Two rounds down, eleven to go and the comments about the tackle law seem to be on the increase rather than decrease.
Before the start of the season Rob showed me a video clip that appeared on the blog of Springbok forwards coach Gary Gold. In the clip Gold basically reviews some of Heinrich Brussouw’s tackles that won penalties for the Springboks. He then goes on to explain that he believes that what Brussouw has been doing will STILL be legal under the new stricter application of the tackle law with emphasis being on the tackler to release the tackled player.
Key moments during the clip are at 2:29 where Gold says “He wasn’t the tackler that was off his feet, the whole time he was on his feet.” And at 2:49 he says “again through the whole time Heinrich has remained on his feet.” In both those instances and 3 further tackles Brussouw wins penalties for the Springboks by staying on his feet and playing the ball without releasing the tackled player.
Phil Waugh was penalised on two occasions this weekend, and so were numerous other players, for doing exactly what Gold believes is legal. Waugh has been quoted in the press as saying “At the moment I think that passive ball carries are getting rewarded and dominant tackles aren’t getting rewarded. I think we’ve got to be very careful in the game itself that we reward dominant tackles and perhaps that’s not happening at the moment.”
Waugh goes on to say “As the laws are applied and as the competition goes on, I think that contest will become more equal.” I sincerely hope he isn’t hoping that the refs will calibrate their calls and become more lenient as the season progresses. The referee who penalized him last night has ALREADY calibrated and is already more lenient than he was last weekend. That is a whole different discussion though. All I will say here is that the refs should not be calibrating during the season. Make the calls at the start of the season and stay with the same way of making the calls as the season progresses.
I agree with Gold’s comments, because as the law stands at the moment he seems to be 100% correct IMO. As far as I am aware none of the laws have been altered to accommodate the new stricter application of the laws.
Here are the definitions as set out at the beginning of the tackle law in the Law book.
1) A tackle occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground.
2) A ball carrier who is not held is not a tackled player and a tackle has not taken place.
3) Opposition players who hold the ball carrier and bring that player to ground, and who also go to ground, are known as tacklers.
4) Opposition players who hold the ball carrier and do not go to ground are not tacklers.
From the above (to me at least) it is clear that if a player is brought to ground but the player bringing him to ground does not also go to ground then a tackle has NOT occurred. It is there in black and white plain and simple. So why are the referees penalizing this? By all means be more strict on the tackle, but if the “tackler” doesn’t go to ground then it is not a tackle and the new stricter interpretation is not applicable.
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