Ask the Ref: Two Quick Taps

Posted by IRB Laws on December 5th, 2009

Hey Ref: “After a quick tap where the scrumhalf drew another penalty for not-10, the ref let him take the next penalty quick again before we could get back.  Can you take the second tap quick like that?”

IRB Referee Chris Draper: A player may take any penalty at or behind the mark as soon as its location has been identified by DraperwithScotlandbehindthe referee.  After a team prevents a quick tap from being taken, there is nothing in Law requiring the referee to either ensure the offending team is back 10 meters or prevent the advanced penalty kick from being taken quickly.  As clearly stated by iRB

Referee Manager Paddy O’Brien, “teams who deliberately infringe the taking of the first tap should not be advantaged by having the referee slow down the next penalty.”

It is considered “Interference” under 21.7(d) when an opponent does anything to “delay the penalty kick or obstruct the kicker” if the team wishes to take the penalty kick quickly. If a team is guilty of Interference, the referee awards “a second penalty kick, 10m in front of the mark for the first kick.” This second kick must not be taken “before the referee has made the mark indicating the place of the penalty,” but can be taken immediately after this mark is identified. As stated, there is nothing in Law that requires the referee to delay the awarding of this mark, and there is nothing preventing the non-offending team from taking the penalty immediately following its award.

However, slowing down how quickly the mark is made can be a necessary management tool. In the same clarification, O’Brien also states: “if it is absolutely necessary to slow the game down then the referee should use his [or her] management skills to ensure the new mark is not made till he [or she] is ready.”

Since it should be our goal to facilitate the fastest, hardest game the players are willing and able to play, we should work to provide every opportunity for a team to take a penalty kick quickly. At the same time, there are a few things we must consider when the game really starts to speed up:

Am I in control? While we want to allow players every opportunity to push the pace of a match, we cannot allow play to become so fractured that we lose the ability to exert control. For example, if an offending team causes significant contact at the first penalty kick, it would be prudent to wait until this is appropriately resolved before shifting our attention elsewhere.

Did the offending team prevent open play? In the same way being offside is not a penalty in itself, the player taking a quick tap should not be awarded a second penalty for intentionally running into a retreating player. The offending team must cause the interference in order to be liable for penalty.

Was this intentional? Players know their responsibilities at a penalty: if you have provided a strong whistle and a clear primary signal, there should be no confusion about what is expected. When a player knows that he or she cannot interfere at the quickly taken penalty, yet chooses to do so anyway, would this not then be ‘Intentionally Offending’ under 10.2(a), raising the prospect of considering a formal caution?

There is nothing that states we must slow down play after interference at a quick tap, and to do so is counter to our goal of facilitating the fastest, hardest game the players are willing and able to play.

If it’s all under control, let ’em run.

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