Try illegal on three counts

FOR THE fateful quick throw by Matthew Rees to Mike Phillips for Wales’ match-winning try on Saturday, not only is it quite clear…

FOR THE fateful quick throw by Matthew Rees to Mike Phillips for Wales’ match-winning try on Saturday, not only is it quite clear that the ball went into the crowd from Jonathan Sexton’s sliced kick out on the full (from where the ball was thrown back) but a Welsh ball boy hands another ball to Rees in full view of both touch judge Peter Allan and Jonathan Kaplan.

After Phillips scores, Paul O’Connell and other Ireland players make it abundantly clear a different ball was used, as Brian O’Driscoll relays to Kaplan. The referee consults Allan, who begins to describe what happened when he is interrupted by Kaplan.

“Is it the correct ball?” Kaplan asks Peter Allan.

“It was the correct ball. Yes, yes,” says Allan, nodding his head.


“It is?”

“Yea,” repeats Allan.

Afterwards, the fourth official, Nigel Owens, confirmed Kaplan could only have gone to the Television Match Official for a ruling relating to “the act of scoring a try” according to IRB protocol, and that this debate has raged within the IRB for the last five years. Yet there remained an argument for Kaplan extending the protocol by going to his TMO given the unusual circumstances, despite Allan being so emphatic.

Law 19.2 (d) specifically states that: “For a quick throw-in the player must use the ball that went into touch. A quick throw-in is not permitted if another person has touched the ball apart from the player throwing it in and an opponent who carried it into touch.”

Thus, the quick throw should not have been allowed because the ball had gone into the crowd, and another ball was used. In addition, a quick throw-in can only be taken from where the ball crossed the line or back towards the goal-line. Sexton’s kick went out on the full inside the Welsh half, whereupon Allan signals the lineout to be taken just outside the Irish 10-metre line.

Thus, Rees’ under-arm throw before the lineout has formed is taken in a line from where Sexton kicked out on the full, which is in front of where the ball crossed the touchline. Illegal on three counts, it also looks as if Rees’ foot is inside the touchline before he throws. The 35-year-old Allan played prop for Watsonians and is a full-time, professional referee, though he would widely be regarded as a poor referee even by Magners League standards. The 43-year-old Kaplan, who was born in Durban, is also a full-time referee and currently holds the record for the most international matches as referee, though ironically Kaplan (the most experienced Six Nations referee ever) has previous here.

During a Super 14 game between the Crusaders and the Hurricanes last year, the ball went out and was handled by players on the Hurricanes’ bench and by Conrad Smith. The Crusaders’ Andy Ellis grabbed the ball out of Smith’s hands, took the quick throw and Zac Guildford scored a try that, along with another controversial last-minute try, cost the Hurricanes the game.

The referee was Kaplan and after the game he said: “The law surrounding that is that if it’s touched by a player from another team then it’s okay. But if it’s touched by a player from your own team then you can’t go quickly.”

The law says no such thing, and Kaplan was roundly criticised.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times