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Duty Ref 552 - Jaco Peyper

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Jaco Peyper is one of the very best referees in the world, certainly a referee to learn from, for refereeing his way is an art. Here he takes time out from buzzing about the world to answer readers' questions - a goodly bunch of them.

1. Names: Zander Poley, Willem Booi De Bruyn, Zoe Kemp, André Engels and Yanga Xingashe.

Jaco Peyper: We have had four people asking how to become referees and one asking how to become a TMO.

First: refereeing has become an integral part of playing rugby. So one should first of all love rugby, which for thousands of people is the greatest game of all. The more you know and understand the game, the more you will love it, and then serving the game becomes natural and easy, and not some weighty sacrifice.

To get to know the game better, watch it and read about it and, if possible, find out what coaches and players are trying to achieve.
The same is true of refereeing: watch referees in action - live on the field and on television to see where they go and how they react to what they see.

The specific knowledge a referee needs is a thorough knowledge of the laws. For many it is easiest from a Law Book but they are also on the Internet. See: and on Interactive App’s for smartphones / tablets under “the Laws of the game”

Then - most important - make contact with your local referees' society. They will help to establish a path for you.

Zoe, it could be easiest for you to work through a school's coach.

André, TMOs are all people who have a good knowledge of rugby, refereeing and the laws. You should try to develop that knowledge. Being a TMO is not easy

It is firstly operated within a specific protocol of referral – not everything can be referred and the protocol is there to organise and bring certainty in the process for the officials, teams and spectators. Secondly there is a further skill of producing / co-operating with the TV Producer in the outside broadcast truck to find the suitable angles of review to be as time effective as possible.

2. Name: Brandon Niemand

Question: Good day i would like to clarify a decision made by one of our school refs . we had a penalty just before the final whistle our player kicked the ball to try kick it out and the opposition jumped and hit the ball directly out , the ref blew the whistle to end the game as time was up when we were awarded the penalty , is this decision correct as we all feel we should have got the line out and should have kept the penalty

Jaco Peyper: Hi Brandon,

I am assuming (not clear from your question):

i. time has elapsed before the kick
ii. opposition player is in the playing field and the ball has not crossed the plane of touch
then if the opposition player touches the ball before it is in touch, then time has expired and no line out is to be allowed.
However if it is a deliberate attempt to knock/throw the ball into touch by that player, then it is foul play and a penalty kick should be awarded, even if time has expired.

3. Name: Marius Scheepers

Question: What is the ruling on prebinding of a player who binds on to a ball-carrier.

Jaco Peyper: Hi Marius, in current law:

i. General /Open Play: Nothing prohibits binding on a team mate about to receive or already carrying the ball, as long as you are onside.
ii. At a penalty kick / free kick taps, the old ‘flying wedge’ is prohibited, but we don’t see the classic formation anymore, teams use a ‘turbo’ cleaner joined right behind the ball-carrier as per general play

4. Name: Okcan Basat

Question: Can you explain why Malcolm Marx was penalised on 12th minute of the Lions vs Bulls game after a knock on?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Ockan, the referee judged it to be a deliberate knock on and not a fair attempt to catch the ball. Not many players have ever caught a rugby ball with an outstretched arm, hand facing downwards, and coaches have asked referees to be stricter on this type of spoiling attack opportunities by the defence. Sometimes it is pretty tough (as this one), but the players clearly know the risks of doing that and what will follow if it doesn’t come off and goes forward.

5. Name: Jaco Storm

Question: I note two specific aspects of the game where my interpretation of the laws and how this is interpreted by match officials differ. Can you please clarify: 1. Putting the ball into the scrum - The ball is often put in skew or even behind the hookers feet.Is this correct in term of the laws. 2. Penalty kicks where the kicker go for the line. The kicker often kicks a few steps over the penalty mark without any repercussion. However for quick tap kicks the team is often blown against. Once again please clarify.

