Ask the Law Expert!

When is a maul over? What’s the definition of ‘latching’. Who gets the ball these days when it’s kicked out of the field of play?

This page is for all those tricky law questions that you always wanted to ask, but didn’t want to appear ignorant! Our resident Law Expert is on hand to give you guidance on anything that’s come up in one of your games, or that you’ve seen as a spectator or a TV viewer.

Below you’ll find some questions and their answers provided by the Law Expert, the most recent of which is first. If you have a burning question on any aspect of interpretation of the law, or think that you should have made a different decision, please complete the short form at the bottom, and we’ll try and help you out!

(Jan 2021) Question: Uncontested scrums in England: can the No 8 pick up the ball and go?

The Expert says: Yes. All rugby union matches in England are under the jurisdiction of the RFU which in the majority of cases defers to World Rugby Laws. The only reference to uncontested scrums in World Rugby Law (including U19 variations, which cover English U19/Colts/U18 games) is in the Definitions and that places no restriction on No 8 pick-ups.

Some RFU Competition Regulations have variations, including that they may require a side failing to provide adequate front row cover (thereby resulting in uncontested scrums) to play with one fewer player. RFU Regulation 15 covers all Boys Age Grade rugby from U18 and below, and Appendix 9 covers the relevant Boys age group U15-U18. Appendix 8 covers Boys U14, and Appendix 11 covers Girls’ U15-U18. In all these cases there are no restrictions on No. 8 pick-ups even in uncontested scrums.

(As U13 and below, boys and girls, don’t have a No 8, the question above does not apply)

Please note that in Wales the Regulations are different. Our schools and clubs that play ‘cross-border’ fixtures may have to agree with their opponents beforehand whether any variation applies or not

(Jan 2021) Red team kicks off, Blue catch the ball and immediately kick deep. The ball bounces into touch inside Red’s 22. Who throws in at the resulting lineout?

The Expert says: Red. The 50/22 Global Law Trial states specifically that it does not apply to a kick off or any type of restart kick.

Justification: It would be wrong to sanction a team for complying with an obligation. Red was obliged to kick into the Blue half and did so. Blue only has the opportunity to secure a 50/22 either if Red chose voluntarily to kick the ball into the Blue half or after a further contest for the ball in the Blue half after they were obliged to kick the ball into that half.

(Jan 2021) On a windy day, red team scores a try. The tee is bought on by a substitute. The ball keeps falling off the tee so the kicker asks the substitute to hold the ball for him. Do you allow this?

The Expert says: No. Whilst Law 8 allows for a “placer” to support the ball for place kicks at goal, Law 3.1 states that each team has no more than 15 players in the playing area during play. If the substitute acted as a placer for his team in an attempt to score points, then he/she is acting in a playing capacity so would contravene Law 3.1.

Earlier ‘Ask the Expert Questions are archived here!

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