Moving in the right direction

Written by Morné Nortier (Morné)

Posted in :Original Content, Super 14 on 1 Feb 2010 at 09:53
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The talk prior to the start of the Super 14 is the breakdown, and after all is said and done, from what I have seen I believe we are moving in the right direction.

I think I want to start off with the fact that the ‘new’ laws at the breakdown are in fact, not new at all, but has been around for many a year now.

What has changed is the referee’s applying (in my view) these laws correctly for the first time.

Let’s cover the law itself first, or what has changed.

Now apart from quoting it verbatim the change from the referee’s point of view is that they will concentrate a lot more on the ‘Tackler’ than the ‘Tackled Player’ as they have been in the past. The same laws still apply, but there will now be little leniency showed to the ‘Tackler’ which in the past has been largely ignored.

So what does the law say?

We all basically know this but it says;

• In a tackle situation the ‘Tackled Player’ must be allowed to place the ball (in any direction). This he must do immediately.
• The ‘Tackler’ must first release the ‘Tackled Player’ before he is allowed to play the ball.
• The ‘Tackler’ must be on his feet before he is allowed to play the ball.

That is the short of it. Obviously not forgetting the other laws that goes with this like rolling away in the tackle, entering through the gate, no hands once a ruck has formed and no side entry.

What has changed now however from how this law was applied in the past, is that the referee’s will keep a very close eye on the tackler, and ensure that there is ‘daylight’ between him and the tackled player, before he is allowed to attack or play the ball. This will be the case even if the ‘Tackler’ never goes to ground but stay on his feet – he has to ‘release’ the tackled player first before he is allowed to play the ball.

This is logical though, and frankly I am surprised it has taken so long to get the thieving, cheating bastards out of the game (read fetchers).

Just consider the actions when a tackle takes place…

Player A tackles player B, now the law states that player B has a right to place the ball (before anything else happens), however, since player A perfected their techniques in sliding over players never letting go of his arms, body or ball player B was never allowed to do what the law permits him to do.

Result, player A gets rewarded (penalty for player B hanging onto the ball) although it is in direct contravention of the law itself.

Fact is, fetchers never ever ‘released’ the tackled player as is required by law, which would have allowed him to place the ball.

The lawmakers also believe that this new law will allow for players to enter the ruck at a higher angle because there is no fetcher sliding over or lying on the tackled player – he has to completely release the player, get to his feet (if not already on it) and then play the ball. Support players will then be entering the ruck with have a higher shoulder over hips entry point.

Another positive thing about these law changes is that we will see the counter ruck make a comeback.

The tackle area will become a huge collision area again where players who stay on their feet will be rewarded and where quicker ruck ball will be the name of the game.

In many ways a lot of guys think South Africa will suffer, and yes we are not the best at quick recycling in this area but when it comes to big collisions and counter rucking, we could, and should be able to dominate this area provided our players learn to stay on their feet.

The result of the law change for me is simple.

We will see more quick ruck ball resulting in a quicker, more exciting game or brand of rugby as well as players now being forced to stay on their feet. However, this area will also become a haven for the guys who like the physical stuff

For once the laws are applied correctly, and for once we are moving in the right direction.

It is best summed up by Schalk Burger himself following Friday night’s game against the Sharks, where the Sharks dominated the tackled area in the first half and won a couple of balls through counter rucking with the Stormers pinned quite a bit.

Schalk said; “It was impossible to steal a ball tonight”, and rightly so – the idea of the game of union was always a fair contest for the ball, not thieving.

All that is left now, is to bring back rucking to get rid of players lying on the wrong side of the ruck…


  • I agree this should solve the problem…I just hope the players adjust sooner rather than later so we can see games flowing better and not the wistle fest we saw on Friday.

  • Comment 1, posted at 01.02.10 10:27:45 by Pokkel (can't wait for the S14 to start) Reply
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  • The way the Sharks got stuck in in the first half was a revelation to me. Counter-rucking, so often neglected in the past, could be our trump card this year. I am worried, though, that this interpretation might skew things ridiculously in favour of the attacking side. Being able to compete at the tackle is the one thing that prevents union from turning into league…

  • Comment 2, posted at 01.02.10 10:31:17 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 2) :

    Valid concern but in League the tackle area is almost a non-collission area, whereas in union I think it will become a massive collission area.

  • Comment 3, posted at 01.02.10 10:35:11 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 3) : well, I guess teams will learn how to contest legally. I reckon this is going to up the stakes quite dramatically for tight forwards. Ruck participation is going to be completely non negotiable bot on attack and defence, so we should see less of them loitering in the backline. They’ll need to be fitter, for one thing

  • Comment 4, posted at 01.02.10 10:39:05 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 4) :

    I said this 3 weeks ago.

    We do not appreciate how this law is going to change the game.

  • Comment 5, posted at 01.02.10 10:40:47 by Morné Reply
  • @robdylan (Comment 2) : We might get some ball through counter rucking…….and then what????Give it to the backline???

  • Comment 6, posted at 01.02.10 10:41:46 by Pokkel (can't wait for the S14 to start) Reply
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  • Hoping the ref’s no don’t swing the pendulum in the opposite direction and ignore infringements from the attacking player…like not releasing the ball quickly enough.

