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ASK THE REF
Posted by: P G Tips (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 08:45

I attended BRSC Annual “Ask The Ref” session with Tony Spreadbury last night. “Spreaders” was his usual entertaining self and gave some great insights into recent World Cup and Premiership incidents, as well as this season’s ref protocols and interpretations.

He has visited all 12 Premiership Clubs to present on the protocols, accompanied by a professional Prem ref each time. 10 clubs allowed him to address their entire squad. 2- Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers, only the coaching staff.

Key points were:

High Tackle
Refs deal with all high tackle incidents through the High Tackle Sanction Framework:
- Was there Foul Play?
- Was there contact with the head/neck?
- Were there mitigating circumstances?

If the answer to the first 2 is yes the Ref MUST give a Red card. Mitigation can only be one level, no matter how many mitigating factors – so a yellow card is the alternative.

The “Rugby collision” is no longer recognised. Either there is Foul Play or there is not. Zero tolerance on dangerous play involving the head.

If there is open space between the players before the incident and the offending player has a clear sight of his opponent, mitigation is not considered.

Aled Brew Incident

Ian Tempest followed the correct framework process, had no choice but Red Card, made the right decision.

Illegal “Fend”

If the non carrying arm is away from the body and used to fend off a tackler (i.e. forearm or elbow) that is a fend and illegal – will be punished with penalty. The exception is when the ball carrier “braces” going into contact and keeps the arm close to the body, he can then “brush” the tackler off.

Clear Out

A player going into a ruck with his arm “tucked” is clearing out illegally. If that results in contact with head the high tackle sanction framework applies.

Off Feet at Ruck

I raised the point that players are supposed to “endeavour to stay on their feet at the ruck” –this is seldom penalised. Tony said they should be, except that current ref interpretations allow leeway to go off feet if they effect a successful clear. I asked if Refs would therefore publish that interpretation so spectators knew and would feel less inclined to barrack refs. He said “good idea, but we won’t do it” – but would not explain why not.

The “Caterpillar”
Players must be properly bound- not just e.g. a hand on teammates hip. Ball must be beneath the body of a player bound in –otherwise it is out and fair game. At caterpillar, if ball is out players should go for the ball not the 9.

Scrum

- The key is scrum must be stable and safe. A straight pushing contest is demanded. Refs particularly look for Tighthead levering the loosehead down and Loosehead pulling down and of course wheeling.
- Ball in straight. That “is not going to happen”. He did say “It’s a lot better than it was.” This was met by some ironic comments!
- Bath v Northampton -9 minutes of scrums. The lengthy scrum period from 60-69 mins was because the nature of offences varied. Asked why a penalty try was not given he commented that Bath were not going forward at time of the scrum offences so a PT could not be given. I reminded him that he gave the same answer 6 years ago (Bath v Sale) when it was not possible for Bath to go forward because of scrum collapse by Sale. His comment this time was that on the 2 occasions a PT might have been given Zach chose to pick up the ball (one a fresh penalty, two the try). Had it stayed in an advancing scrum PT would have resulted.
- Bath scrum. Known among refs last season as “difficult to ref”. This season as “much improved, very good.”

Offside

Refs are to be hot this year on offside- particularly “back foot” and in front of kicker.

I hope these explanations prove useful. It was a busy evening, with many questions. I would have liked to ask a few more but there simply was not time. I took no notes so the above is from memory – if anybody else was there and has anything to add, please do.

PG



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 14/11/2019 09:00 by P G Tips.

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: BathMatt53 (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 09:37

interesting stuff PGT, thanks.



[Adoptee 19 / 20: The High ball and counter attack meister, Tom Homer]

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: Bathovalballer (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 09:42

Thank you PGT. Excellent summation and very insightful.

Personally I think the refs not applying the law to putting the ball in straight is abdecating their responsibilities. If defending sides know that they don't have a hope of hooking a ball put straight into the second row, all they will do is an eight man shove which could be argued is more dangerous with all extra effort and weight being applied to the opposition scrum. It means the striking hooker can barely get his foot off the ground. Much more interesting and skillful and creates more of a contest if both hookers are able to strike for the ball.



Adopted player 2019/20 Jonathan 'JJ' Joseph.

The Jink Joseph.

