Materiality .. The knock on


Resident Club Coach
Jan 27, 2004
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Not so long ago, there was a law trail that knock on resulted in a FK.

... for which one of the options would be a scrummage, particularly between the 22s as a FK is such a toothless beast.


Marc Wakeham

Referees in Wales
Jan 5, 2018
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Current Referee grade:
Level 2
Yeah, sorry. I'm not great at explaining but I''ll try...

Rugby is a zero-sum game. If one team gets and advantage then, by definition, their opponents must be disadvantaged.
So, if team A knocks on and gets and advantage then I blow the whistle.
Also, if team A knocks on and does NOT gain an advantage then I call "Advantage Over" at some point.
I do this because the lack of advantage to team A must mean that there is an advantage to team B.

( Of course, one could argue that there has been no advantage to either A or B but I can;t think of an example where that would realistically happen )

A side can "gain" from an offence they commit we call that a "material effect" on the game. That is now subject to a whistle.

A side can not "gain" from an offence they commit we call that NO "material effect" on the game. We can manage this without a whistle. However, equally we can blow.

THe NON offending side can gain an advantage from the other side's offence. Here we can play advantage.

There is no concept of "advantage" to the offending side.

The only "odd" concept is that we play "material effect" after PK and FK offences but not scrum offences. I.e. we ping technical failings but not cheating. You are "allowed" to cheat as long as you fail to achieve the end result you were aiming for.


Rugby Expert
Apr 13, 2015
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Just making it up to get an easy life? No No and NO again!

To get something of a flowing game of rugby, not an easy life. At the lowest levels it's the only chance you get.

I disagree that you won't hear complaints if you're impartial - the *other* team's borderline knockons are always flagrant and gamechanging.