Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching


New ruling on the tackle area by David Clarke
May 13, 2009, 8:07 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, ELVs, Rugby Refereeing | Tags: , ,

Here is the latest ruling on the tackle area from the IRB:

Ruling Request from the NZRU and ARU Laws 15 and 16

Law 15 6 (b) states:
After a tackle any players on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carrier’s possession.

Law 16.1 (b) states:
How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.

Law 16.4 (b) states:
(b) Players must not handle the ball in a ruck.

When a player has complied with Law 15 6 (b), is on his feet and playing the ball after a tackle and is then joined by an opposition player on his feet so that the situation outlined in 16 1 (b) occurs, can the player who has complied with Law 15 6 (b) continue to play the ball with his hands or at what point does he have to release the ball? This does not appear to be covered by Law.

Ruling

Law 15 6 (a) states: After a tackle, all other players must be on their feet when they play the ball.

Law 15.6 (b) reads: After a tackle any player on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carriers possession.

Law 15 5 (e) states that: If opposition players who are on their feet, the tackled player must release the ball. This indicates that after a tackle a player on his feet may play the ball.

Law 16 1 (b) states: How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.

Law 16.1 refers to a player from each side in physical contact over the ball and implies that the ball is not in the possession of any player.

Providing a player from either side on their feet after a tackle comply with all aspects of Law 15 and have the ball in their hands prior to contact with an opposition player on his feet those players may continue with possession of the ball even if a player from the opposition makes contact with those players in possession of the ball.

Any other players joining the two players contesting the ball must not handle the ball in accordance with Law 16.4 (b). If the ball is not in possession of any player after a tackle and a ruck is formed players may not use their hands in accordance with Law 16.4 (b).

The Ruling is effective from May 23 for the start of matches in the June window and after the close of any domestic or cross border competitions

Better Rugby Coaching

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15 Comments so far
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Yes! finially some clarification, I’ve always wondered about this as most refs tell you to let the ball go, even though you were the tackler, when the ruck formed. Very interesting to see how this is applied in practice though as this creates a legal way to slow the ball down now.

Comment by Ross

Surely if the player comeing in to the tackle area and players the ball so the ball now of the ground then the 1st opposition player comming in to play the player with the ball this becomes a maul so no call for ruck and hands out !!!!

Comment by FLETCH

As a referee, I would usually call “ruck”, “hands away” as soon as an opposition player joins to form a ruck. If the player competing for the ball hasn’t got it back by then I would expect them to let go of the ball. Under this new ruling it would appear that they can continue to compete for the ball, as long as they stay on their feet.

Comment by Lee Hancock

If I have interpreted this new ruling correctly (Please tell me if I haven’t)-The player on his feet contesting the ball from the tackled player may continue to do so EVEN if opposing players then arrive and form a ruck. I think this a very good ruling, as it will remove the ambiguity surrounding holding on\hands in the ruck issue and will allow a better contest at the break down. I feel that if the player on his feet is strong enough to compete for the ball and withstand the attempted clearing out from opposition players then he should be able to continue to have his hands on the ball.

Comment by Ruckoff

To me this means a player who challenges for the ball at the tackle area prior to the creation of a Ruck can continue to do so after the ruck has formed providing he maintains possesion of the ball – and it makes perfect sence.

Comment by Mark

Having read quite a few times now I think it is a charter for the jackler.

It will be in the interpretation of “in possession” that counts.

Anyway: some excellent rewordings here…thanks to all.

Comment by Dan Cottrell

If the tackler is contesting possession with the tackled player who, having been tackled is on the ground, and the ball is not on the ground then, even if opposition players join the contest, a ruck has not been formed as the ball is not in contact with the ground. As the tackled player has not released the ball after the tackle then he is guilty of “holding on” and a penalty should be awarded to the tackler.

Comment by bassferg

Amen. It’s about time there was a clear up of these laws.

As a player of 13 years, and a coach of the 4, it has always upset me to have agression to gain possession of the ball penalized.

Now having the laws clearcut, it should make the breakdowns a proper contest, without the close calls, that could go either direction by a referee in the moment.

Comment by kimberly

AS I HAVE RECENTLY RETIRED FROM RUGBY AND PLAYED AT DIFFERENT STANDARDS OF RUGBY THROUGHOUT THE LEAGUES RANGING FROM PREM TO DIV3 WELSH LEAGUE I TRUELY BELIEVE THAT UNTIL WE HAVE A CONSISTANT REFEREEING DESCISIONS AND FURTHER TRAINING FOR REFS IN UNDERSTANDING THE RUCK WE WOULD NEVER HAVE TO CHANGE THE LAWS, PLAYERS WILL PLAY EVERY GAME KNOWING WHAT THEY CAN AND CAN NOT DO AT RUCKS INSTEAD OF STARING AT THE REF THINKING CAN I CANT I, EVERY GAME I WATCH THE RUCK IS REFED DIFFERENTLY EVERYTIME!

Comment by eddie

This is an interesting clarification and will give the tackler a significant advantage. Currently the ARU Game Management Guidelines advise that if the tackler has his hands on the ball but the ball is in contact with the ground when a ruck forms (and remember the definition of a ruck) then the tackler must release the ball and its no hands from that point. This will mean that despite a ruck forming (as opposed to a maul) the tackler can maintain hands on the ball and attempt to create a maul situation or get the ball out to another player. Will make it interesting for the referee (and I’m one!).

Comment by Grant Lindsay

Potentially it could mean slower ball but more interestingly will it now mean a Re focus on low tackles and a real reward for genuine “jacklers”? There will have to be more of an emphasis placed on accuracy of the clean out (along with a need to work on hammers and latches pre contact) and will it now be realistically a case of “tackling the tacklers” I just hope all nations will give it a go as at current what we have is broke and needs fixing

Comment by Daniel

The real opensides will luv this…McCaw, Smith and Armitage will become even more of a threat at the tackle area.

Comment by Zed

Unless I’m mistaken, nothings changed???
If the tackler is on his feet he can gain possession UNLESS he’s ALREADY engaging with an opposition player……..in which case it’s a ruck and he can’t put his hands on the ball.
If he’s already gained possession BEFORE he’s been engaged by the opposition then it’s his ball and as he’s on his feet there never was a ruck. or am i missing something? – Browner

Comment by Kevin

Kevin May – I think there is a definite change and it applies in this scenario – A tackler on his feet contests for the ball from the tackled player (he does not have full possession at this point) opposition support players arrive and form a ruck, previously the referee would call ‘Hands off, ruck’. This is now not the case (as I see it), the tackler may continue to contest for the ball. The tackled player ‘should’ release the ball immediately, as we know this does not happen but now all the ref can do is penalise the tacked player for not releasing once a ruck is formed instead of penalising the tackler for hands in the ruck.

Comment by Ruckoff

Interesting debate and yet the essential test here seems to be the definition of ‘ball in their hands’. If a player has legally gathered/taken the ball (ie has it in his/her hands)at the tackle according to law 15 and the ball is not on the ground a ruck (according to its law 16 definition) cannot form.
So long as the ball, at the time of post-tackle contest, is a fraction off the ground no ruck can form. Any contact between the gathering player and the arriving player will form part of a new contest for the ball or subsequent tackle (albeit a split second apart). I’m not convinced that there is any change to the way the game is played in Australia per ARU game management guidelines. That’s not to say, however, that all refs apply the ARU guidance correctly. Lets hope the IRB’s ruling clarifies the situation.

Comment by Vegemite whistler




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