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Duty Ref 498 - Marius van der Westhuizen

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Marius is just back from refereeing two matches in Tblisi when the floods destroyed much of the city and opened the zoo for lethal wild animals to roam the streets.

This Saturday he is an assistant referee when the Springboks play the World XV and the week after that he will be in Windhoek to referee when Namibia play Russia.

Referees gad but they also have time to answer readers' questions.

1. Name: Paul Whaling

Question: An attacking player kicks the ball into in-goal, and a defending player picks up the ball and is swamped by attackers so he cannot ground the ball. What would be the correct restart?

Thanks, Paul.

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Paul,

Good question as you don’t see that all that often! The outcome would be a scrum and the attacking team would feed the ball as per Law 22.10.

Regards, Marius

2. Name: Allan Danker

Question: A player is tackled just short of the try line in such a manner that he is unable to place the ball because the tackler has his arms grasped. If the tackler would release him as required he could place the ball over the line. The tackler does not release him. What must the ref do?

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi again Allan,

At a tackle our first priority is the tackler. He should immediately release the tackled player so that he can execute his options. Law 15.4 (a)

After that the tackled player must immediately execute his options. Of which putting the ball on the ground in any direction is one of them Law 15.5 (b, c, d)

If the referee feels that because of the actions of the tackler, the tackle player could not execute his options to score a try he must award a Penalty try. Law 10.2 (a)

Hope this answers your question.


3. Name: Allan Danker

Question: A team intend to form a ruck but no opposing players join. As ball is in front of last mans feet an opposing player joins. He does not have to bind but one of his team mates is in front off him. this team-mate tackles opponent as ball emerges. Should he be penalised?

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Again Allan

You are keeping me nice and busy. ?

Ok, what would be applicable here is if a ruck forms or not as that would establish an offside line. Please see the definition of the ruck:

A ruck is a phase of play where one or more players from each team, who are on their feet, in physical contact, close around the ball on the ground. Open play has ended.

OK lets break this down. As I understand it…

The attacking teams intends to form a ruck. The defence initially does not join. The ball is not out yet. A defensive player then Joins and the ruck formed. An offside line is now established. Therefor the player who tackles an opponent is offside and should be penalized.

Please get back to me if I understood this wrong.


4. Name: Frank Branco

Question: Can you please show by illustration what a side entry at ruck time is and is a push in the face allowed at the cleanout?

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Frank.

Please see the illustration on page 105 of the World Rugby Law Book, This can be download from the World Rugby website. ( Hopefully this will give you clarity.

With regards to your second question. I would suggest any contact with the head or face would be seen as foul play and should be dealt with.


5. Name: CF Fürstenburg

Question: Greetings. Can a maul when started ever revert to a tackle? Earlier this season a coach (a primary school referee) was livid that I didn't penalise the defending team when after the maul has taken effect, the ball carrier went down on his knee(s). Law 17(5) is clear on how a maul successfully ends and 17(6) when unsuccessful.

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi CF,

On your question, the answer is NO a Maul cannot revert to a tackle.

If a player tackles the ball carrier in the maul it would be collapsing of the maul. If the ball carrier goes to ground the ball must be played immediately as per law.

In addition to law 17.5 and 17.6 please read 17.2 (d) as well.

Law 17.2 (d)

Keeping players on their feet. Players in a maul must endeavor to stay on their feet. The ball carrier in a maul may go to ground providing the ball is available immediately and play continues.
Sanction: Penalty kick


6. Name: Neville de Villiers

Question: Stormer player No.4 broke his arm and was replaced by No.18 who played for 10 minutes but than the coach subbed him with No.22. Can you allow it?

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Neville,

Yes nothing in law prohibits that. No 4 is replaced because of an Injury and should not return to the field. No 18 is then substituted and cannot return to the field of play unless replacing a player who leaves the field with a blood injury.

7. Name: Willem Scott

Question: Hi. In the Stormers vs Brumbies game, around 66min, the referee went to the TMO. The decision was there was a high tackle on a Stormers player when the Stpormers were the defending team. This happened in the 5m area. Why was the penalty given by the referee on the 5m mark and not on the place of infringement?

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Willem,

Very Well spotted. The Penalty should have been at the place of the infringement. Laws 21.1 and 21.2 are applicable.


8. Name: Herschel Levendal

Question: If player A kicks the ball towards the touchline and player B tries to prevent the ball from going out and slap it back in but then falls out of touch, does this mean the ball is out because of where the player landed or is it play on?

Marius van der Westhuizen: HI Herschel,

Please see the following definition

A player in touch may kick or knock the ball, but not hold it, provided it has not crossed the plane of the touchline. The plane of the touchline is the vertical space rising immediately above the touchline.

If the ball crossed the plane of the touchline and the player lands outside the ball was kicked out directly.

Also please see the rest of the definitions for your info.

