Some questions from around the world and our own email

Question: Given the Six Nations match between Ireland and France was postponed today because of to inclement weather (frozen pitch), I was wondering if you and the assistant referees undertake the decision to postpone a match, or do you take advice from the Home Union/IRB before making the decision.

Duty Ref: The decision to postpone a game is generally the responsibility of the referee. Having said that, it would be wise to listen to a variety of people before making the decision. If the conditions are deemed unsafe then the referee really has no choice.

Question: I would like to know  if you thought Scotland had sufficient downward pressure in the match against England. I’m not really fazed about what the result would have been in the match, but rather to determine what constitutes downward pressure.

Duty Ref: If a player is carrying the ball, downward pressure is not required. the player only needs to bring the ball into contact with the ground. If the ball is bouncing, then he does have to have downward pressure. In this incident the ball is bouncing. it was a hard decision for the TMO – try, drop-out or five-metre scrum to Scotland. It is clear the TMO decided that touching the side of the ball was not downward pressure and that it was conclusive that the England player had grounded it. That would make the drop-out the right decision.

Question: Rob Kearney called a mark from a kick that hit the posts in the weekends game. Is this allowed? Joubert did not award it.

Duty Ref: Yes it is. Law 18 Defintions – A player may make a mark even though the ball touched a goal post or crossbar before being caught.

Question: Hi there! Could you please clarify the issue of the “tackled” player who must release the ball and cannot stand up on his feet again and continue running with the ball? When is a player technically tackled? In recent Heineken Cup matches I saw different interpretations, some claim a played must be held in order to be classified as tackled, some say it is enough to bring him to the ground. What about the “French” tackle (Weepu on Trinh-Duc in the final, to give an example), where the “tackler” does not hold the opponent but simply makes him fall by tapping his legs? Does it count as a tackle? Does the tackled player have to release the ball or can he stand up without releasing because he was not held? Thanks a lot.

Duty Ref: A tackle has been deemed to take place when the tackler holds (and keeps holding) the ball-carrier until the ball-carrier hits the ground (minimum one knee). At this point there is no obligation for the tackler to keep holding on to the ball-carrier. A tackle has taken place. Indeed it is his obligation to release the said ball-carrier and make another decision. i.e. ball steal or roll away. An ankle tap is not a tackle and the ball-carrier may get to his feet and continue playing.