Main content

Official View: The advantage rule

Bill Harrigan NRL.com Mon, Apr 11, 2011 - 4:50 PM

Bill Harrigan answers fans questions on the policing of the advantage rule in 2011. Copyright: Getty Images

Referees co-coach Bill Harrigan answers your most frequently asked questions from Round 5.

How long can the referee play advantage? When was the advantage taken in relation to round 5's Sharks v Sea Eagles game?

The advantage is over when the referee deems the non-offending team has taken their opportunity. This varies from referee to referee. Last year we tried to make the ruling black and white by saying that the advantage is taken when the ball is advanced 10 metres from the point of the infringement. By doing this we were trying to take away the grey area around the ruling.

We changed this after constructive criticism arose last season when teams were passing it from sideline to sideline, but were ruled to have not taken their advantage because of the 10 metre rule we had in place.

In the Cronulla v Manly game, it is unanimous across the referees that Manly did not take their advantage. They did throw one pass, but they didn’t have an opportunity to take advantage and that is why the play was called back for the original infringement.

Ultimately, it is now up to the referees discretion to decide when the advantage has been taken.

Relive the Sharks v Sea Eagles clash on Game Analyser

Why were the Raiders allowed to run 100m to score – before being called back to look at the video referee?

Our current policy is that any part of that play leading to a try can be reviewed by the video referee if one of the officials has seen something he isn’t quite sure on. Sometimes in that quick split second you might miss something and it is better to go back and check it if you aren’t 100% sure.  

If the Raiders player had been tackled a metre out from the line and there was time left on the clock, it is play-on because the referee has missed his opportunity to make a call and is obliged to let the on-field call stand.

The bottom line with this ruling is that the referees got it right; they used the video to check if there had been a push – which resulted in a penalty correctly being awarded to the Panthers.

Watch highlights from the Panthers v Raiders clash on Game Analyser

Why were the Eels not awarded a try when it appeared the Melbourne Storm player pulled the attacking player back?

On the first couple of replays it looks like the Melbourne Storm player pulls the Eels player back, but in a later replay it reveals that it was a 50-50 battle for the ball. The Eels player actually initiates the contact with the Storm player, the Melbourne defender then reacts. It is a fair contest for the ball, with both players desperate to get to the ball in the in-goal.

It was the replay showing this one-on-one contest that led to the decision being a 20m restart and not a penalty.

Why are players holding onto legs in the tackle not penalised?

There is a common misconception from players and fans that the attacking player who has been tackled around the legs is getting held down too long by the defender.

When a player goes in and makes a tackle around the legs, you generally see the attacking player start to kick-out in an attempt to quickly get to his feet and get a quick play the ball. Fans usually start booing and bemoaning how long he hangs on in the tackle.

The defender is actually allowed to hold on when he makes what we call a ‘legsie’ tackle and the reason we reward him with that extra time in the tackle is to give an incentive for players to tackle around the legs, which is something that has been disappearing from the game.

The referee will allow more time for a low defender to release the legs of the ball carrier and the player can hold on in the tackle until the referee calls him to release.

Watch the big moments from the Storm v Eels match on Game Analyser