Maintaining Focus No. 3 – First Arriving Player at a Tackle
This is the third 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.3 – First Arriving Player at a Tackle” provides a learning opportunity based on the recent World Rugby pronouncements on “The Tackle Area”. The focus is on “The First Arriving Player” and his/her responsibilities. 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 of some relevant points from LAW 15: Ruck
- Once a ruck has formed, no player may handle the ball unless they were able to get their hands on the ball before the ruck formed and stay on their feet.
- Players must endeavour to remain on their feet throughout the ruck.
First Player Arriving at a Tackle – Exercise 1
World Rugby Focus: i) A “jackler” is a player who wins possession of the ball before a ruck forms; ii) Reward the player who wins the race for possession; iii) Remove the concept of the jackler “surviving the clear out” by opposition players; iv) The jackler must be in a strong position to try and lift, with hands on the ball.
- Q1. Green 4 makes a tackle. Is G3 a tackler or a ‘jackler’? G3 is not a tackler because she has no contact with Y8 as she goes to ground. G3 is a jackler because she contests for the ball, on her feet, before the ruck is formed.
- Q2. If G3 had been a ‘tackler’, what would be her first responsibility? Her first responsibility would be to release both ball and ball carrier.
- Q3. If G3 is a ‘jackler’ as defined above, does she fulfil the description?She does fulfil the jackler description because she addresses the ball, not the ball carrier, she maintains her own weight (not ‘off her feet’) and is in a strong position to lift the ball.
- Q4. G3 stays on her feet and maintains her own weight by using the ball as a prop. Is this allowed?Yes. She is not leaning on the ball carrier and is in a good position to lift the ball.
- Q5. The referee blows for a PK. Correct decision? Should he have blown earlier?The decision is correct. In the absence of any attempt to verbally manage the release of the ball by the carrier and any indication or possibility of advantage, he could and should have blown earlier. In not doing so he risks further and potentially more serious offence and a “quick, decisive” whistle at incidents such as this emphasises the referees focus/demand on quick release/movement at the tackle – sets and maintains the right message to players. published
- Q6. His secondary signal is for ‘Not releasing the ball immediately in a tackle’. Comment on: a) His ordering of verbal and visual signalling; b) The helpfulness, value and necessity of his verbals; c) The use of ‘good steal’ and ‘3 on feet’ as descriptors; d) The absence of the use of law terms to describe the PK offence.a) The primary signal is clear and correct. Whistle good, Signal good, Explanation unclear and makes no mention of Y8 not releasing the ball. Simple message of “Y8 no release” is all that is needed.
b) Verbals should be ‘Yellow 8 not releasing’. All other comments unnecessary, of little value or help.
c) References to ‘good steal’, which never happened, and ‘3 on feet’ sound more like a justification than judgement. Unnecessary. Use of player terminology, which occasionally doesn’t match the laws, seems to be used by some referees to show their empathy with the players – this is unnecessary and can lead to confusion possibly coming from use in different coaching environments.
d) The absence of the use of law terms to describe the PK offence. Keep it simple and in terms the players are familiar with. Leaves players in no doubt.
- Q1. Who are the ‘tackler(s)? (Numbers not names!!!)Blue 6 and Blue 18, although B6 may have lost contact with the ball carrier prior to his going to ground.
- Q2. Does B18 fulfil his obligations?Yes, but at a pace which reflects his front row status! Even more so if the prop plays at lower levels. ‘Thank you 18?’ At top level, B18’s direction of movement might be questioned.
- Q3. Comment on the referee’s positioning for this decision.Initially, the referee is well positioned to see the phase development. He doesn’t need to move to this forward position. He has not attempted to verbally manage the play and there is no possibility of advantage or of a quick tap. He has kept the ball in sight and is focussed on the issues but has put obstacles in his way in preparation for the next phase.
- Q4. B7 is on his feet when he makes contact with the ball carrier who is on the ground but is he still on his feet when he makes contact with the ball? (Slo-mo view).Perhaps not, but the dynamics of the situation, his positive play and attempts to stay up win him the contest.
- Q5. Is this still a good refereeing position?To be published
- Q6. Correct decision?In the grand scheme of things – yes.
- Q1. Blue 9 makes the tackle and clears away. Does B7 fulfil all the descriptors for a ‘jackler’?She does fulfil the jackler description because she addresses the ball, not the ball carrier, she maintains her own weight (not ‘off her feet’) and is in a strong position to lift the ball.
