[Law] Hand Off or Fend to the face/head/neck

Last_20

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Heading into the new season and I am anticipating questions from players clarifying whether hand-offs to the head, face or neck area are impacted by the increased focus on high tackles and high contact in general? I seem to get asked this mostly when refereeing women's matches interestingly? Grateful for reflections from other referees. By implication is the quantum of excessive force (Law 9:24) different for connection with the head than the arm or torso say?
 

Pinky


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Covered in out pre-season. reminded that ball carrier has more leeway to fend than tackler, but ball carrier is not allowed to lead with elbow/forearm and if they do contact with head is RC
 

Marc Wakeham


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If it is illecgal to make contact with the head, it should apply to both sides. A fend / hand off could easily cause concussion with a head being i]jarred backwards.

The laws are an ass in this respect.
 

Decorily

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Similarly, the BC could lower their shoulder (sling/tucked) and target the tacklers head, and it would be play on.

It wouldn't necessarily be play on...
But I hear what you are saying and I agree that it is ridiculous!
 

OB..


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How do you fend of a tackler who comes in low?

Many years ago I watched a touring Fijian player, Tikoisuva, playing on the wing against East Midlands. I was directly behind one run up the left wing. As the tackler came in, he put his hand firmly on the top of the tackler's head and used it as a pivot to run his legs round in a semicircle so that the tackler could not reach his legs. No danger to either player, though the tackler looked a bit embarrassed.
 

smeagol


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How do you fend of a tackler who comes in low?

Many years ago I watched a touring Fijian player, Tikoisuva, playing on the wing against East Midlands. I was directly behind one run up the left wing. As the tackler came in, he put his hand firmly on the top of the tackler's head and used it as a pivot to run his legs round in a semicircle so that the tackler could not reach his legs. No danger to either player, though the tackler looked a bit embarrassed.


When asked by senior players about fending off and contact above the shoulders, the keywords I use are a "push" vs a "open-hand strike."
 

Taff


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If it is illecgal to make contact with the head, it should apply to both sides. ... The laws are an ass in this respect.
You do have a point, but if a tackler could get a BC :rc: just by deliberately taking a shoulder charge to the head, there would be nobody left to play.

I think the logic is a tackler is half expecting a shoulder charge to the chops and can position himself in such a way that it doesn't happen. A BC on the other hand isn't expecting a shoulder charge to the head and it is therefore more dangerous when it happens.
 
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Marc Wakeham


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. A BC on the other hand isn't expecting a shoulder charge to the head and it is therefore more dangerous when it happens.

Even when you play a PI side or Farrell is in the other team?
 

BikingBud


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How about poor tackling technique as demonstrated by Connor Murray on Johnny May?

Murray tries to tackle May's shoulder with his head:frown:
 

Marc Wakeham


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Then Murray is at fault not May. Same as Halfpenny. His poor technique, his problem.
 

tewdric


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I think there'a a chance May will get cited on the basis of forearm leading.

Similarly the late incident with white 5 which resulted in a yellow card.

Nigel Owens immediately made the decision which may well be correct based on mitigation for an unsighted defender, however I would not be surprised if, on review, it were ro be judged a red card offence.
 

Marc Wakeham


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I think there'a a chance May will get cited on the basis of forearm leading.

Similarly the late incident with white 5 which resulted in a yellow card.

Nigel Owens immediately made the decision which may well be correct based on mitigation for an unsighted defender, however I would not be surprised if, on review, it were ro be judged a red card offence.

I'm replying on the basis of the comment and not the actual incident, which I've not seen.
 

BikingBud


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I think there'a a chance May will get cited on the basis of forearm leading.

Similarly the late incident with white 5 which resulted in a yellow card.

Nigel Owens immediately made the decision which may well be correct based on mitigation for an unsighted defender, however I would not be surprised if, on review, it were ro be judged a red card offence.

5% or 95% chance?

May stepped inside and shrugged off the poor challenge, Murray's head was on May's upper arm. Replay is at 30:40 on game clock.

If that's a citing them the game of rugby is finished.
 

FourOaksBookworm

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Had exactly this situation in a ladies game yesterday: BC led with her upper shoulder in an upwards direction directly into the face/chin area of tackler. I went with YC
 

Vovonne


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Hello all and thank you for creating this thread a few months back, I was glad to see I'm not the only one struggling the laws on this question! I thought I would revive the topic in case people had any further thoughts on it.

I'm a newbie ref and have done a couple of women's games so far, and as was mentioned in the original post, it's definitely a common feature in women's games (also remembering from my playing days). One team in particular was using them a lot the other day. Each time, the BC made sure they made contact with their hand open and not stiff arming, but still there were a couple of times where I felt quite uncomfortable not blowing the whistle, even though I couldn't say they had applied excessive force.

I agree with others that it's tricky because it's partly down to the tackler's poor technique and they shouldn't go into contact so upright in the first place, but safety wise even without applying "excessive force" you still get a hand on someone's neck or face, which is far from ideal.

I blew the whistle once where I was comfortable the BC had applied excessive force - penalty against the BC's team. Other types I let it play on, including for a hand off that landed on the last defender's neck near the try line and led to a try. I didn't feel that I could disallow the try when the BC had not gone beyond what the rules seem to allow and the last defender had used such a poor tackling technique in the first place.

But clearly the opposition didn't like getting so many hands in the face and I can understand why. I'm sure it's going to come up again so was wondering if anyone had any tips about judging what "excessive force" is? Again, assuming the contact to the neck or face is made with an open hand (not forearm or elbow) and isn't a full on slap or making contact with eyes...
Do you play on?
Do you have a word with both teams before the game saying what you expect them not to go beyond in relation to hand offs?

Thanks in advance for your contributions!
 

crossref


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vovonne this is an excellent question, and in my opinion there is no easy answer.

I reckon that hand off's are very rarely penalised, and TBH if you give a PK for 'excessive force' it's going to be a difficult sell.

So what's my advice ?

One team in particular was using them a lot the other day. Each time, the BC made sure they made contact with their hand open and not stiff arming, but still there were a couple of times where I felt quite uncomfortable not blowing the whistle, even though I couldn't say they had applied excessive force

So first stage has to be to manage it - to talk to the captain and explain what change you want to happen --- so that they can't act surprised when you PK them for it later.
 

Ciaran Trainor


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Vovonnne, I've commented on situations like this many times. My advice, trust your instinct. A hand off is a hand off, play on. a hit to the face is a hit to the face and a penalty. And a stern word
If you see it like that, penalise and say so.
It usually occurs when a ball carrier thinks they can get away with it and try it on.
 
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