Jonny May´s Try – Legal or illegal?

By Referees Department

The England winger, Jonny May, scored a try in the corner by going airborne to avoid being bundled into touch by an Italian player. We need to look closely at this airborne action of Jonny May: Is it a dive or a jump?

To define the difference the following definition is provided:

  • Dive: An act of pushing oneself off a surface with the body horizontal to the surface and the head and arms are leading (like diving into a pool).
  • Jump: An act of jumping from a surface by pushing upwards (vertically) with one's legs and feet.

Jonny May's legs and feet were pushing him upwards (vertically) and therefore, based on the definitions provided, his action should be seen as a JUMP.

Now that we have determined that May has jumped to avoid being tackled, should the try be allowed?
Answer: NO
Why: Ball carriers cannot jump to avoid a tackle – see previous article

What happens thereafter. Is it a dropout, scrum, or penalty kick? Well, we need to determine whether the jump action needs further attention.

Law protects players who are in the air but players at the same time cannot abuse that protection. May's action of jumping in the air to avoid a tackle has placed himself, and potentially the tackler as well, in a dangerous position.

  • Law 9.11: Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others

The actions of May are considered dangerous play that needs to be sanctioned. The match would restart with a penalty kick 5-metres from the touch and goal line. advert