- Q2. The referee seems to be waiting to see if blue will win the ball and allow play to continue. Is this a reasonable strategy?Yes. In the interests of ‘ball in play’ time, demonstrable willingness to allow and encourage contest and rewarding legal action, this is good decision making. An alternative reasonable strategy would be ‘White release!’ giving blue a chance at good advantage but the dynamics might suggest that a release would be unlikely.
- Q3. He penalises white for ‘Holding on’ then adds ‘6 blue on their feet’. Apart from it being 7 blue, is his description necessary/sufficient/helpful? Can you think of an alternative description which is more accurate/helpful to players? (e.g. ‘Legal turnover’?).Decision should be whistle, primary signal, explanation ‘White 12 not releasing’. Decision obvious so no need for further elaboration but,if asked,‘Blue 7 on her feet entitled to contest the ball.’
- Q1. Green 3 makes the tackle. G7 makes contact. Is he a ‘tackler’? If not, why not?G7 has already released White 12 before W12 hits the floor. He is therefore NOT a tackler.
- Q2. Is G7 a ‘jackler’? If so what makes him one?G7 IS a jackler because he fulfils all the conditions of the definition, i.e. he contests for the ball, on his feet, before the ruck is formed.
- Q3. The referee says ‘Turnover fine.’ Is this necessary/sufficient/helpful?Not strictly necessary but certainly sufficient as an explanation and probably helpful in that it curtails any debate around the actions of G7.
- Q4. Doubt about whether G7 to G3 is forward. The referee moves to ‘chariot’. Why? Is he expecting the ball to be recycled? Is this a reasonable expectation in this case? Where would you have gone?The referee is probably trying to locate the ball, which is no bad thing. Given the position of the ball carrier and the white support he could reasonably expect the ball to be recycled at any level of rugby. He is caught by surprise by the turnover and is slow to react, not starting to run until the ball has left G2’s hands. No evidence of AR input (not usually available in Society matches anyway). Re referee’s positioning, no specific criticism, hindsight’s a great thing, just a refereeing incident.
- Q1. Comment on the referee’s starting position prior to this tackle.Not a good position – off the pace, almost in the 5m. Lots of catching up to do especially at this level.
- Q2 Green 17 makes the tackle. G18 ‘jackles’. Is it a legal ‘jackle’?G18 is not a tackler and legally aims for the ball on the floor before any ruck forms. See below.
- Q3. G18’s right hand makes contact with the ground. The referee calls ‘good turnover’. Is he right? Is his decision acceptable? Why?In spite of the contact with the ground, G18 is on his feet and very largely bearing his own weight, not in contact with the ball carrier, no clear resetting. Given the dynamic and late arrival of Blue support, it would be very hard to disallow the jackle based on the degree of support given by the ground. Decision acceptable and reinforced by prompt ‘Good turnover’.
- Q4. If you decide that the jackle is not legal, what impact does the referee’s call have on the play?Indicates clear decision making process, precludes questions and encourages continuity. World Rugby Focus: The jackler must support their body weight throughout; no going to ground and then resetting.
First Player Arriving at a Tackle – Exercise 2
The jackler must support their body weight throughout; no going to ground and then resetting.
- Q1. Compare the benefits or otherwise of this referee’s angled stance to the tackle compared with the previous examples of the chariot position.?Moves quickly to angled view avoiding players, allowing him to referee not only the tackle area but also off sides and any potential next phase.
- Q2. Why do you think he calls ‘advantage’ and then immediately signals PK?Pavlovian response to ‘cultural’ advantage. Could be a safety call as Y2 arrives and prepares to use her boot ready to release the ball. ‘Release green’ might have been a better play.
- Q3. Green 7 is penalised for ‘off feet’. Correct??Not on feet, lying on ball carrier, negative play, slowing development. Correct call.
- Q1. How many tacklers?Y15 and Y14. Both in contact with ball carrier as he goes to ground.
- Q2. Does Y14 clearly release?No, his right arm remains in contact with the ball carrier on the ground.
- Q3. The referee says ‘Off feet’. Which decision would be most convincing, ‘No release’ or ‘Off feet’?Apart from the fact that ‘No clear release’ is the first offence, it is also the most credible and easily understood by players and spectators.
- Q4. Correct decision?A PK for either offence would be correct in this case as he is clearly not bearing his own weight as he contests for the ball.
© Manchester & District Rugby Union Referees’ Society Ltd June 2020