Why the Bulls did not get <i>‘that’</i> penalty


There has been a lot of controversy following the Bulls defeat last night to the Blues especially the incident that followed after the final try was scored by Björn Basson.

In the final play of the match the Bulls were trailing by 16-29 with time up on the clock.  The Bulls built through some phases which ended up in Björn Basson diving in at the corner to score a try.  The try was awarded but the controversy and confusion came with the tackler, Rene Ranger, receiving a yellow card for his tackle on the Bulls flyer as he scored the try.

Many, including Bulls captain Pierre Spies, believed that referee Walsh should have awarded the Bulls a penalty on the halfway line following the score which could have provided them with an unlikely opportunity to win the game if they manage to score another converted try from 50 meters out.

The fact that Ranger transgressed in the eyes of Walsh (issuing a yellow and white card) is not in question – as it was also confirmed by SANZAR that Ranger has been cited by the match commissioner for a dangerous tackle on Basson.

But it is this very fact that most people overlook when asking why a penalty was not awarded.

A referee may award a penalty to the side which scored a try on the half-way line if he or his assistants picked up that an act of foul play occurred in the in-goal area AFTER a try has been scored.  This would typically be in an instance where a player would dive onto the try-scorer after he grounded the ball, but the Ranger incident occurred ‘while the try was being scored’.

Referee Walsh penalized him for a dangerous ‘tackle’ which was also the reason highlighted by SANZAR for which Ranger has been cited (Ranger is alleged to have contravened Law 10.4 (e) Dangerous tackling).

In plain English, Ranger was penalised and cited for an act which occurred while the try was being scored, not for any foul play following a try being scored hence no penalty awarded on the halfway.

The only thing Walsh could have done is award a penalty try which would have given Morne Steyn a much easier conversion.

Of course this incident is up for interpretation as the tackle was deemed ‘late and dangerous’, but I hope that clears it up for you.

RW Note: Our thanks to referee Stu Berry who cleared this up for us a bit. Please note he mentioned that Walsh probably thought the incident happened ‘as the try was scored, not after the try was scored hence no penalty on the halfway line’.  Berry did not condone, support or disagree with the decision, he merely provided us with his insight with regards to the laws.

The incident is at the end of this video (or watch shortened version here http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=GkdnQsGwm9w#t=62s):

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  1. Didn’t see the game, but if this was the circumstances then don’t blame the ref.

    14 points left on the field. Not good enough with a Bok flyhalf in the side.

  2. i don’t get why everyone is making a hullabaloo about this, aplon touched kahui last year ‘in the act of scoring a try’ dickenson awarded a penalty try to the chiefs & issued a yellow to aplon but never gave the chiefs a halfway line penalty. this is no different.

  3. What difference would a three pointer have made?

    Bulls played their game plan A for too long kicking ball away to one fo the most attacking sides in the comp…and then relied on altitude to kick in and create some gaps…

    Entertaining second half all the same!

  4. Reply to CooleyHigh @ 1:26 pm: big difference between that and Rangers no arms shoulder charge after the try was scored.

    It was definelty no arms tackle and he even drops his shoulder too and he will definelty get suspended. Typical Rnager though.

    Funny things is that there was another high no arms tackle on the last Bulls player that passed beofre Basson got the ball.

    Question: was has been the percenatge increase this year for Kiwi players getting carded?

  5. In 1990 CC final Sharks v Bulls in Pretoria when the Sharks won their first CC a penalty was awarded after Theo Van Rensburg performed a high tackle on a Sharks player before the winning try was scored by Tony Watson. Right after the conversion the Sharks were given a penalty from the 50 meter mark.


    The conjecture is that if the Bulls had run the penalty they could inconceivably have scored a second try and won the match.

  6. Still does not make sense to me.
    So penalisable incidents committed in
    extra time before a try is scored are
    And if it was not a try?

  7. Morning all,

    First of all – I am not saying the Bulls would have won. But I am of the opinion that a penalty should have been awarded at the halfway mark after the conversion kick.

    That has always been my understanding and my EXPERIENCE from playing and watching rugby.

    I just don’t understand why it was not awarded. I also believe that Stu’s explanation confirms that a penalty should have been awarded. The event took place in-goal and Basson was under Ranger when the incident occurred – so clearly after the try was scored.

    Ranger dived on top of Basson after Basson scored the try.

    Just my two-cents worth.

