A comprehensive overview of the key points that have much of the Rugby World up in arms. For more information from the original source – Rugby Dump
Upon reflection there have been many harsh words spoken. If we spoke to one another in person in the manner which we do so via social media,the world would be a much nastier place.
The bottom line is best captured by Lewis Moody’s response below and this line in particular.
"Let’s hold our selves to higher standards in rugby and not jump on the easy band wagon of criticising the ref who like all of us is only human and trying to officiate what was an incredible game of rugby."
This will go down as one of the most controversial Rugby World Cup referee decisions of all time. Let’s dive straight into it and sort it all out.
Referee Craig Joubert awarded Australia a kickable penalty in the dying minutes of the dramatic Australia v Scotland quarter final this weekend.
Australia kicked the goal and won 35 – 34.
Here it is, about 2:45 in this clip.
Many fans and ex-players were furious with the call, including ex-Scotland international Kenny Logan who said, “it was never a penalty, it was a knock on, and at the end of the game he ran down the tunnel like a scared rabbit…”
Matt Dawson tweeted:
On BBC Radio 5, Joubert was lambasted for running off the pitch immediately after the final whistle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2qwSBNACeWc
We’re going to dive into the nitty-gritty of the laws here, but before we do let me just say that the focus of this article is purely on the call itself.
Issues like why Joubert ran off the pitch, his quality as a referee, and World Rugby’s TMO policy are related but do not have anything to do with whether or not Craig Joubert made the right call. So let’s just put all that aside for now.
We’re focusing on this penalty and this penalty only.
So, was Craig Joubert correct or not?
First of all, here’s the definition of offside: “In general play a player is offside if the player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball, or in front of a team-mate who last played the ball.” (http://laws.worldrugby.org/?law=11)
Now, bear in mind that in rugby, players in an offside position are not automatically penalized. They are only penalized if they interfere with play.
Under this definition, as soon as the ball hits John Hardie’s shoulder and goes forward, the three shaded Scotland players are offside and will be penalized if they interfere with play. But, as you may expect, there is a twist coming.
Look at Law 11.3 Being put onside by opponents.
Here’s that section:
Ignore (a) and (b) but read (c) carefully. If an Australian player intentionally touches the ball, according to this law, the Scotland players are put onside:
Therefore, the question is: did Nick Phipps intentionally touch the ball or not?
Some (like Lewis Moody) say it simply bounced off Phipps’ chest and he never "intentionally" played it. Others see Phipps slap the ball backwards.
Watch it again and decide for yourself.
We also have to consider that this law was probably intended for when a player touches a kick with his fingertips and puts the kickers’ teammates onside, and may not have been meant to apply to this situation.
That said, the law is definitely in the books and doesn’t specify an application.
Here are two more twists for you to ponder.
Law 11.7 Offside after a knock-on says the following:
There is no question that Scotland’s #18 Jon Welsh prevented Australia from gaining an advantage. But if he was put onside by Law 11.3, doesn’t that rule out getting sanctioned for catching the ball since he was no longer offside?
There’s also Law 11.9 Loitering to consider:
Personally, I can’t see how this is relevant. By no stretch of the English language are David Denton or Jon Welsh “loitering” in an offside position.
They are clearly moving behind the ball when the ball comes off Phipps.
The Bottom Line
Personally, I (Graeme) think Phipps did intentionally touch it… after all, why else would he have his arms in the air near the ball if not to touch it? Though Moody disagrees, Rugbydump supports the thrust of his comments:
Joubert running off the field remains a mystery and there are other decisions (like the Maitland yellow card) to discuss but we’ll save those for another day.
We hope this helps shed some light on what the controversy is about.