Clip 3 - 10 June 2019 - Law 14
The Waratahs have the ball and Damien Fitzpatrick, their hooker, charges ahead. He is brought to ground by Elliot Dixon (23) of the Highlanders. Fitzpatrick is not held but is on the ground.
Will Miller of the Waratahs stands crouched over Fitzpatrick. A queue of three players forms up behind Miller with Michael Wells immediately behind Miller. On the Highlanders right of this group is prop Daniel Lienert-Brown As the ball is coming back from Fitzpatrick he shouts loudly and with gestures to the referee who is near him: "Ball's out. Ball's out. It's out." The Waratahs get the ball and play on.
There are several aspects of this incident that are interesting.
i. There was no tackle in terms of the law's definition.
Law 14 REQUIREMENTS FOR A TACKLE
1. For a tackle to occur, the ball-carrier is held and brought to ground by one or more opponents.
2. Being brought to ground means that the ball-carrier is lying, sitting or has at least one knee on the ground or on another player who is on the ground.
3. Being held means that a tackler must continue holding the ball-carrier until the ball-carrier is on the ground.
Dixon does not hold Fitzpatrick when Fitzpatrick is on the ground.
ii. There is no ruck
Law 15.2: A ruck is formed when at least one player from each team are in contact, on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground.
There are no Highlanders on their feet in contact with Waratahs.
iii. 2018 Law amendment
Law 16 Ruck
A ruck commences when at least one player is on their feet and over the ball which is on the ground (tackled player, tackler). At this point the offside lines are created. Players on their feet may use their hands to pick up the ball as long as this is immediate. As soon as an opposition player arrives, no hands can be used.
It seems from this that Miller may well have created a ruck with benefits.
iv. Look at what Wells does. He queues behind Miller with his hand on Miller's back.
Joining a ruck
A player must bind onto a team-mate or an opposition player. The bind must precede or be simultaneous with contact with any other part of the body.
Is Wells binding on Miller?
Binding: Grasping another player’s body firmly between the shoulders and the hips with the whole arm in contact from hand to shoulder.
The three players behind Miller are not part of a ruck and so the end of this ruck is Miller's back foot.
v. Lienert-Brown has a point about the availability of the ball to his side, but what he does is penalisable. He shouts instructions at the referee.
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.
What Lienert-Brown does is not in accordance with the spirit, traditions of rugby football, and could have been penalised. In fact if it had been, it would have been a strike for rugby.