Clip 1 - 17 May 2019 - Law 11

Forward Pass and it is One

The score is 19-16 to the Crusaders with time running out. The Crusaders have the ball and are going right. 

On the half-way line, Braydon Ennor passes to right wing Sevu Reece. Reece sprints ahead and then, hemmed in, kicks. Damian Willemse of the Stormers is leading the race for the ball but it breaks to the right in in-goal. Reece gets the kind bounce and scores. The try is awarded, but...

The assistant referee suggested a look at the pass. The referee consults the TMO. The TMO says that there is "clear and compelling evidence of a forward pass". The try is cancelled and instead the Stormers put the ball into a scrum on the half-way line.

There has been debate about the pass. The ball leaves Ennor's hands on the half-way line. Reece catches it about a metre over the half-way line.

Does that make it a forward pass?

Not necessarily.

In the Law book, the forward pass is referred to as a throw forward.

DEFINITION
Throw forward: When a player throws or passes the ball forward, i.e. if the arms of the player passing the ball move forward.

It's not about where the ball is caught. That can be affected by the momentum, of the player passing the ball. It's easy to see the effect of momentum. Drive down a street and when you get opposite a pole throw a ball out of the window straight at the pole. The ball will land well ahead of the pole. (There are other even more telling tests that you can do.)

DEFINITION
Forward: Towards the opposition’s dead-ball line.

It's about the movement of Ennor's arms in the act of passing. Do his arms move forward?

If they do not, the pass was not forward.
If they do move forward, the pass was forward.

It is interesting that forward passes and knock-ons, such basic bits of rugby law, are not all that easy to decide and are often wrongly treated, sometimes one feels for the look of the thing.

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