Rolland’s ref rules rile rugby fans

2008-11-14 00:00

WHAT was to be a friendly reunion between Allain Rolland and John Smit on Saturday was a less pleasant affair after the Test between South Africa and Wales in Cardiff. Rolland was the referee when South Africa beat England in the World Cup final last year, but all that was forgotten when he pitched up unprepared on Saturday. There were several little errors and dubious judgments by the match officials that frustrated the Springboks.

South Africa might have beaten Wales by a bigger margin if Rolland had applied the new laws properly. The Boks were the only side on the field in the first 10 minutes and racked up a 10-point lead. After that things started going pear-shaped as Rolland compounded error after error.

In the 11th minute, Ruan Pienaar kicked down the right touchline and the ball came to rest inside the Wales 22-metre area against the line. Lee Byrne (Wales) cleverly (he thought) picked it up with one foot in touch. Byrne went for the quick throw-in that Bismarck du Plessis knocked down.

Firstly, the lineout should have been to the Springboks. Byrne took the ball out by picking it up after it came to rest in the field of play.

Law 19 DEFINITIONS

The ball is in touch if a player catches the ball and that player has a foot on the touchline or the ground beyond the touchline.

If a player has one foot in the field of play and one foot in touch and holds the ball, the ball is in touch.

A player in touch may kick or knock the ball, but not hold it, provided it has not crossed the plane of the touchline. The plane of the touchline is the vertical space rising immediately above the touchline.

Secondly, Byrne stood inside the field of play when he took the throw-in, which should have resulted in the Boks chosing a lineout or scrum.

Law 19.5

HOW THE THROW-IN IS TAKEN

The player taking the throw-in must stand at the correct place. The player must not step into the field of play when the ball is thrown. The ball must be thrown straight, so that it travels at least five metres along the line of touch before it first touches the ground or touches or is touched by a player.

19.6 INCORRECT THROW-IN

(a) If the throw-in at a line-out is incorrect, the opposing team has the choice of throwing in at a line-out or a scrum on the 15-metre line ….

Thirdly, a penalty was given against Bismark du Plessis for not allowing the ball to travel the five metres for a quick throw-in, when the correct sanction is a free-kick.

Law 19.2 (g)

At a quick throw-in, a player must not prevent the ball being thrown in five metres. Penalty: Free-kick on 15-metre line.

The correct decision in this case should have been a line-out to South Africa, but a lot of silly law errors by the match officials changed the momentum of the match.

In the 31st minute, Ruan Pienaar chipped over the Welsh backs, attacking the Welsh goal-line.

Byrne came across in cover, gathered the ball and dotted it down. The referee ordered a drop-out. The TV replay showed Byrne clearly carried the ball over and Rolland was in no position to make his call. He should have asked for the TMO as all decisions regarding grounding of the ball in the in-goal can be referred. Allain Rolland was the referee in the World Cup Final, but I fear if we see him again in the coming season it would be too soon.

•Michael Katzenellenbogen is a former Test and Super 14 referee who lives in Pietermaritzburg. Your views to refscorner@mweb.co.za

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