  • Comment 7, posted at 01.02.10 10:42:46 by Just a Fan Reply

    Just a Fan
  • @Just a Fan (Comment 7) : that’s kinda what worries me. I saw players being blown for not coming through the gate when they clearly did. The intention is very good, but are the refs good enough to actually blow it right? I can just see the Dickensons and Lawrences of the world using this as an excuse to blow SA teams right out of a game

  • Comment 8, posted at 01.02.10 10:50:28 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Pokkel (can’t wait for the S14 to start) (Comment 6) : our backs are best off stolen opposition ball, aren’t they? It’s on our ball that they don’t have a clue 🙂

  • Comment 9, posted at 01.02.10 10:52:40 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 9) : True

  • Comment 10, posted at 01.02.10 12:02:58 by Pokkel (can't wait for the S14 to start) Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 5) : as long as the refs can get it right, dude. I kinda wish they’d rather trialled it in the Currie Cup last year so we could have got everyone up to speed before the Super 14. Reckon we’re going to see the first 4 rounds disappear into a mire of penalties until everybody settles down.

  • Comment 11, posted at 01.02.10 12:15:22 by robdylan Reply
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  • @robdylan (Comment 11) :

    I seriously dont see the problem with the referees for these adaptations.

    In fact, I am surprised the refs took so long before they decided to blow the laws as it is supposed to.

    If anything, the way it was done in the past created all the shoddy dark or areas

  • Comment 12, posted at 01.02.10 12:26:17 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 12) : it’s cos they’re dof 🙂

  • Comment 13, posted at 01.02.10 12:35:43 by robdylan Reply
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  • I’m watching Fort Hare vs UWC and it’s penalty after penalty after penalty. Hopefully the Sharks adapt and learn faster than these guys.

  • Comment 14, posted at 01.02.10 12:41:41 by rhineshark Reply
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  • @rhineshark (Comment 14) : here’s hoping 🙂

  • Comment 15, posted at 01.02.10 13:52:46 by robdylan Reply
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  • @ Morne`
    here is what i still see as a contradiction, perhaps u can please make sence of it to me.
    If player A tackles Player B (player B now has the right to place the ball)
    Player A must release the Player B and be on his feet before he is allowed to play the ball.
    BUT… If Player B is not held in the tackle or is released, he can take the ball, and carry on.
    (mayb this has changed or i have a misunderstanding, but i recall commentary of “he got up again carried on as he was not held in the tackle”.)
    With that said, why on God’s sweat rugby fields would Player A ever want to risk releasing player B esp if no other forwards are at the tackle zone)

    Please educate me!

  • Comment 16, posted at 01.02.10 14:45:48 by kevmaestro Reply

  • @kevmaestro (Comment 16) : Good question, I’ve also wondered.

    @Morné (Comment 3) : And another thing that I constantly see that is never punished is the blatant holding back of defenders by the attacking team around the fringes of the rucks and mauls. How many times do we see players hitting opposition players arms to try and free themselves so they can defend? Surely this is not allowed.

  • Comment 17, posted at 01.02.10 14:51:14 by Pokkel Reply
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  • commentators have obviously been told to be very positive about the new interpretations. It’s frankly a little embarrassing. Someone should get Naas a clean pair of undies.

  • Comment 18, posted at 01.02.10 15:11:40 by robdylan Reply
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  • @kevmaestro (Comment 16) :

    You need to understand exactly what a tackle is I believe.

    First rule and golden rule of rugby:


    If someone is not on their feet, you are not allowed to play the ball.

    The tackled player has certain rights which supercedes this, provided he does so immediately.

    This includes placing the ball, or passing the ball. (While still on the ground).

    A TACKLE however is defined when the ball carrier is tackled (contact made), and BROUGHT TO GROUND by that player (tackler).

    What you have at times with the; “He was not held” is that the interpretation is that although the tackler attempted to tackle the player (bring him to ground), contact in the process of the tackle (going to ground) was lost. Think of an ankle-tap.

    The guy made contact with the ball carrier, but the guy only fell 2 meters further after losing his balance – this means he was not ‘held in the tackle’.

    If the ball carrier is tackled (gone to ground) the only way he is allowed to play the ball, or carry on with the ball, is if he releases the ball, gets up and then plays the ball again.

    Does this make sense to you?

    @Pokkel (Comment 17) :

    You are not allowed to obstruct players from legally playing or contesting the ball, or ball carrier, but yeah it happens quite a bit but in all honesty mate, it happened at U/9 level with me already.

  • Comment 19, posted at 01.02.10 15:23:39 by Morné Reply
  • @Morné (Comment 19) :
    Yeah. it does. thanks
    so what we are saying is that the tackled player (meeting the definition of a tackle) has a right to attempt getting back to his feet pick up the ball and play on. This is so as the tackler has to release the tackled player.
    is it not?

  • Comment 20, posted at 01.02.10 16:27:32 by kevmaestro Reply

  • @kevmaestro (Comment 20) : he does, yeah

  • Comment 21, posted at 01.02.10 16:44:06 by robdylan Reply
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  • @Morné (Comment 19) : Doesn’t make it right though even at u/0 level 🙄

  • Comment 22, posted at 02.02.10 13:15:09 by Pokkel Reply
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