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Official View: Explaining the obstruction rule

Bill Harrigan NRL.com Mon, Aug 01, 2011 - 1:30 PM

Chris Sandow did the right thing by not taking advantage of an obstruction Copyright: NRL Photos

Each week referees co-coaches Bill Harrigan and Stuart Raper answer your questions. Today Bill looks at key talking points from round 21.

What happens when players take a voluntary tackle when they know they are in the wrong? E.g. Chris Sandow's action towards the end of the Rabbitohs v Dragons match. Should he have been penalised even if he didn’t run on? Could he have been penalised for a voluntary tackle?

If an attacking player runs around his own player and then takes an advantage, either by running the ball or by promoting the ball through a pass or a kick, the referee will penalise them. In the Rabbitohs game against the Dragons, Chris Sandow realises he has gone behind one of his own players and he stops, then takes the tackle to make sure he doesn’t take any advantage. Because of this action, there is no need to penalise the Rabbitohs because no advantage has been gained on the play.

We had a similar incident last week involving the Raiders and Josh McCrone. McCrone ran behind a teammate and stopped, but then after stopping, he passed the ball - at which point the referee penalised him because he had promoted the ball and taken an advantage.

I talked to Canberra coach David Furner about it; all McCrone had to do was run straight at the defender and not take the advantage that had been created by running behind his own player. But as soon as he promoted the ball, the referee had no choice but to penalise him for the obstruction.

In order for a referee to penalise the attacking player for a voluntary tackle, the defenders have to leave him on the ground and not touch him. As soon as they put a hand on him they have affected the tackle. They need to leave the attacking player where he is and then he will be penalised for a voluntary tackle.

Was the first try to the Titans after Greg Bird’s strip a knock-on similar to the one from the Manly game last week that you addressed?

It is very similar to the Manly try that was disallowed last week against the Panthers. The initial strip definitely goes forward and had it been sent to the video referee, it probably would have been ruled a knock-on and disallowed.�

I think the reason it wasn’t picked up and the referees thought it was okay was the way the ball went flying back to the Titans. The initial strip goes forward into Uate before going backwards and leading to the Gold Coast try - it should have been ruled a knock-on.

In the Tigers v Manly game, was the pass that put the Tigers in the lead forward?

Yes, in our view it was forward. We are not about to try and manufacture an excuse to hide that fact. I simply felt the officials made an incorrect call and that has been pointed out. Mistakes will be made from time to time. We need to do all we can to prevent them, and part of that is putting your hand up to acknowledge an error.

In the Cowboys v Panthers game, why was it not a line drop-out in the 45th minute? It looked like Cowboys' winger Kalifa Faifai Loa had kept the ball in play.

The touch judge is the sole judge of touch and as soon as he puts his flag up the referee has to call for the scrum. It was very close, but the ball was in fact kept in play and this should have been a line drop-out. It was never going to be a try because the Panthers got to the ball first and grounded it, rendering it dead.�

The touch judge has to make a decision in this instance because it is six metres away from the in-goal; you can’t wait to see if the attacking team scores. He thought the ball was in touch and made a decision accordingly. The Panthers were awarded the scrum, but it should have been a line drop-out.