Maintaining Focus No.1 – The Tackler
This is the first in a series of training and development resources to help referees and referee advisors/coaches “keep their brains going” until whenever the game restarts.
“Maintaining Focus No. 1 – The Tackler” provides a learning opportunity based on the recent World Rugby pronouncements on “The Tackle Area”, It is self-explanatory and is designed to do no more than ask members to consider issues that arise in the video clips provided by World Rugby.
It is recommended that you study the exercise clips one at a time rather than just letting them run without any analysis (don’t do too much at one go!!!!).
Please work through the questions for each clip before viewing the suggested responses in order to maximise your learning. (Click on the questions to reveal the responses.)
Clearly the clips represent what World Rugby considers to be good outcomes but there is plenty for us to understand and dissect and perhaps clarify issues we were unclear about.
Reminder from LAW 14: Tackle
Law 14.5. Tacklers must:
a. Immediately release the ball and the ball-carrier after both players go to ground.
b. Immediately move away from the tackled player and from the ball or get up.
The Tackler – Exercise 1
“Tackler must release”’
- Q1. In a tackle situation, is there only one nominated tackler or could there be more? A tackler is any opposition player who has contact with the ball carrier as the tackle is completed so there could be 2 or even 3 tacklers.
- Q2. Do you think referees tend to focus on the initial collision and contact rather than see the collective tackle which involves other defenders? Yes, especially at lower game levels, they tend to focus on the player who ends up on the ground with the carrier and not others who may remain on their feet. However, more teams have developed the style of tackling one low and one high and as the focus on high tackles has increased there is a growing pressure to focus on the tackler who goes high to constrict ball continuity or dislodge the ball rather than the tackler primarily bringing the ball carrier to ground. This brings about a degree of ‘ball watching’ rather than ‘tackle watching’.
- Q3. Should the title above be ‘TacklerS must release’? Yes – for clarity
- Q4. In the first part of the clip white 1 makes the initial contact on the blue player and is joined by white 3. Is W3 a ‘tackler’, if so what makes him a tackler? W3 is in contact with the blue carrier as the tackle completes i.e. the carrier is held on the floor, therefore must release immediately..
- Q5. W1 releases and clears away. W3 does not and is penalised. Correct decision?Yes. W3 did not clearly release before competing for the ball.
- Q6. The referee sees the initial collision but carries on running into a chariot position. The offence was clear but could the referee have adopted a better position? E.g. slow up when likely collision identified? Continued infield and move to the gain line? What would be your preference?The referee was probably trying to get in-field but the initial collision was effective as a tackle with supporting players which meant he was running into a blind spot until he emerged into in-field. Ideally he should have slowed in the position to best see the emerging tackle but, in this case, having got into chariot he should have quickly got round to the in-field.
- Q7. W3 contact looks high. Why did the referee take no action? Not material/didn’t see it/doubtful positioning allowed other players to enter line of sight?If we’re generous we might say Blue 10 unsighted him. If he saw it he should have responded with a) PK high or b)stern words as to future behaviour. PK high is better option as it is easier for players and spectators to understand especially as the high tackle is a main key focus/safety issue.
- Q1. How many tackler(s) are there? Georgia 13 is penalised. Correct decision? 2 tacklers. Correct decision, no clear release.
- Q2. The referee’s line of running allows him a clear view of the tackle. How is it different from the first example?He gets directly to the tackle and has a clear view which provides confidence in decision making as well as improved accuracy.
- Q3.The referee signals advantage. Is this appropriate? Is this ‘cultural’ or ‘intelligent’ advantage?The referee signals advantage as a primary and then follows with an immediate secondary ‘no clear release’. The secondary should be saved for later. The time spent on the secondary would be better spent repositioning for the advantage he has awarded and monitoring the potential offsides of the defenders. This is ‘cultural’ advantage because he has not assessed the likelihood of ‘real’ advantage as he has not recognised the man on man defensive positions of the defenders which would probably curtail real advantage. An immediate penalty including the option for a quick tap may have been a better option.
- Q1. Who are the tackler(s)? Green 12, green 7.
- Q2. Describe the sequence of events from the moment G7 enters the tackle. G7 makes contact with the ball carrier and holds her as she goes to ground completing the tackle. G12 who made the initial contact clears away, G7 does not. She stays on her feet but does not release the ball or carrier.
- Q3. G7 might claim that she is ‘playing the ball’ not making a tackle? Is there a difference?No difference. The law says release ball and carrier. 14.5a
- Q4. G7 would claim she is on her feet. Why, then, is she penalised.? As above, she has not released the ball or carrier.
- Q5. Does B10 prevent G7 from releasing? Irrelevant. The onus is on the tackler to release.
- Q6. Can you think of a better position for the referee to guarantee accurate decision making? The referee maintained a good position, appeared to see what was likely to happen and focused on the event (tackle not ball). Could be accused of not getting there earlier for managing ‘call’.
- Q7. Should/could the referee have called ‘release’ earlier?Ideally he should have called as soon as G7 failed to release but he was reasonably quick. It could also be argued that his timing ensured that his correct decision was easily understood by delaying a second or two. Others might argue that an immediate PK sets a better preventative standard.
- Q1. Identify the tackler(s). Black 1 & 4
- Q2. The referee slows his run in anticipation of the collision. He has a good view of the event but is he too close? Not too close but unnecessarily close. He calls ‘Away 4’. Had she complied quickly and Red recycled, he could have impeded progress and is not well positioned to progress to the next phase.
- Q3. Is his immediate secondary signal correct?No. Looks more like ‘not releasing the ball’ than ‘no clear release’ .
- Q4. He blows a second time for ‘time off’. What might be the reason for the ‘time off’? Growing penalty count warning? Repeated offence warning? B21 delaying access to red for quick tap?
