Clip 1 - 4 December 2017 - Law 12


Anthony Watson, the England fullback, kicks downfield. Bernard Foley, the Australian flyhalf, gathers the ball, runs forward, kicks ahead and chases his kick. The ball bounces high as Jonny Mazy (14) of England leaps for the ball. May extends his right arm to its full height. His hand is facing the ball and knocks it forward, may goes to ground an d is cradling the ball when the referee blows his whistle.


A knock-on occurs when a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward, and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.
'Forward' means towards the opposing team's dead-ball line.

Certainly ball and hand collide and the ball goes forward.

If May then caught the ball before it hit the ground, it would not have been a knock-on.
If the ball had hit ground before May cradled it, it would have been a knock-on.

The referee decides on two things - two quick happenings - that Foley had not infringed by touching May in the air and that the ball had touched the ground before May caught it.

And so he awards a scrum.

But Law 12 has more to say.

Law 12.1 The outcome of a knock-on or throw forward
(f) Intentional knock or throw forward. A player must not intentionally knock the ball forward with hand or arm, nor throw forward.
Sanction: Penalty kick. A penalty try must be awarded if the offence prevents a try that would probably otherwise have been scored.

If May had done in trying to intercept a pass what he did here. he would have been penalised and probably yellowcarded.
If May had slapped a pass over a defender's head and run round to catch it. He would still have been penalised even if he caught the ball.

In this incident, May has no chance of catching the ball without knocking it forward.
What he does is done of his own volition.
Considering it an intentional knock-on is not farfetched.

A penalty would not have been unreasonable! advert