Clip 1 - 21 October 2019 - Law 14
What constitutes a tackle
From a penalty just before half-time, the Springboks kick out for a lineout. They form a maul and trundle forward till the referee tells scrumhalf Faf de Klerk to use the ball. He passes straight to inside centre Damien de Allende who goes straight forward. Japan fullback Ryohei Yamanaka dives to tackle De Allende around the lower legs. De Allende goes down on both knees. He then struggles to get up as Kazuki Himeno dives at his legs. (What Himeno does does not constitute a tackle as De Allende is already on the ground.) De Allende pushes himself up by his left knee, stumbles again and again uses his left knee to lever himself up and he gallops over for a try. But the referee penalises De Allende, saying: "Knee clearly on the floor. Tackle clearly complete."
We need the law to see what constitutes a tackle and what constitutes being grounded.
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.
1 & 2 De Allende is brought to ground.
Off feet: Players are off their feet when any other part of the body is supported by the ground or players on the ground.
When De Allende's knees are on the ground, he is off his feet which also means that he is on the ground. It was Yamanaka's action that brought him there.
De Allende carries the ball and is brought to ground.
3. This is the difficult one here.
Does Yamanaka keep a hold of De Allende's legs when De Allende is on the ground?
It is not clearly the case. It may have been a good idea to have consulted the TMO as the referee's view was from behind Yamanaka who was behind De Allende.
It was well within the TMO protocol to allow the try and then consult the TMO for a closer examination of the tackle.
If it was indeed a tackle, then De Allende was wrong to keep holding the ball and getting up with it.
Law 14.7 Tackled players must immediately:
a. Make the ball available so that play can continue by releasing, passing or pushing the ball in any direction except forward. They may place the ball in any direction.
b. Move away from the ball or get up.
c. Ensure that they do not lie on, over or near the ball to prevent opposition players from gaining possession of it.
Getting up with the ball is not one of the options, as it is not releasing, passing or pushing the ball.
We have stuck with the tackle because of what the referee said, but what if it had not been a tackle?
If De Allende had not been tackled but only knocked to ground, would he have been allowed to get up with the ball?
Law 13.1 Players, who go to ground to gather the ball or who go to ground with the ball, must immediately:
a. Get up with the ball; or
b. Play (but not kick) the ball; or
c. Release the ball.
De Allende exercised option a. - getting up with the ball.
Immediately? That becomes the issue.
De Allende did not go to ground and simply stand up. He went down on both knees and got up. He went down on his left knee and got up. In the process he moved about two metres forward. That does not qualify as immediately.
If he did not do it immediately, he was liable to be penalised for what he did, and he was penalised.
The outcome was right even if the reasoning may - or may not - have been wrong, which it may not have been. But with the score at 5-3 a more careful look may well have been sensible.