kick.

Law 9.7: A player must not:
a. Intentionally infringe any law of the game.
Sanction: Penalty

In the referee's judgement - which is the one that counts - Todd had deliberately acted to stop Perenara from playing quickly as he was entitled to do.

This way of acting is sometimes referred to by referees as cynical, acting purely out of self-interest without regard to the provisions of the game and the sportsmanship it hopes to achieve. 

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