Adopted player 2018/19 Adopted player 2018/19 Semesa 'The Rock' Rokoduguni

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: Dorset Boy (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 09:47

Quote:
Bathovalballer
Thank you PGT. Excellent summation and very insightful.
Personally I think the refs not applying the law to putting the ball in straight is abdecating their responsibilities. If defending sides know that they don't have a hope of hooking a ball put straight into the second row, all they will do is an eight man shove which could be argued is more dangerous with all extra effort and weight being applied to the opposition scrum. It means the striking hooker can barely get his foot off the ground. Much more interesting and skillful and creates more of a contest if both hookers are able to strike for the ball.

See you can make very sensible posts BoB. I agree with you.
I'd also add that the back foot offside line is not being reffed well at at, both in the RWC and in the Premiership. That's down to the arefs not looking properly, particularly close to the breakdown.

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: shipwrecked (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 09:57

Quote:
Bathovalballer
If defending sides know that they don't have a hope of hooking a ball put straight into the second row, all they will do is an eight man shove

The point as I understand it is that the hooker doesn't strike on his put in because if he does he gives the other side a one man advantage in the 'shove'.

The only way hooking could return is if both hookers were made to contend for the ball to equalise the contest. I'd like to see that.

It sounds from PGT's post that there was an element of, "we've decided and that's that!" I don't understand why they couldn't share the reason for decisions?

Did you feel they were being defensive PG?



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Beno Obano Age 25 years, Loosehead prop, 5ft 8ins 18st 12lbs 'Mauls are like Transformers' they change form to become more powerful!

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: P G Tips (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 11:09

BoB, Dorset Boy
Agree completely with your posts.

Shipwrecked, the hooker of the side putting in is mandated to strike: which make the fact that his opponent is not even more odd!

I don't think Tony was being "defensive" -that is not his style. He is engaging, informative and entertaining. However, this is not the first time he has declined to explain the reasoning behind a refereeing trend or interpretation. I would say he was being evasive and there may be some explanation for that beyond his control.

(My speculation is that World Rugby come up with the interpretations leaving individual Unions limited wiggle room in some cases. Just my guess).

I could have asked so many follow up questions but there was a constant queue of hands and it would have been unfair & counter productive to monopolise!

PG

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: shipwrecked (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 11:42

Quote:
P G Tips
Shipwrecked, the hooker of the side putting in is mandated to strike: which make the fact that his opponent is not even more odd!
PG

Didn't realise that PG, so in joke mode he strikes with his foot when the ball has already actually been delivered to the second row!

Really does need looking at.



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Beno Obano Age 25 years, Loosehead prop, 5ft 8ins 18st 12lbs 'Mauls are like Transformers' they change form to become more powerful!

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: Rawce (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 12:10

Thanks for the clarifications. I guess with the Brew incident that his "brace" wasn't executed correctly with an extended elbow for fend instead of tucked in. I still maintain he had no time to react and that their 15 was illegal/dangerous in his taking Brew out.

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: BathMatt53 (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 13:31

[www.premiershiprugby.com]

some details of the actual charges here.



[Adoptee 19 / 20: The High ball and counter attack meister, Tom Homer]

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: shipwrecked (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 13:38

Quote:
BathMatt53
https://www.premiershiprugby.com/news/aled-brew-handed-three-week-suspension-at-disciplinary-hearing
some details of the actual charges here.

Interesting that the two red card incidents both involve wingers challenging for the ball.



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Beno Obano Age 25 years, Loosehead prop, 5ft 8ins 18st 12lbs 'Mauls are like Transformers' they change form to become more powerful!

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: Rawce (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 16:44

So they concluded it was a deliberate elbow to the throat? Brew should be an F1 driver if his reactions are that quick!

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: BathMatt53 (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 17:22

Or ultimate fighter / ninja



[Adoptee 19 / 20: The High ball and counter attack meister, Tom Homer]

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: sid the seagull (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 17:52

Brew incident: at the time I squawked In rage.
In retrospect I believe that if Aled had seriously wanted to go around his oppo at the time of chipping he is good enough to have done it. Oppo does not have to get out of way. There was an element of the deliberate about the collision.

ONLYPECK

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: joethefanatic (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 19:12

Quote:
sid the seagull
Brew incident: at the time I squawked In rage.
In retrospect I believe that if Aled had seriously wanted to go around his oppo at the time of chipping he is good enough to have done it. Oppo does not have to get out of way. There was an element of the deliberate about the collision.

ONLYPECK

It would certainly have helped if he had not raised his forearm. A shoulder to shoulder collision wouldn't even have been a penalty.



... IMHO, of course.

