ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday, Augest 26, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 13

Proper interpretation of law crucial

Knowledge management is a hot subject today. What is this and why is it important? 'KM' comprises a range of practices used by organizations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness and learning. Whatever you do there is a vast reservoir of knowledge. There is no difference in the field of sports. This knowledge is available to the followers of rugby too. The need is to convert the data to information for better use.

The areas of interest vary according to the level of involvement of the individual. This could be as a spectator, a player, coach, and referee or as an administrator. While data is available the same will be effective depending on the application as well as the interpretation of the information that is at hand. Conversion of data to information and knowledge is what is required.

Recently I witnessed a rugby match that was played among the schools for the all island under eighteen ten-a-side championship. A particular incident and the discussion thereafter prompt me to narrate what took place. A player in the field of play from the attacking side kicks the ball into in goal. A defending player collects it and runs across in goal with no gain of ground and is more close to the dead ball line. Under pressure and in desperation the defender kicks the ball which is miss-kicked and travels across and bounces in goal more closely to the goal line. It is chased by the attacking team to score while the defenders to prevent a try.

The ball passes the playing area and thus becomes dead. The referee awards a five metre scrum. The discussion that is generated among those who are guiding teams at the highest level is whether it should be a five metre scrum or a twenty two metre drop out. Differing opinions expressed not by whom we call the knowledgeable spectators and or administrators but by people who are involved in guiding players. Some say five metre others say twenty two metre drop out. The attacking player having taken the ball into in goal and the ball becomes dead it should have been a twenty two metre drop out.

That is not the end of discussion. The referee made a mistake and this put the defending team under pressure. This is what is said as others involved join in after the match: "the post mortem". Thankfully no score was made. True enough you were under pressure but did you not get away and luck was on your side? What is that? . When the ball was kicked from in goal from a place closer to the dead ball line all players of the kickers team (defenders) who went for the ball were in front of the man who last played the ball. There should have been a penalty to the attacking side or may be a penalty try for having prevented what mat have been a score. The side that did not get the penalty has not come to the discussion. Possibly they never realized what happened.

We continue with the discussion with a new interpretation. There is no off side in goal. This was the view expressed by another who is expected to know. The reason may be that of not having taken into account in goal play as a whole. The law state that in goal infringements are treated same as they had taken place in the field of play. So there is an off side. What cannot take place in goal is a scrum ruck or maul where thus the off side law does not apply.

The arguments of how the whistle should have gone are common at most matches and spectators have their say. Mostly from data picked up from discussion. These lead to more discussion and sometimes public opining expressed. By narrating the above incident what I am trying to emphasize is that experts too can have different views. They may not always be correct. The game and its laws are complex and are not easy to be known by all. The man with the whistle has no opportunity to consult but has to make that decision. Neither has he access to replays. Talking of mistakes an area that most penalties are given by teams is at the tackle, ruck and maul. In a typical game at the top kevel there are about 150 rucks and mauls in a game as indicated in the game analysis statistics published by IRB on the six nations.

If teams are to succeed this crucial aspect of the game has to be sorted out. If this is done many other parts will fall into place. Think back to some games you have watched when your team should have won. Think of the many situations where your team rucked badly? This includes possession or territory squandered by disorganized players. Penalties given away by ill-disciplined players arriving illegally at the ruck, or maul or keeping their "hands on" the ball. The ball turned over at the contact contest because players weren't able to ruck quickly or forcefully. Think and think again where the match was lost and use the knowledge for better performance.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.