When is a penalty not a fair penalty in rugby?

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    The departure of Dan Carter leaves a goal kicking gap for the All Blacks. (AAP Image/Photosport, Andrew Cornaga)

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    The issue of penalties and free kick counts (and loss of game time) has reared its ugly head once again with the latest scrum-engaging rules – which we thought they would help.

    Last weekend in both the Six Nations (with Walsh and Joubert presiding), and some Super Rugby games, there were countless resets, free kicks for going early, penalties resulting from the set being more of a charge than before, or not square (intentionally or otherwise).

    We could go on – referees seemed unable to get teams to rectify these issues. Much game time was lost and unnecessary momentum changes occurred.

    The point that continues to worry me is the almost random nature of certain penalties arising.

    These are the ones that the commentators go quiet over, or fudge their commentary. Now several are frequently given against the attacking team with no intent involved at all.

    I put in this category the almost certain penalty arising from a rolling maul that has good forward momentum, for pulling down the maul when it is almost always a defender who can’t stay on his feet and no intent at all.

    The argument too and fro on these points is vast and detailed – my concern is the consequence.

    On balance of scoring reward, a hard-to-fathom scrum penalty at three points on the 22 does not compare with a five-point try.

    I would argue that various ‘killing the ball’ penalties, playing on the ground, offside, etc deserve what they get now.

    Many games are won, lost, or momentum is reversed with these scores.

    With so many occurring, and the scrum technique in transition, it is time to seriously consider the non-kickable penalty.

    That is no kick at goal and remove this randomness from the game, and I do not mean a free kick here.

    It would still provide for a line kick retaining throw in to lineout and promote more five-point try potential.

    Finally I do not include all scrum infringements here. Penalties for infringements deemed with intent would remain full penalties.

    What do Roarers think? I know I am sick of seeing games taken out of reach by a late kick, the cause of which is fairly innocuous.

    And while on this – what can justify the repeated scrum feeds at 45 degrees into second row right in front of referees?

    It’s now got to the point where commentators talk about the extra shove from the non feed pack based on the extra man shoving – ie the hooker not hooking.

    Interestingly, the Lions are not SANZAR – what will be the interpretation there? I will groan if it throws up more kick able penalties!

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