Clip 1 - 17 October 2019 - Law 11

Clear & Obvious

Ryoto Nakamura, Japan's inside centre, charges ahead with the ball and is tackled by Magnus Bradbury of Scotland. A tackle-ruck forms and the ball comes back to Japan's scrumhalf, Yutaka Nagare, who picks up and shapes to pass to his left when Finn Russell, Scotland's flyhalf, leans forward and grab's Nagare's lower arm, causing the scrumhalf to spill the ball. Russell foots the ball ahead, but the referee blows his whistle and awards a scrum to Japan for a knock-on by Russell, who, with a smile, indicates that he has played Nagare's arm and not the ball.

In recent times, referees have been given the useful "clear & obvious" criteria for making a decision. In this case it is not clear and obvious that Russell knocked on, and play should have been allowed to go on.

Oddly enough, the knock-on law is sometimes wrongly applied to situations where there was no knock-on - the ball that bounces forward off a chest, the kicked ball that goes behind the hands and slips straight down to ground, the ball knocked back that bounces forward. But then letting play go on in these circumstances often would take courage, and yet, if it were a regular occurrence players and watchers would get used to it.

Clear & obvious is a good slogan to referee by; guessing is never good.

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