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Clarification 2014 - 7

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Ruling 7-2014
Union / HP Ref Manager FPR
Law Reference 20
Date
26 November 2014
Request
The Federação Portuguesa de Rugby seeks clarification on the interpretation of Laws 20.9 (b) and (c).

Scenario

Team A are awarded a scrum. After winning the ball in the ensuing scrum, the hindmost player in that scrum grasps the ball with his feet or ankles and, whilst still bound to the scrum, bunny hops forwards with the ball still caught between his feet/ankles.

Is this action legal?

Law 20.9 Scrum - General Restrictions

"b) All players: Handling in the scrum. Players must not handle the ball in the scrum or pick it up with their legs.
c) All players: Other restrictions on winning the ball. Players must not try to win the ball in the scrum by using any part of their body except their foot or lower leg.
d) …"

Law 20.9 (b) appears to determine the action ("bunny hopping with the ball caught at the player's feet") illegal and liable to penalty. However, doubt arises as to whether "legs" mentioned in the sentence includes the feet. On the other hand, Law 20.9 (c) specifically mentions feet, so this would appear to tender the action legal.

Could you please clarify as there are diverse interpretations on this action across various countries and there appears to be ambiguity in the Laws of the Game?

 
 
Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
The action of “bunny hopping” as described is not permissible. Law 20.9 (b) states that: "All players: Handling in the scrum. Players must not handle the ball in the scrum or pick it up with their legs. Sanction: Penalty kick."

There is no ambiguity in this Law. Law 20.9 (c) refers to winning the ball whereas 20.9 (b) relates to play after the ball has been won.