Jaco Peyper: Hi Jaco.

i. the scrum application does not require the #9 to put the ball in dead straight and in along the centre axis of the scrum. This is because of the change in laws in terms of binding and practical scrummaging height in modern game, where it is dangerous (and sometimes impossible) for a hooker to lift his foot and reached to the centre line. It often causes collapses with the 2 ton powers flowing through that crack where the hooker has to reach into scrum. The hookers must lately strike for the ball (can't just scrum over it anymore as a few years ago) – therefore the dispensation that the scrumhalvess may stand closer to his pack than the opposition pack meaning left shoulder meeting the middle of the scrum. This often makes it look not straight, but it is allowed as long as the No2 had to strike the ball back towards his locks. HOWEVER – we have teams sometimes cheat (especially scrums under pressure) that roll the ball directly towards their locks and that is penalizable – it is however pretty hard to see when you have a real binding or collapse battle to referee and Referees sometimes miss that.

ii. You are right in your observation. The major reason for players being called back at a quick tap is that the defenders can’t defend the quick tap if it is not taken from correct place and it leads to big line breaks. Therefore the premium on taking it from a credible mark.

Let's say it would have taken two seconds to move to correct mark - those two seconds is worth gold for a defence line. The players do step over the mark taking the touch kick at times, but its effect is defendable as defence are in a set position, and so the impact most probably lower at that moment. But it doesn’t make it right – and most top-end referees manage that pretty well and it won't happen time and time again in same match.

6. Name: Rudolf Smit

Question: May a defending scrumhalf move past the eighthman's feet to go and defend on the other side of the scrum at primary level

Jaco Peyper: No. He may retire to No.8’s feet, but can't roam over to the other side before the ball is out of the scrum.

7. Name: Glen Morris

Question: I have noticed in the Americas Rugby Championship that jumpers are being lifted very high in the line out. The law states that pre-gripping is allowed as long as it is not below the thighs in the front and shorts at the back. It also states that once the player has caught the ball he must be safely be brought to ground. It is difficult to see where the jumper’s assists are gripping, but it is clear that when is in the air the assist in the front is supporting on the knees while the assist at the back has no grip. Basically it seems they are flinging the jumper up into the air. I see this as dangerous as it may result in the player not being brought back to ground safely. Your thoughts?

Jaco Peyper: The backlifter has the main responsibility to stabilise the player coming down. Look, these types of plays are well controlled by the teams and they train these mechanics very well. World Rugby does keep close eye on all the professional competition stats on injuries, and as soon as an area shows high or increased injury numbers it is closely researched to keep the game safe. Hence the big fuss about contact to head in recent years – based on these data gained. I am sure as soon as this phase of play shows injury tendencies, or even just high risk – the laws will be adjusted to ensure safety.

8. Name: Herman van der Merwe

Question: Mag 'n speler wat aanlê om 'n drie te probeer verdoel, mik? M.a.w vorentoe beweeg en vassteek en weer oor begin met skop? (Bal het nie omgeval nie.)

Jaco Peyper: Herman, hy mag ja. Niks verhoed hom nie. Maar hy moet weet die opposisie mag begin ‘storm’ sodfra hy sy aanloop begin het en mag bly aanstorm al het hy gestop!

9. Name: Jack Delis

Question: How many second do a team have to form a scrum once the mark is made? If a conversion is attempted and the ball falls short of the crossbar but bounce off a opposition player and cross the crossbar, is it a goal or not?

Jaco Peyper:

i. Teams have 30sec to be ready for the scrum – if not, they are liable to be freekicked on the first occasion and a penalty kick on all further occasions they delay the game unfairly.

ii. Yes it is a goal. As long as it doesn’t bounce of the ground or a team-mate, the goal is fair.

10. Name: David Jones

Question: In a tackle situation the law requires that the tackler(s) - and this includes the players arriving at the tackle - must allow the tackled player to place/play the ball immediately. However the law is not applied according to this (in my opinion), especially evident in Sevens rugby where there are fewer players involved. What happens is that a player is tackled an arriving player attacks the ball immediately without allowing the tackled player an opportunity to place/play the ball. The referee then invariably penalises the tackled player for not releasing the ball. In addition the arriving player merely places his hands on top of the ball with no intention of picking it up (it is very difficult to pick up a rugby ball in this manner) it appears that he is trying to "milk" a penalty. Surely the first offence is the arriving player not allowing the tackled player an opportunity to place the ball - I understand that this has to be "immediate". Please clarify.

Jaco Peyper: Hi David,

The first part of your understanding is correct – the tackler must release the ball-carrier to allow him to play / place the ball. The same for the assist tackler who joins in as a secondary tackler and may not even go to ground in the process – he has to show clear release / daylight too.

