Can you push a ball carrier into touch?
I have recently seen a senior referee allow it, and also have read an assessor’s report say it’s forbidden. Thoughts?
Law 9.11 Players must not do anything that is reckless or dangerous to others.
Law 9.16 A player must not charge or knock down an opponent carrying the ball without attempting to grasp that player.
References elsewhere in the 2018 Law Book to pushing an opponent only refer to actions against an opponent NOT in possession of the ball, so pushing an opponent IN possession of the ball is not against the law unless it invokes Law 9.11 or Law 9.16.
If the ball carrier ends up clattering into non padded equipment or spectators then the push may be considered either reckless or dangerous and liable to sanction (Law 9.11). If the ball carrier remains on his feet and merely steps into touch and slows down without such contact, then this may not be worthy of sanction.
However, if the ball carrier is knocked down as a result of the push and hasn’t been held then the player who pushed him is liable to sanction (Law 9.16).
Response written December 21st, 2018.