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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Pierre Spies (C), Jean de Villiers (R) and Jaco Peyper (L) © Gallo Images

Bulls try a mistake, admits Bray



The first full round of Vodacom Super Rugby is a thing of the past, with praise coming from Sanzar for the role of referees in the competition.

Statistics show that not only are penalties down per game, but scrum completion rates come in at 66%, above the average of 60% last season, making the first full round of Super Rugby a positive start to the 2013 season.

The only drawback it seems, was one decision to award the Bulls a try in their win over the Stormers, which Sanzar referees boss Lyndon Bray admitted was a mistake.

Bray has confirmed that the decision was indeed incorrect and that a penalty should have been awarded to the Stormers, instead of a try to the Bulls.

The argument whether this would have made a difference or not is pure conjecture, but Jaco Peyper has received a dressing down from his superiors, although Bray has called it “disappointing” that the try was awarded in the first place.

For those who didn’t see the incident, here it is:

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“It’s a simple answer really – Jaco knows he was wrong and he has to take accountability for that,” Bray explained.

“In the incident, we see the Bulls 9 kick the ball and the Bulls 2 is in front of 9. At best the Stormers player plays the ball if it indeed does hit him, and in that case the law is very clear. Number two is within 10 metres of the ball, and he needs to retire. He may have been close to the player receiving the ball, but the reality is he is offside and not allowed to come within 10 metres of the player who plays at the ball.

"The fact that the Stormers player plays the ball does not put him onside unless he is retiring. The only way he could have been onside would have been if the ball was charged down, and it is clearly not that, so the referee got that wrong.

“What is disappointing is that the law is really very well known to referees at this level and it is very disappointing that he got that wrong.”

Yet the Ralepelle try – even though it would not have influenced the outcome of the game – was not the only controversial incident in the weekend’s round of action, with Frank Halai of the Blues getting yellow-carded for a professional foul that resulted in a penalty try and the Force contesting a decision not to award them a try against the Kings.

In the Blues game, Halai and Hurricanes flyer Julian Savea charged for a ball, with Halai knocking it over the dead-ball line “deliberately” according to the referee. Was it deliberate?

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Bray agrees with the referee’s decision to award a yellow card and a penalty try.

“There are two parts of the law that are important about that,” he explains, “If a player is intentionally offending through foul play, then it would be a try, and to intentionally knock the ball over the dead-ball line qualifies as foul play as it prevents a try from possibly being scored. The Blues player had chosen to commit the foul and therefore prevented a possible try scenario.

“Secondly whether another defender was close would be taken into account, but it makes no difference as the defender makes a choice and commits the offence intentionally. There was no player nearby and therefore a penalty try was to be awarded. The bottom line is he chose to play the ball over the dead-ball line and there are consequences of that action. And if it is a penalty try then the sanction must warrant a yellow card.”

The Force managed to maul the ball over the Kings’ line in their game in Port Elizabeth, but the maul had stopped twice, forcing referee Lourens van der Merwe to warn the Australian side to use it, and when they chose to continue, not only was the try not awarded, but they lost the ball as well.

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“It may seem harsh but technically it is quite correct,” Bray explains. “We have worked with the teams to let them know if the maul goes sideways it is the same as if it had stopped, and to be effective a maul must move forward.

" There was an almost identical example in the Six Nations this weekend but 30 metres further upfield. It may be contentious this time because it is on the goalline, and there is the argument that the attacking team should be favoured.

"But look at the flipside of it: the defending team had stopped the maul twice, so why should they not get the advantage of defending well? It was a very good call from the referee and the correct thing to do.”

Those incidents aside, the rest of the round produced some exciting positive rugby, which bodes well for the rest of the season.

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