  8. I have to say that the contact between the players occurred AFTER the TD and Ranger had no chaNCE OF PERFORMING THE TACKLE to stop the try.

    Correct course should have been penalty on the 50 meter line…

    Maybe Walshie was tired from the high altitude..

  9. Reply to Thomas_Bulls @ 8:43 am: Reply to DavidS @ 8:54 am:

    I cannot find a specific reference to this in the law book, mind you, I have not been looking that hard to be honest.

    I don’t know if you saw the footage above, but just before Basson dots down you can see both players in the air (committed) – it is rather hard to pull out mid-air.

    Any event, Ranger got carded, cited and suspended for a dangerous tackle – pretty standard stuff all round imo.

  10. relevant is Law 5:
    (e) If time expires and the ball is not dead, or an awarded scrum or lineout has not been
    completed, the referee allows play to continue until the next time that the ball becomes
    dead. The ball becomes dead when the referee would have awarded a scrum, lineout, an
    option to the non-infringing team, drop out or after a conversion or successful penalty kick
    at goal. If a scrum has to be reset, the scrum has not been completed. If time expires and a
    mark, free kick or penalty kick is then awarded, the referee allows play to continue.
    (f) If time expires after a try has been scored the referee allows time for the conversion kick to
    be taken.

    IMO it contradicts itself a bit!? But I don’t know lawyer speak laughawie:

  11. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 9:28 am:

    PS: Let me make it clear – I am not saying the ref screwed the Bulls or the Bulls should have won etc etc.

    I am just raising the question of the Law and it’s implementation of this specific incident because as a part-time ref myself and coach it is interesting.

  12. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 9:28 am:

    It’s quite simple to me from Stu’s explanation.

    If an offense is committed FOLLOWING a try being scored (like jumping on a guys back with your studs or knees) then the ref can award a penalty.

    If an illegal action is committed in the process of the try being scored, the offense is sanctioned and punished as part of that phase of play (which ends with the try being awarded).

  13. Reply to Morné @ 9:20 am:

    I did see the footage. I agree that Ranger had already committed before the try was scored, but he went in with the shoulder and the intention to hurt and there was no attempt at a tackle. Furthermore, his “tackle” took place after the try was scored. The fact that he started before the try was scored is irrelevant in, my opinion. The illegal action doesn’t happen until after the try.

    There was no attempt to make a legal tackle by Ranger. No arms in my opinion.

    Had Ranger made a legal tackle then it would have been a different situation.

    Furthermore, the problem with rugby laws – as we all know – is that there is too much room for interpretation. Another Ref? Another player involved? What if time was not up?

    I dare say that this one incident could have had many different sanctions and outcomes.

  14. Although based on what Steve told Spies, he had it correct but for the wrong reasons. His argument was based on time having run out

  15. Reply to Thomas_Bulls @ 9:35 am:

    Ranger’s intent was to stop a try from being scored. He failed with that but got punished for his illegal attempt to try it.

    On the footage with both players diving through the air to the moment of the ball grounded and Ranger’s impact it is not even a second in realtime.

    It’s splitting hairs.

    Ranger tried illegally (dangerous, no arms should dive) to stop a try from being scored. He got penalised for the tackle – really as simple as that in my view.

  16. Ok simple mind that I have…

    The offence happened while he was scoring the try….if he gave the penalty before awarding the try the try could not have stand for they have to take the poenalty……(I know I sound stupid now). SO he awarded the try and the conversion must take place…time is up after kick and he is not allowed to give the penalty for ball is dead and the time is up.

    If they want a penalty afterwards right it in as a law.

  17. Reply to Kevin_rack @ 4:19 am: this was NOT after the try was scored, it was in the act of the try being scored in the same way aplon had his arms around kahui. the point is not how malicious ranger was vs aplon, the principle is the same, an infringement occured in the act of scoring a try, the player was yellowed as aplon was and a white card was given to ask the citing commissioner to have a closer look.

    no reason to award any extra penalty, the bulls lost, period.

  18. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 9:48 am:

    Well that’s another point – we can debate on interpretation all we want, I have looked but I am yet to find a law stating this penalty following a try scenario. (Although we all knows it happened in the past).

    I would actually really appreciated if someone has and will let me know where it is (clause etc).

  19. Reply to Morné @ 9:47 am:

    I see what you are saying, I just don’t agree. This shouldn’t be the case. Why can we not agree with something that should be relatively simple.

