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Duty Ref 539 - Jaco van Heerden

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Jaco van Heerden is a busy man - husband and father, practising advocate and referee much in demand. On Sunday he was at Loftus Versfeld for a Currie Cup match and this week he is in Bloemfontein when the Cheetahs play the Blue Bulls. Busy though he is, he still has time to answer readers' questions.

By the way, the clips are up and running again after a lengthy absence for technical reasons.

1. Name: Chris Russell

A player leaps from the field of play in an attempt to play a ball back into the field of play. He makes contact with the ball but the ball falls in touch. Is that player then responsible for putting the ball into touch?

Jaco van Heerden: Hi Chris

This happens quite often. The plane of touch is the key here. If the ball has crossed the plane of touch, then the player is not responsible for touch, conversely if the ball has not cross the plane then the player is responsible for touch.

Good question!


Law 19

The plane of touch: The plane of the touchline is the vertical space rising immediately above the touchline.

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.

In this case, if the ball has reached the plane of touch when it is caught, then the catcher is not deemed to have taken the ball into touch. If the ball has not reached the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up, then the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary.
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 from the playing area and knocks the ball back into the playing area (or if that player catches the ball and throws it back into the playing area) before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, play continues regardless of whether the ball reaches the plane of touch.
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.

A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball.

If the ball-carrier reaches the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area without first landing in touch, play continues.
19.1 Throw-in

2. Name: Armando Gouveia

Sorry for my English and for my simple question.

How does the toss happen?
Who has the coin?
Who throws the coin into the air?
Who calls the side?
Do you catch the coin or let it go on the ground?
If it goes on the ground, who picks it up? How does the winner decide?
Can the winner say: I will decide when we get onto the field?
Can the winner change his mind when he is on the field?


Jaco van Heerden: Hi Armando

Something as a trivial occurrence to some teams it can really be the difference between a win a defeat.

I find it apt to quote to you:

Law 6.A.3 Duties of the referee before the match
(a) Toss. The referee organises the toss. One of the captains tosses a coin and the other captain calls to see who wins the toss. The winner of the toss decides whether to kick off or to choose an end. If the winner of the toss decides to choose an end, the opponents must kick off and vice versa.

3. Name: Name: Bunny Bolton

Now that it is legal to stand on your side at a scrum and put the ball in on your side, why did they still say the ball must be put in straight?

They say, somebody in the front row - anybody at all with any foot - must hook the ball. Does foot-up still exist?

Jaco van Heerden: Hi Bunny

The scrumhalf must throw the ball in straight, but is allowed to align his shoulder on the middle line of the scrum, therefore allowing them to stand a shoulder's width towards his own side of the middle line.

Rationale: To promote scrum stability, a fair contest for possession while also giving the advantage to the team throwing in (non-offending team).

Once the ball touches the ground in the tunnel, any front-row player may use either foot to try to win possession of the ball. One player from the team who put the ball in must strike for the ball.

Rationale: To promote a fair contest for possession.

Yes, the ‘foot-up’ law still exists but it is most obviously currently taking the proverbial backseat in focus areas.


4. Name: Reggie Oswald

Why are players now allowed to be in front of the ball when their team is kicking off. It happens every time in big rugby.

If it's allowed because it doesn't matter and doesn't have an effect on the game, why do teams do it? Surely they do it because it does matter because it gets them an advantage.

Jaco van Heerden: Hi Reggie

It is really more often than not just a result of overeagerness and bad timing because of the flyhalves “getting into their stride”. There is however a need from us as referees to manage this properly. It looks bad and messy if not policed.


5. Name: Arthur Wade-Smith

Please, explain to me the difference between accidental offside (scrum) and the penalty for offside at a knock-on (penalty). And could you also tell me how obstruction is determined when backs start running funny lines to confuse the defence?

Jaco van Heerden: Hi Arthur

When the attack attempts to deceive an opponents and the deceiving runner is in a position to catch the ball AND if the defending team initiates contact then it is play on. If the above is in the negative, then its obstruction.

7. Name: Connie Havenga

How old do you have to be to start refereeing? Can you straightaway join a referees' society? Are girls allowed to referee?

Jaco van Heerden: Hi Connie,

Of course, girls can join - Aimee Barrett is SARU’s international woman's referee.

Age is no requirement, as with anything in life - experience is all you need to go places.



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