Clip 4 - 5 May 2017 - Law 15

"Beaten by the clean-out."

From a line-out the Blues go left. They are closely marked and when Murphy Taramai charges forward he is tackle by Billy Meakes (12) of the Force. They both go to ground, Meakes clinging to Taramai's left ankle. Meakes get to his feet, hands down and plays the ball as Patrick Tuipolotu crashes into him. The referee penalises Meakes saying that he was "beaten by the clean-out".

It is not clear what this means. There is nothing in the laws that suggests that there is any offence of this nature.

There has been some discussion that suggested that the tackler had to play the ball IMMEDIATELY. He was not allowed to wait for the clean-out to pass over him and then get up and play the ball.

This may be because in the clean-out a ruck was formed. Otherwise there is nothing in the law that tells the tackler to play the ball immediately.

Law 15.4 THE TACKLER
(c) The tackler must get up before playing the ball and then may play the ball from any direction.
Sanction: Penalty kick

That said, it does say that he must immediately get up or move away.

Law 15.4 THE TACKLER
(b) The tackler must immediately get up or move away from the tackled player and from the ball at once.
Sanction: Penalty kick

If the fraction of a second that it took Meakes to get onto his feet is not immediately, one wonders what is.

This leaves only the action of Jerome Kaino (8) of the Blues. He charges past the tackle and beyond the tackle (and the ball) blocks big Richie Arnold, who may or may not have been attending to play at the tackle.

This may have been considered "cleaning out".

These two, Kaino and Arnold, are considered "Other players". There is nothing in the law that makes provision for a "clean out" though it seems to be implied in the law on Forbidden Practices.

Law 15.7 (d) Players on their feet must not charge or obstruct an opponent who is not near the ball.
Sanction: Penalty kick

Near, according to the laws is within one metre.

Arnold may be a metre from the ball when Kaino charges into him. He may be slightly more than a metre from the ball. Certainly the contact does not form a ruck. It's too far from the ball for that.

It may just be that Kaino's action is the really illegal one.

Law 10.4 (e) Playing a player without the ball is dangerous play.
Sanction: Penalty kick.

And

Law 10.4 (f) Playing an opponent without the ball. Except in a scrum, ruck or maul, a player who is not in possession of the ball must not hold, push or obstruct an opponent not carrying the ball.
Sanction: Penalty kick

And

Law 10.1 (d) Blocking the ball. A player must not intentionally move or stand in a position that prevents an opponent from playing the ball.
Sanction: Penalty kick

Meakes is understandably confused.

It is better for a referee to give explanations in terms of the law. That is also a check on himself to apply the law as it stands.

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