    And that is what I am referring to with my last comment about the fact that Ranger’s actions could have led to various different sanctions based on a ref’s interpretation as to whether it was after the try or in the process of the try being scored.

    Or even when you listen to Pat Lam when he said it is impossible to use your arms in such situations.

    I believe that this is just another example, one of many, of how convoluted, thus problematic, the laws are.

  20. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 9:59 am:

    If the penalty occured before the try was scored – argument could be shifted to award the penalty try – make the conversion easier.

    If the penalty occured after the try – penalty should have been awarded on the half way line.

    during?! WTf? It is either before or after laughawie:

  21. One thing I believe we can all agree on is that the Bulls lost – so please stop bringing that up, what is being discussed is the procedure and decision for the penalty…


  22. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 9:57 am:

    Based on your argument:

    If a team is attacking and the defensive team goes off sides and the team attacking then knocks on the ball then the game should end because the knock on happened and the game should end.

    But that isn’t what happens. If advantage has been finished then the ref will come back for the penalty for off-sides. So why should a conversion be treated different to a knock when playing advantage?

    I suppose you could argue that they got the advantage of the two points? But then if he missed the conversion, should the penalty then be awarded?

    Also, if Steve says it would be a penalty, then why not award it? We always hear that a game cannot end on a penalty. If he would have awarded one in normal time, why can’t he award one in extra time or after the hooter?

    My understanding is that a play must go on until a penalty is played out, for lack of a better word.

  23. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 9:55 am:

    There you are 100% correct and the laws of the game actually states this clearly – even though a try was scored (in the corner) Walsh could have awarded a penalty try for an easier conversion.

    Reply to Thomas_Bulls @ 10:03 am:

    It’s difficult because we have no law as reference here, just examples.

    If someone could highlight the actual law for awarding penalties after a try is scored (or in a similar scenario) we could get more clarity.

  24. Reply to Thomas_Bulls @ 10:12 am: Look I do not say I am an exspert in this…..I am saying what I see. the penalty offence was while scoring the try. The try stands so no penalty try was needed…..player was carded and suspended. Game for me did nopt end on penalty it ended on kick……their was no time for kick and if try did not stand ref had two options…given a panalty try or give a penalty but it was not needed.

    He could not awarded the penalty before the try otherwise the try could not have stand….

    That is as simple as I can understand it and put it…..

    If they want to change it they need to change the law in my mind but feel free to prove me wrong if you find something else in the lawbook

  25. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 10:19 am:

    just because it was the end of the game does not mean we should change procedure IMO.

    In normal game time the penalty would have been awarded on half way – said so by the ref himself. Hence the try was awarded and the conversion taken all under the penalty which was still open and was supposed to be taken.

    Just because the time ran out does not mean the game ended. acoording to the LAW you can not end a game on a penalty.

    As simple as I can put it

    (a) When there is more than one infringement by the same team:
    • If advantage cannot be applied to the second offence the referee applies the appropriate
    sanction to the first offence.
    • If advantage is played for the

  27. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 10:19 am:

    As I stated in my reply to Morne, I hear what you are saying and again repeat the fact that we shouldn’t be having varying opinions on this.

    Something needs to be done about the laws.

    I am also not an expert, so don’t worry – you are not alone!

  28. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 10:31 am: Yip saw that one…..let’s agree that their are as we all know….problems in reading the law of rugby union…..but for us we can just discuss this and cannot change the law……again wonder how many people thought this to be a problem…not even the commitators or the captains spoke afterwards about it

  29. To me it’s quite simple…

    Law states (as provided @9.28am)
    “…drop out or after a conversion or successful penalty kick
    at goal…”

    So as soon as steyn kicked the conversion the game ended no matter what they wanted to do after… walsh said that aswell at the end.

    my 2c

  30. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 12:41 pm:

    No, that what you are referring to is when play is still active and penalty occurs then game ending action… In this case they try happened (game ending action) then penalty offence, so penalty cannot be awarded

  31. Reply to SubLime @ 12:47 pm:

    sorry but there you are wrong – try was scored and the penalty offense occured and yet there was still 10 seconds on the clock. Game only ended due to the conversion that took up the time.

    So following your argument the penalty could have been awarded That is how I see it anyway.