However the second part of your understanding ‘Arriving’ players does not have any obligations to allow ball-carrier to play – they may go straight for the ball as long as they remain fair (onside and on feet). Arriving means the player who joins after the tackle has been made. Sometimes it is split second post tackle has been made and that player may attack a turnover as stated above – the likes of Malcolm Marx, Duanne Vermeulen and others in South Africa are extremely accurate in doing this.

11. Name: Allan Danker

Question: Nothing in the laws of the game under advantage states that, unless the attacking side in their opponents' 22 scores a try after a penalty infringment by the defending side, the referee must come back for the penalty. Yet all referees come back for the penalty unless a try is scored. This is contrary to the advantage law. Why do referees interpret the advantage law incorrectly?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Allan, you may change your view point after my answer.

The Advanatge law states a few things:

i. Advantage is at the discretion and judgment of referee (subjective) – so he can't really get it wrong…
ii. However he must apply his judgment consistently in a match – can't treat the two teams differently (then he can be wrong)
The Advantage law states Advantage must be Real and Clear and a mere opportunity to gain advantage is not sufficient. At professional level most teams would argue that opportunity to get 3 points is a generally acceptable measure of advantage if nothing else realised under advantage, as they all have kickers who would knock over at least 80% of kicks awarded in the 22m. If we don’t return for that opportunity, they have indicated the risk is to high to play advantage and they would knock the ball on and ask for the penalty kick instead.

Hope this brings a different context and understanding of the advantage applied in TV games. However, the referee can't play minutes under advantage – he has to make a judgment quickly whether advantage opportunity is real or not, and if not, blow the whistle for a penalty kick.

12. Name: Keagan Carlisle

Question: A player receives the ball in his 22m and then attempts to kick the ball downfield. His kick is then charged down and the ball travels into the kicking players in-goal area without touching another player. One of the kicking players teammates then dots the ball down. My question: Does the game resume with a 22m dropout or a 5m scrum to the team who charged the ball down? Thanks for the help!

Jaco Peyper: Hi Keagan, because the ball went of an opposition player last before it went into the in-goal, the opposition team carried it into in-goal – and therefore the kickers team didn’t (not carried back) – result is a 22m drop out. HOWEVER if the ball is passed back into in goal to no10 on dead ball line and kick charged down in in goal… its different as the kicking team carried it back.

Hope the answer helps with a bit of clarity on the two differences.

13. Name: Stefan le Roux

Question: In a situation where Blue team has the throw-in at a lineout. The ball is thrown straight but a Blue player participating in the lineout plays the ball before it reaches the 5m line. What is the sanction?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Stefan, it’s a Free Kick on the 15m line where the line out took place for playing the ball before it reached the required 5m line.

14. Name: Christoff Grobler

Question: There is a massive debate on social media about the tackle made in the Paarl Boys' High Under-14 game against Monument. Would you consider that tackle to be late or as a dangerous tackle? The player received a yellow card, is that justifiable? I might be mistaken but for me that tackle was fair as he was already committed in the tackle even though the ball left the hands of the player who was tackled. What is the rules according to late tackles? When is a tackle considered as late?

Jaco Peyper: Hi Christoff

Well, I’ll start by clarifying late tackles:

There is no reference in law to “committed in the tackle”, etc. However that is an interpretation used to determine a fair tackle, as we all know if you sometimes commit and dive to execute a tackle – in that moment or split second later the ball-carrier passes the ball or offloads and the tackler cannot reasonably be expected to know that, nor change his action hallway through. (“Die koel is deur die kerk”) So if the officials are convinced it is a genuine and realistic attempt to tackle the ball-carrier before he passes the ball, they would allow play to continue when it’s made in the actual pass action as it may be released a moment earlier but still in the pass action. If a player is committed to the tackle but hits the carrier clearly after the pass action the timing is not realistic.

Now let’s say the timing is acceptable – it can still be an illegal tackle under ‘dangerous’ tackle, i.e. no acceptable safe technique used as wrapping arms, leading shoulder or head, height of tackle too high or whatever the referee may deem dangerous. There is a big responsibility on the referee’s shoulders to ensure safety before he applies any other law… so without the benefit of a replay and only an instant moment to make a judgment …. the referee did not deem that tackle to have been safe.

I am sure any father or mother who’s kid gets tackled that way would agree! And many others may disagree for whatever reason – until their kid is on the receiving end.

I respect the referees judgment and control of the game here that it was a dangerous tackle in his view, having no technology to review the angles and impact timing height etc.


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