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Duty Ref 557: Marius van der Westhuizen

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With Super Rugby Aotearoa and Australia coming to an end, Marius van der Westhuizen - while training and preparing for the upcoming local competition - answers some readers' questions.

1. Name: Johan Louw

Question: I have a concern and then a question. I watched the game between the Chiefs and Blues today. What really upset me was that after an excellent try from the Chiefs winger Solomon Alaimalo, a Blues player fell on top of him and dislocated or broke his arm and he had to leave the field for the rest of the game and probably the season. What was to be a joyful moment for the try scorer became a tragedy caused by dangerous play after the try was scored. Now my question: when are we going to start penalizing this kind of behaviour? To me, it falls into the category of foul and dangerous play; similar to a late tackle and should be penalized with at least a yellow and even a red card!

Marius van die Westhuizen: Hi Johan. That is a great observation and I am in total agreement with you. Player safety should be the top priority for us as match officials. In my view, the defending player could not realistically prevent the try from being scored and the fact the he ends up diving on the player on the ground makes it foul play. In this instance, one should see a Penalty Kick on the halfway line as the foul play took place after the try was scored. One can also consider a Yellow card for the level of danger that was caused by the action of the defending player.

There is nothing wrong to attempt a tackle while a player is diving to go over the goal line, but I think the timing was slight off in this instance.

Kind regards

2. Name: Christopher Balsara

Question: Q1. In uncontested scrums, what is the sanction if the No. 8 picks up the ball? Q2. At a scrum after the ball has been put in by Red 9, Red 8 unbinds from the locks and binds onto the lock and flanker. Is this permissible? If not what is the sanction? Q3. At a scrum, the opposition scrumhalf is behind the ball, but he drifts outwards say 5m, closer to the opposing No.10. Is that allowed or what is the sanction?

Marius van die Westhuizen: Hi Christopher, Three Great Questions.

Q1. Nothing wrong with that, Play should continue.

Q2. All players in the scrum should stay bound for the duration of the scrum. An acceptable practice worldwide is that once No.8 detaches, he must pick the ball up and play it. In other words, he cannot scrum in the “new position” once he has detached. One thing to keep in mind, nothing stops him from starting in the second described position, but where he starts, he should continue until he picks the ball up or emerges from the scrum. If not, the sanction is a penalty kick.

Q3. The scrumhalf (Non-feeding team) should start on his side of the middle line of the scrum (the tunnel) until the ball is fed. Once the ball is fed it becomes the offside line as long as the scrumhalf stays close to the scrum. If he decides to move away from the scrum, his offside line becomes the hindmost foot of his teammate in the scrum.
An important thing to keep in mind is that the change of position becomes permanent so he cannot go back to the previous offside line once he has changed position. The Sanction would be a Penalty pick.

Hope that answers your questions.


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