Loose Pass: Mark Telea’s tap, Grant Williams incident and clarity on Clermont comments

All Blacks wing Mark Telea and Springboks scrum-half Grant Williams. Credit: Alamy

All Blacks wing Mark Telea and Springboks scrum-half Grant Williams. Credit: Alamy

This week we will mostly be concerning ourselves with technicalities, another head injury incident and a disclaimer…

On tap

It looked for all the world like a try. Mark Telea had placed the ball, tapped it, and thundered over under the posts despite the attentions of at least one Australian who was quite clearly going to the bin had Telea not made it.

But Wayne Barnes was not so sure. And the replays proved him right. We think. But there are a couple of aspects which raise questions as well.

The following is the law surrounding the taking of a penalty:

Taking a penalty or free-kick

1) A penalty or free-kick must be taken without delay.

2) Any player from the non-offending team may take it, other than for a free-kick awarded for a mark.

3) The kicker must use the ball that was in play unless the referee decides it is defective.

4) The kicker may punt, drop-kick or place-kick (other than for touch) the ball.

5) The kicker may kick the ball in any direction.

6) Other than the placer at a place-kick, the kicker’s team must remain behind the ball until it has been kicked.

7) The ball must be kicked a visible distance. If the kicker is holding it, it must clearly leave the hands. If it is on the ground, it must clearly leave the mark. Once the kick has been successfully taken, the kicker may play the ball again.

Sanction: Scrum.

So let’s go through the checklist. 1. Tick. 2. Tick. 3. Tick. 4. We’ll get back to this. 5. Same. 6. Tick. 7. Erm…

It’s quite a list of things to go through for what seems like a pretty simple procedure!

Anyway, watching the slow-motion replay and comparing it with this list, a couple of things become apparent. Firstly, the ball is still moving after Telea puts it on the ground. Secondly, however, he does touch it with his toecap. So has he fulfilled criterion 4? If he has, then criterion 5 is also automatically ticked (sidenote, number 5 seems extremely irrelevant to anything, doesn’t it?)

So to 7. The TMO was quite precise in using this exact phrasing. But the ball does clearly move in between the contact with Telea’s foot and his picking it up. A problem here seems then to be how much of it is down to its previous movement and how much is down to Telea’s foot? But there is contact and movement.

So it is a funny one. If Telea fulfils criterion 4, he has fulfilled criterion 5 and based on the movement of the ball, we’d suggest also criterion 7. Yet it was all so untidy and didn’t feel worthy of enough technical competence to be a try. In any other part of the game, it would have been a knock-on and scrum to Australia, which is the sanction for not getting criterion 7 right.

We’d actually argue for the strict implementation of the following: that a ball placed on the ground for a tap penalty or free kick has to be absolutely still before being tapped. This would clear up all the grey area we perceive in Telea’s action (and give a clear reason not to award this try!)

Of course, it would all have been so much cleaner and easier had he simply tapped it out of his hands and caught it? The most pertinent law of all that Telea breached: keep it simple.

When reckless is not malicious

As Loose Pass taps away at his keyboard (which is standing still), news broke that Juan Cruz Mallia had been cited for the incident in which Grant Williams was left cold on the turf.

And again, the TMO is in our sights for this one.

Last week we talked about how Michael Leitch was an unfortunate victim of in-game dynamics; he was certainly not malicious, and nor, as we considered last week, was he particularly reckless. Nor was he the dominant force in the contact. His three-week ban seems remarkably harsh – lest we forget, that’s the same length of ban for an act of self-preservation as for walking onto the pitch as a non-player and abusing match officials after a game.

But the TMO had no hesitation last week. Leitch turned his shoulder and didn’t control himself enough to take the opponent out of danger, so he had to go. Evidently enough disregard for the opponent’s safety that he was in red card territory.

Ok, so there’s a case, however harsh. So when Mallia flies 6 to 7 metres through the air straight – straight, not slightly to the side – at Williams, surely there’s a case for recklessness, even if there’s no apparent malice? Mallia was dominant in the contact, out of control, hitting a defenceless player directly on the head… it ticks almost every box for serious foul play, many of the boxes Leitch’s tackle last week didn’t.

So the citing is fair enough. But it’s extremely disappointing, in the context of what the new directives surrounding head contact are looking to achieve, that the TMO did not consider it this way. The inconsistencies from TMOs are becoming extremely tiresome, across a number of different aspects of law; and these are the guys employed to watch incidents outside of real-time?

For clarity

Loose Pass noted last week a number of disgruntled Clermont fans gnashing teeth at the thought that their club would prevent Peceli Yato from playing in the World Cup.

It would indeed be quite a thing were it to be so, but it certainly was not what was meant. So to put a record straight, Loose Pass’ consideration was that Yato had possibly decided himself for club over country, on the basis that the financial package from Fiji would not compensate him enough for what he would not receive at Clermont; the intended lament was that Fiji’s resources were too scarce to ensure their best players could take club time off, rather than Clermont being all coercive about it.

Loose Pass also was not aware of the rumours of an altercation between Yato and a coach, which if true, put an entirely different spin on it all anyway.

The truth is out there somewhere. But of all the versions out there, the one in which Clermont force a player not to play for his country is not the one Loose Pass considers in any way true.

READ MORE: Rugby Championship: Two Cents Rugby picks his top five players from Round Three

The article Loose Pass: Mark Telea’s tap, Grant Williams incident and clarity on Clermont comments appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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