Now in Honolulu

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: ChippenhamRoman (IP Logged)
Date: 14 November, 2019 23:34

The off feet clear out at the ruck is a pet peeve of mine. Players launching themselves like an Exocet into the ruck. Oh but they cleared out successfully so that’s alright.

Doesn’t look like that is going to be challenged.

J

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: P G Tips (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 08:29

ChippenhamRoman

Agree- seems a bit of a cop out.

Sam Underhill interviewed on the same topic in May:


“The breakdown is one of the last grey areas of the game for me. The law at the moment is you have to make an effort to bind before you hit a ruck. The letter of the law is you make an effort to bind onto a player before you enter a ruck. That never happens.

“It doesn’t happen because it can’t happen. If you try and bind on to someone before you try and move them off the breakdown, you’re going to be there late and you’re not going to have enough momentum to get them off the ball.

“I understand it is the way the game is played and it’s commonly interpreted the same, but my issue is if all clean-outs are illegal by the letter of the law then you can’t differentiate between the bad ones and the okay ones.

“If everyone is breaking the law by not binding before they hit a ruck you can’t penalise the people that really don’t do it right, those who hit them hard, go off their feet and stuff.

“I’m not going moan about it because it is part of the game, it is how it is played at the moment, but it can be a bit confusing at times. I’d probably like to see it treated similarly to a tackle because that is effectively what a breakdown is now.

“It is sort of a tackle but the problem is you get a lot of them where there is no effort, there is no arms involved and players are flying in off their feet. It’s a lot of momentum. If you’re trying to get over the ball and have two blokes who are over 100 kilos flying into you off their feet, it can be pretty difficult to survive that.

“It’s sort of acknowledged that that is the way it is at the moment but I’d probably like to see the ambiguity cleaned up. Also for the refs because the refs have a hard enough job as it is being consistent in their interpretation and in being fair.

“For them they have got a pretty hard job because I don’t think the guidelines are particularly clear as to what is and isn’t okay – and you probably see that a spectator. It’s a part of the game but if you want to make the game safer and reduce injury rates, it’s probably a good place to start,” he continued.

“You know it [the impact] is coming but the physics of it are pretty difficult if you have got that much momentum coming at you that quickly, it is nearly impossible to survive that.

“If you have got the majority of clean-outs where there is two players and they’re both off their feet and neither of them are making an effort to do a wrap in any way, then you’re going to struggle to survive.”



P G Tips



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Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: B4thB4ck (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 10:00

Good points, the ruck is the wild west. Of course if you are over the ball on your feet it is the head which sticks forward and is vulnerable. Hard to think of a way to improve it but I would say that releasing the ball immediately would help. This trend of giving the tackled player more time to place the ball whilst wriggling and rolling around only allows support to come in from further away with momentum whilst the first defender who wasnt allowed to pick up the ball awaits the inevitable car crash moment.

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: Optimist (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 10:29

I think there's always that feeling that, if you refereed every single ruck to the letter of the law, then there would be at least 3 penalty offences at every single ruck. But i still think that the latter stages of the World Cup - notable for the absence of high tackles, shoulder charges and dangerous clear-outs - were clear evidence that players can quickly adapt when refs flex their red cards.

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: ChippenhamRoman (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 10:47

Quote:
B4thB4ck
Good points, the ruck is the wild west. Of course if you are over the ball on your feet it is the head which sticks forward and is vulnerable. Hard to think of a way to improve it but I would say that releasing the ball immediately would help. This trend of giving the tackled player more time to place the ball whilst wriggling and rolling around only allows support to come in from further away with momentum whilst the first defender who wasnt allowed to pick up the ball awaits the inevitable car crash moment.

I must admit you’ve got to have balls of steel to be a modern day jackal. Like the article said, two 100kg blokes coming at you to smash you back and you are ferreting about trying to steal a ball that has been “placed / held” is brave.

J



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 15/11/2019 10:48 by ChippenhamRoman.

Re: ASK THE REF
Posted by: warrenball (IP Logged)
Date: 15 November, 2019 10:54

Thank you PGT, very interesting. I am surprised they do not referee offside at kick offs more than they do, there are three officials, it is not difficult to see who is in front of the kicker when he kicks the ball.

Reset scrums are my pet hate, it is not a fair way of running down the clock and I think if they stopped the clock at the first reset and only started it once the ball was finally out, no matter how many further resets there were, we would suddenly see this problem disappear.

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