  32. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 1:14 pm:

    I have now read through the laws in any area that this will or can conceivably be applied – couple of notes:

    * ALL references to penalties or any other sanctions (cards) being awarded in the in-goal area are in instances where no try has been scored.

    * The only exception to this is where a try has been scored, but through foul play, a ‘better’ (placed) try could have been scored to make the conversion easier. Ref can then award a penalty try AND may issue a player with a card (yellow or red) for a foul committed.

    * There is absolutely no reference in the laws to award a penalty on the half way following a try being scored. Either it does not exist or I cannot read.

  33. Reply to Morné @ 1:37 pm: I realize in this case it would not have worked as they were 8 down before the conversion = so another converted try would not have helped – except gain them an extra bonus point

    But if the scores with within 6 before the conversion, could they have declined the conversion and taken the penalty?

  34. Reply to Morné @ 1:36 pm:

    Law 10:
    (n) Misconduct while the ball is out of play. A player, must not, while the ball is out of play,
    commit any misconduct, or obstruct or in any way interfere with an opponent.

    Sanction: Penalty kick
    The sanction is the same as for sections 10.4 (a)-(m) except that the penalty kick is
    awarded at the place where play would restart
    . If that place is on the touchline or within 15
    metres of it, the mark for the penalty kick is on the 15-metre line, in line with that place.
    If play would restart with a drop-out, the non-offending team may choose to take the
    penalty kick anywhere on the 22-metre line.

    In older law books it states all re-starts and NOT specifically the 22m line.

    It does not say specifically anything about a try etc. but when a try is scored the ball is dead hence out of play hence the this law applies IMO.

  35. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 1:14 pm:

    Another couple of important things here:

    The advantage law.

    Law 8.3 (f)

    Advantage cannot be played after the ball has been
    made dead.

    Law 5.7 (e)

    The ball becomes dead when the referee would have awarded a scrum, lineout, an option to the non-infringing team, drop out or after a conversion or successful penalty kick.
    at goal.

  36. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 1:47 pm:


    Law 10 refers to a ball out of play.

    A try does not mean the ball is out of play or dead, only once the conversion takes place is the ball dead. That is why you have to take the conversion with the ball the try has been scored with unless it has been damaged in the view of the referee.

    This is further supported with no reference being made in Law 10 to a penalty on the half way as a restart option.

  37. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 1:53 pm:

    Okay here you have it then:

    If time expires and the ball is not dead, or an awarded scrum or lineout has not been completed, the referee allows play to continue until the next time that the ball becomes dead.

    I have explained above that the ball becomes DEAD after the conversion.

  38. while we are on it – where in the law does it take your BS physics into account regarding forward passes??

    Now all of a sudden you want to talk about the letter of the law :whatever:

  39. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 3:01 pm:

    ‘THROW forward’ (official definition) is an ‘action’ – or do you want to call it something else?

    Ball is either THROWN forward (towards the oppositions goal line) or THROWN backwards (towards his own goal line). The definition is in the action (the throw).

  40. One law that I would like to been changes, is when a team has advantage, a player will throw the ball forward as to enforce a scrum/penalty… This should be seen in the same fashion as when a team get the advantage and kicks the ball away, “advantage over”, in fact, it should then be a penalty for the other team, as its a intentional knock on.

  41. Reply to Nope @ 3:53 pm:

    Nope!! You can’t force a team to play the advantage, this is the players way to say “we will take the penalty sir” and they have to do it this way because in normal circumstances you are not allowed to talk to the ref unless you are the captain.
    However – IMO if they do what you explained above they should not be allowed to take the quick penalty. IMO of course.

  42. But then if the penalizable offence took place whilst play was still live and after the try was scored the ref still had to award the penalty by calling “time off” so that the 10 seconds remaining or so plus his stoppages remained.

    I have to say I prefer JT’s interpretation of the rules here.

  43. Reply to DavidS @ 6:34 pm:

    Not quite.

    Advantage (for the tackle) in the process of the try being scored (not after it was scored) would have been forfeited with the try being scored.

    You can still punish the player for the offence, like card him, but the penalty falls away with the try being scored.

  44. I understood that there weer still ten seconds of ordinary play left when the siren happened.

    Also if my recollection serves me then you need to have something like 90 seconds to take a conversion kick.

    Surely if the ref called the offence penalizable then the correct course of action is to allow the penalty to be taken.

