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Clarification 2014 - 1

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Ruling 1-2014
Union / HP Ref Manager SARU
Law Reference 12
Date 9 May 2014
Law 12 – Knock-on

Law 12, definition states, “a knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.” The law does not explicitly cover scenarios where the ball is knocked-out of the grasp of a ball carrier.

We refer to ruling 4 of 2011 and believe the answer could come from this ruling.

Concern is expressed that this type of play may affect the game going forward as the “tackle” will be down played and the slapping, knocking the ball out of the ball carrier’s grasp will prevail.

However, for the sake of clarity and consistency of ruling by referees worldwide, in the following scenarios has a knock-on occurred?

  1. A ball carrier from team red runs with the ball in the direction of team blue goal line, a defender/tackler from team blue attempts to tackle from behind and makes contact with his hand on the ball. This action caused the ball to be lost “forward” from the ball carrier. The last contact on the ball was that of the defender before it went forward. Is this a knock on by player red or a play on as the blue tackler knocked the ball back – similar to a rip, ruling 4 of 2011?
  2. Same scenario as above but the defender/tackler does not make contact with the ball but his action causes the ball carrier from team Blue to loose possession of the ball and it travels forward. Please confirm that this is knock-on.
Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
If a player in tackling an opponent makes contact with the ball and the ball goes forward from the ball carriers hands, that is a knock on.

If a player rips the ball or deliberately knocks the ball from an opponent's hands and the ball goes forward from the ball carrier's hands, that is not a knock on.