Clip 2 – 29 April 2019 - Law 20

The referee is playing advantage as the Highlanders have the ball. Their handling goes awry and the ball is a good 20 metres back from where the penalty would be.

The referee blows his whistle for the penalty and Rob Thomson grabs the ball. He races up with it to where the referee is awarding the penalty and taps the ball. The Highlanders go on a quick attack and score a try, which is awarded.

But look at the tapping of the ball.

With a penalty, play must resume with a kick, a scrum or a lineout - at the non-offenders' option. They opt to take a kick.

DEFINITION
Kick: An act made by intentionally hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, from the toe to the knee but not including the knee. A kick must move the ball a visible distance out of the hand, or along the ground.

In this case, Thomson holds the ball carefully in both hands, lifts his right foot and taps it to the ball. It is not a kick as ball does not travel a visible distance from his hand.

It is the third time that this happened in the match and each time play went on.

This is, it seems, a case where interpretation supersedes law, which is a needlessly unhappy situation, one making consistency difficult.

The recent "abbreviated law" does not prescribe the action to be taken if the kick is not taken correctly, but the previous addition of the laws of the game, claimed to be unchanged in the abbreviated version, did address the matter, stating that any infringement by the kicker's team results in a scrum, at the mark. The opposing team throws in the ball. 

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