  45. Reply to DavidS @ 6:50 pm:

    Personally I cannot recall when the siren went, but you have 60 seconds to make the conversion.

    Problem however is this.

    Ranger’s offence was not deemed ‘after the try was scored’, it was in the act of scoring the try (the citing commissioners report also states this).

    It was an offence nonetheless – so the advantage for the offence will remain until advantage was achieved – i.e. in this case, try scored or penalty try awarded (since it happened in the in-goal).

    Once the try was scored and awarded, advantage was played and dusted.

    The player was still penalised for the offence (remember the offence is only a tackle offence), by receiving a card (and now suspended).

    No-where in the laws of the game does it make mention of a penalty having to be awarded on the half-way after advantage was gained and the ball goes legally dead (following a conversion).

  46. Reply to CooleyHigh @ 9:50 am: Dont you dare talk about Aplon like that. That was a crap bullshit penalty so thanks for bringing that one up. Kahahuli changed course and milked that penalty.

    Are you one of those under cover kiwi supporters or jaapie haters….?

  47. Kevin I have to say as a Kiwi I totally agree with you that the Aplon card shouldn’t have been a penalty let alone a card. Having said that, only because his foot completely missed Kahui. If a player is diving for the ball and you kick him in the face different story. It was a risky move by Aplon but he missed so shouldn’t have been anything. Ranger’s tackle deserved the two game suspension. I don’t think there was malice in it but he badly mis-timed it so you deal with the consequences.

  48. I found this site when searching for an interpretation on the law at the end of the Bulls/Blues game and I must say I’m enjoying the debate on the rules. My initial reaction was the same as JT. Penalty occurred, you can’t end the game on a penalty, Bulls were hard done by not to get the penalty restart at halfway. But I have to say that Morne seems to make sense. It comes down to whether you deem the penalty to have occurred in the act of scoring or afterwards. If it is in the act, the try ends the advantage. My only question though is this? If it is in the act then couldn’t the Bulls have made a case to get a penalty try. What happens then when Steve Walsh whistles time on? – Morne Steyn kicks a drop goal, ball is dead, three seconds on the clock, Blues now at least have to kick off?

  49. Reply to Paulie @ 8:50 am:

    Hi Paulie, welcome mate.

    On the issue of the penalty try – Walsh would have been in his right to award a penalty try if he believed that the offence (Ranger’s tackle) prevented the try from being scored closer to the poles for an easier conversion.

    On the time issue.

    The clock is not stopped when a try is scored unless of course the ref needs the assistance of the TMO to make a call. If the TMO is called in the clock is stopped, as soon as the decision is made to award the try the ref will signal a try being scored and the clock starts running again.

    Clock keeps running while the team attempts a conversion and actually continues to run even after the conversion to the kick off.

    My understanding was that time was up prior to the conversion. When time is up play will continue until the ball becomes dead and as mentioned above, ball becomes dead after a conversion.

  50. Reply to Morné @ 9:02 am:

    penalty offense occurs before the touch down – right decision should be a penalty try under the posts. (I agree with that)
    Penalty offense occurs after the touch down – restart should be a PK from half way (IMO!)

    Cop-out argument is the “during” BS.

    PS: Question was asked when the hooter went: It was during the conversion. I think the law needs a tweak – after the try is scored and until the Conversion taken the ball is not in play hence the time should be stopped.

  51. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 9:24 am:

    How can you score points if the ball is not in play? You are making no sense.

    And the hooter went after the conversion was made because doing it during the process will put the kicker off – logical.

    Walsh said to Spies after try was scored that time is up.

  52. Reply to Morné @ 9:32 am:

    and spies told the ref their is still 10 secounds left…

    All in all the incident opened the debate about the Laws of the game not being clear and this is only the tip of the iceberg!

    Lets discuss the farce called the breakdown! :pot:

  53. Reply to JT_BOKBEFOK! @ 9:36 am:

    Is Spies the timekeeper now?

    Any event, if there was only 10 seconds left after the try was scored there is no way in hell Morne could have set up the conversion and kick it in that time – remembering a snap drop would not have meant a thing as the conversion got them within 6 points.

  54. Reply to Jacques(Bunny) @ 9:09 am:

    No, because Bray offers no explanations why it should be different citing the specific laws why.

    He offers an opinion.

    This is not a discussion or debate about interpretation, it is about the laws of the game, and no-where in the laws does it say Walsh was wrong.