‘Kicked directly into touch’ means that the ball was kicked into touch without landing on the playing area, and without touching a player or the referee.

‘The 22’ is the area between the goal line and the 22-metre line, including the 22-metre line but excluding the goal line.

The line of touch is an imaginary line in the field of play at right angles to the touchline through the place where the ball is thrown in.

The ball is in touch when it is not being carried by a player and it touches the touchline or anything or anyone on or beyond the touchline.

The ball is in touch when a player is carrying it and the ball carrier (or the ball) touches the touchline or the ground beyond the touchline. The place where the
ball carrier (or the ball) touched or crossed the touchline is where it went into touch.

The ball is in touch if a player catches the ball and that player has a foot on the touchline or the ground beyond the touchline. If a player has one foot in the field of play and one foot in touch and holds the ball, the ball is in touch.

If the ball crosses the touchline or touch-in-goal line, and is caught by a player who has both feet in the playing area, the ball is not in touch or touch-in-goal.
Such a player may knock the ball into the playing area.

If a player jumps and catches the ball, both feet must land in the playing area otherwise the ball is in touch or touch-in-goal.

A player in touch may kick or knock the ball, but not hold it, provided it has not crossed the plane of the touchline. The plane of the touchline is the vertical space rising immediately above the touchline.


9. Name: Johan Willers

Question: Hoërskool Rugby: i. Indien my agterspeler die veld verlaat met 'n besering, kan ek die volgende doen: Eenvan my losvoorspelers 6,7 of 8 in die agterspeler se plek inskuif en dan 'n speler van die bank af op bring om 6,7, of 8 te vervang. ii. Senter word afgestuur met rooikaart. Die skrums wat volg kan een van my losvoorspelers uitval om die senter posisie te dek. Dus gaan hy nie deelneem aan die vaste skrums nie.

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Johan,

i. Ja jy mag enige van jou spelers in die agterlyn laat speel op hoërskool vlak. Geen probleem nie.

ii. Ongelukkig mag jy dit nie doen as ‘n agter speler van die veld gestuur word nie. Die reel maak slegs voorsiening daarvoor indien een van jou voorspelers van die veld gestuur word. Jy sal dit sien op bl 170 van die reelboek. Sien asb hieronder. Jammer maar ek het nie ‘n afrikaanse reëlboek nie.

In an 8 person scrum the formation must be 3-4-1, with the single player (normally the
Number 8) shoving on the 2 locks. The locks must pack with their heads on either side of
the hooker.
Exception: A team must have fewer than eight players in its scrum when the team cannot
field eight suitably trained players in its scrum due to either the team not fielding a
complete team, or a forward player being sent off or temporarily suspended for foul play, or
a forward player leaving the field because of injury.

Hoop dit maak sin,


10. Name: Morgan Davies

Question: Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I know this question has been asked before, but could you please explain the difference when a referee asks the TMO "Try or no Try?" and "Is there any reason I cannot award the try?. Also, how far back can the TMO go if a try has been scored, but the referee suspects an infringement?

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Morgan,

It’s only a pleasure.

1st Question (Try no try) normally asked when the referee has no idea whether it is a try or not. The TMO must then see grounding and be sure that the player was not in touch. Question 2 (Any reason) The referee has seen the ball being grounded but suspects that there might have been a knock on or something wrong before he saw the grounding. So unless the TMO sees something wrong in the lead up the referee will award the try.

Under the current protocol the referee/ TMO can only go back two phases for infringements like knock on’s and forward passes. For foul play the referee/ TMO can go back to where the game last restarted.


11. Name: Edward Pye

Question: Quick question about the penalty try in the Waratahs/Highlanders match. The law book talks about a try probably being scored but there is some debate about how you go about taking the infringing player out of the action. Do you remove the entire player to determine a probable try - so remove Potgeiter entirely from the situation, or do you just remove the illegal action - so you just remove the swinging arm? Potgeiter's body and legs were also a factor in preventing the try, so are they removed from the equation also? Thanks.

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Edward

In the past some mention was made about removing the player who committed the foul play from of the equation completely. However that is not how the law is written.

It makes mention of the following:

Penalty try. A penalty try is awarded if a try would probably have been scored but for foul play by the defending team. A penalty try is awarded if a try would probably have been scored in a better position but for foul play by the defending team.

There is no doubt in my mind that Potgieter's action constitutes foul play. So what you need to judge is, did that action prevent a probable try from being scored. If your answer is Yes then it’s a penalty try and a Yellow Card (as the law states you have to give a Yellow Card after a Penalty Try) . If No, then definitely a Penalty Kick and probable Yellow Card for the tackle.


12. Name: Jannie Adams

Question: What is the sanction when the ball is thrown in at a line out in 15-man rugby and it is played before it reach the 5m line.

Marius van der Westhuizen: Hi Jannie,

The sanction would be a Free kick on the 15m line against the team that prevented the ball travelling 5m. 19.10 (h)


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