The Tackler – Exercise 2
“Once the tackle is complete, the tackler may contest possession, providing that the player is on their feet, has shown a clear release of the ball and tackled player and arrives from the direction of their own goal line.”
- Q1. Check the actions of W13. Is he on his feet, shown clear release of ball and tackler, and arrived from his own side? All aspects correctly applied. Facts confirmed by referee’s call.
- Q2. Is W13’s right knee still on the ground when he starts to contest for the ball or has he begun his counter-ruck prior to contest for the ball? W13 is ‘getting to his feet’ and entitled to use R21 as a ruck contact to help support his weight.
- Q1. W19 releases the ball carrier and contests for the ball. What decides if he is ‘on his feet’,’ bearing his own weight’ in the contest? The referee is well positioned to see W19’s activities in the contest. W19 releases the carrier and addresses the ball. The referee must decide if he makes contact first with the ball of the ground. In either case, he appears balanced and ‘on his feet’.
- Q2. At the point of contest W19’s hands are either on the ground or on the ball. Does this make a difference?Yes. If he can get weight on the ball without ground contact he is legal. Hands on the floor prior to ball contact is not legal.
- Q3. The referee says ‘He was on his feet. He made the turnover.’ Describe the quality of the statement. (Positive/helpful/necessary/unnecessary/sufficient/pointless)? Not strictly necessary but positive and helpful. Provides clarity and allows continuity.
- Q4. The referee was well placed to observe the event. Why is he then so slow ‘off the mark’ when W break down the blind side? Where was he aiming for? He is very engaged with his ‘made the turnover’ comment. He is in ‘walking and talking mode’ and is still managing the tackle, not anticipating the next phase. He appears to be walking towards a chariot position but then has to take a short cut at pace to make up for it. He will be aware of the AR’s position if necessary but not a good picture.
- Q1. G19 & 20 make the tackle. G20 ‘releases’ the tackler and ball but maintains contact with the blue player (left hand). Does this matter? Technically the release is not complete but neither is it preventing Blue from releasing the ball. On balance, correct decision.
- Q2. The referee seems to be making a correctly angled run towards the tackle but then veers towards a chariot position. Is this wise? Can he actually see what G20 is doing? Where would he be best placed? As he approaches, the referee has a good view of the developing event and of G20’s actions. What he can’t see is G20’s left hand. Better to maintain an angled view of the tackle area. He allows ample time for blue to release. As above, correct decision.
The Tackler – Exercise 3
“The Tackler must roll away.”
- Q1. W13 makes the tackle and makes no attempt to roll away. The referee makes no verbal intervention. How would you assess this lack of intervention? Correct/unmanaged/unhelpful?Only 1.05 minutes into the game. At this level players know the laws so non compliance can be judged to be deliberate and cynical. The referee signals advantage for not rolling away. However, prompt verbal management and compliance MAY have allowed rapid recycling in a very strong attacking position close to the goal line and white in disarray. Unmanaged, unhelpful. Sorry Nigel. At lower levels reasons for the decision may need to be explained.
- Q2. The referee signals advantage. Cultural (the expected) or intelligent advantage?
White are in disarray and clustered in a narrow area. However, given the position of the defence and slow ball, it is unlikely that real advantage will ensue for a number of phases. While this is ‘cultural’ advantage, given the early stages of the game, team strengths had not been established and so advantage may be worth a go. Alternatively, an immediate PK and with the obvious offer of a quick tap, the defence in disarray and the lure of early points on the board make the PK a better option.
- Q3. Yellow card? Why or why not? Clear cynical offence in try scoring area. Yellow card. It might be claimed that this is very early in an international to reduce a side to 14 and the defence was getting back into the game. However, the offence slowed ball to a standstill and deprived Blue of the option to use either side of the ruck.
- Q1. B14 makes the tackle. Initially seems to be wriggling to escape. Why is she penalised?She re-engages with the ball to slow release. Getting trapped is not an excuse.
- Q2. Referee calls 'Roll'. How would you assess this intervention? Correct/managing/unnecessary?Correct and timely. Prompt compliance would have provided a scoring chance. Positive intervention.
- Q3. Can B14 roll without interfering with arriving white players?
Some interference is inevitable and W13 seems to lock B14 into the ruck. However, she could still have rolled in the same space and made her hands visible to the referee.
- Q4. Does she go back to the contest while on the floor? Yes. No attempt to get to roll and she appears to interfere with the ball with her hands while on the floor.
- Q5. The referee points to the place of offence. What options is she giving to the White team?The referee calls ‘There’ without cluttering up the ‘mark’. This allows the option of a very advantageous quick tap with blues in retreat. If they choose not to tap, set piece options are available. Good refereeing.
- Q6. Yellow card for B14? Why or why not?Unless high penalty count or repeated offence, probably not. Although offence eventually cynical, first reaction to roll was a positive.
- Q1. Who are the tackler(s)?Blue 6, 4 and 1 although B4 is a close call and may have achieved contact after the tackle was complete.
- Q2. The penalised player is blown far too slow. What does the referee mean? Could the player have got away earlier?The referee is suggesting that B1 could have rolled away but chose not to. W3 clearly holds B1 on the floor. The answer lies in the unnecessary angle of B1’s engagement in the tackle. He could have cleared away in a different direction but chose to impede recycling and to slow down continuity. The referee, understandably, does not want to be tied to a definition of ‘immediate’ but should have called ‘not rolling’ rather than ‘too slow’.
- Q3.Is the referee penalising reality or his perception of the blue player’s intent? He is looking for a cultural phrase which is quick even if it is inaccurate in detail. He should use phrases from law not short cuts.
© Manchester & District Rugby Union Referees’ Society Ltd June 2020