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Clarification 2014 - 8

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Ruling 8-2014
Union / HP Ref Manager FPR
Law Reference 13
Date 26 November 2014
Request
The Federação Portuguesa de Rugby seeks clarification on the following scenario relating to the Laws of the Game, concerning the Seven-a-side game in which there appears to be some confusion or ambiguity.

Scenario

Team A are awarded a 22 drop-out. The kick is correctly executed and the ball enters the opposing team's in-goal area without having touched or been touched by a player in the process. A defending player picks up the ball within this area and touches down, making the ball dead.

What should the referee's decision be?

Law 13 Definitions state:

"The kick-off occurs at the start of each half of the match and at the beginning of each period of extra time. Restart kicks occur after a score or a touchdown."

Law 13.10 Definitions state:

"Drop-out: A drop-out is a drop kick taken by the defending team. The drop-out may be taken anywhere on or behind the 22-metre line. A drop-out is used to restart play after an attacking player has put or taken the ball into the in-goal, without infringement, and a defending player has made the ball dead there or it has gone into touch-in­ goal or on or over the dead ball line."

Law 13.15 Drop-out goes into the opponent's in-goal states:

"a) If the ball is kicked into the opponent's in-goal without having touched or been touched by a player, the opposing team has three choices:

  • to ground the ball,
  • or to make it dead,
  • or to play on.

b) If the opposing team grounds the ball, or makes it dead, or if the ball becomes dead by going into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, they have two choices:

  • to have a scrum formed at the centre of the 22-metre line from where the kick was taken and they throw in the ball, or
  • to have the other team drop-out again.

c) If they opt to ground the ball or make it dead, they must do so without delay. Any other action with the ball by a defending player means the player has elected to play on."

Further to this, the Seven-a-side Variations state:

The Laws of the Game apply to the seven-a-side game, subject to the following variations.

The variations presented for Law 13 end at Law 13.9. In the fifteen-a-side game, that Law refers to (Kick-off) ball goes into the in-goal. Thus, if no variations are presented for the incidents surrounding the drop-out, the "normal" Laws should be applied.

Hence, our understanding is that in the seven-a-side game, in the event of a 22 drop-out travelling into the opposing team's in-goal area without touching or having been touched by a player in the process and a defending player grounds the ball without any delay, the referee's decision should be to apply Law 13.15. (option between a scrum on the 22 where the kick was taken or ask to repeat the drop-out).

In other words, the Free Kick sanction applied in the seven-a-side game for infringements surrounding the kick-off does not apply to the restart kick ("22 drop-out"). Similarly, this would apply to a drop-out being incorrectly taken (Law 13.12), not crossing the 22-metre line (Law 13.13) or kicked directly into touch (13.14).

Is this interpretation correct?

 
 
Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
This interpretation is correct. For drop-outs normal 15 a-side sanctions apply.

Law 13.15: Drop-out goes into the opponents in-goal

"(b) If the opposing team grounds the ball, or makes it dead, or if the ball becomes dead by going into touch-in-goal or on or over the dead ball line, they have two choices:

  • To have a scrum formed at the centre of the 22-metre line from where the kick was taken and they throw in the ball, or
  • To have the other team drop-out again"