What were Super Rugby referees thinking?
Referees made three key errors in their rulings throughout this year’s Super Rugby tournament. And I’m not talking about the abnormally lax refereeing of forward passes which I am going to assume was just error rather than a plan.
Nor am I talking about the fact that every side which plays my team seems to be allowed to leave their feet at the breakdown – of course my team never cheat! Rather, three things were consciously ruled on incorrectly throughout the year.
Let’s get the obvious and perennial one out of the way first. Scrum feeds – why on earth are half backs allowed to feed the ball into the second row? The game is meant to be a contest, why are scrum feeds allowed such laxity?
The rule book not being applied really annoys me – I’d like to use stronger language here, instead I’ll just have to type really hard.
The scrum contest is one of my favourite parts of the game, there are a lot of problems with resets, and refereeing of collapses that are hard to get right. Fixing the feed is simple so why isn’t it being done?
I noticed the second one mostly by the Cheetahs and Lions but they were certainly not alone. Forward runners had players binding to them as they hit the ball up. My understanding is that this is illegal; you are not allowed to bind to the ball carrier until after a tackle is made.
With the emphasis on releasing tackled players on the ground prior to competing for the ball, one way to create turn over ball (if you have a competent scrum) is to hold the tackled player on his feet and lock him and the ball up.
This creates the situation that the ball does not come out of a maul and the defending team gets the put in.
The Irish did this to great effect against the English in the 6N’s this year and it is certainly a tactic that teams are looking to use.
Ironically enough the Cheetahs in the few matches that they had Brussow on the field kept attackers on their feet so that Heinrich could strip them of the ball.
If players are allowed to bind to the ball carrier early then this area of the contest is hampered and the forward momentum the ball carrier gets going into contact with one or two guys already driving him creates an unfair advantage to the attacking team. So why did referees allow it?
Most worrying though are the changes that have been allowed at the clean out. This season players over the ball are being grasped over the shoulders and twisted to the ground.
The pressure that is being applied to player’s necks has me very worried for player safety – the Highlanders v Lions game had a sickening clean out it in it that was almost disastrous.
Apart from safety though this style of clean out is illegal in my opinion on two counts. The tackle rule has applications at the clean out in that you must use your arms and must connect below the shoulders – these cleanouts involve reaching over the shoulders so break that rule.
The breakdown has rules about collapsing – these are mainly applied at the maul but in a ruck you are still not allowed to pull a man off his feet. You can push or drive him off his feet but not pull down – these wrestling manoeuvres are a pull off the feet so I think they break that rule as well.
Does Paddy O’Brien read the Roar? Any referees on here – have I misunderstood the rulebook?
Tactically I think the last point I’ve made has the biggest impact as it influences a huge number of rucks.
Between this and allowing the dastardly opposition off their feet I think the ruck contest is not quite right at the moment. What do people think – any other rulings that seemed off to anyone?