Clip 3 – 11 April 2019 - Law 11
Makazole Mapimpi of the Sharks scores a try, the conversion is missed and Elton Jantjies kicks off for the Lions. He kicks long to where Jacques Vermeulen of the Sharks awaits the ball. He fails to catch the ball which falls to ground. The referee blows his whistle for a knock-on - to Vermeulen's surprise.
Why should he be surprised?
Knock-on: When a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.
Did Vermeulen lose possession? No. He didn’t have it to lose.
Did Vermeulen hit the ball forward? No.
Did the ball hit Vermeulen's hand or arm and go forward?
Only this third criterion is viable. Look at it carefully, and it is not at all clear and obvious that the ball hits Vermeulen's hand or arm. It certainly hits his lower chest.
If we were to apply the "clear and obvious" principle to this incident, we should allow play to go on.
But imagine the public reaction? By public acclaim this would be a knock-on and so there was no crowd objection to this decision. If the referee had not ruled a knock-on, there would have been a reaction.
It is interesting to see how often a dubious knock-on is blown.