In 1823, William Webb Ellis first picked up the ball in his arms and ran with it. And for the next 156 years forwards have been trying to work out why. - Tasker Watkins VC, LJ.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

HEC Round One - Citings & Tip-Tackles, Part II - Marty & Brits

The decisions in these two cases are now up on the ERC website.(I know Marty was in the Amlin Cup, but for shorthand in thread titles, HEC is it). You can read the David Marty decision HERE and the Schalk Brits decision HERE

And I would encourage everyone to do so, especially the Schalk Brits decision. It is a superb, categorical review of the laws and cases in the area in the "Discussion and Decision" section from page 8 of the decision onwards, including a very handy table of recent decisions on Law 10 (4) (j), the law about tip-tackles, between pages 12 and 14. Rod McKenzie is heartily to be congratulated on an exemplary piece of work; he has set out the history of the laws and memos in the area, the current state of the laws, the recent decisions, and then applied them in a very, very fair manner.

This is exactly how a judicial system should operate. The ERC have, to their credit, been at the forefront in this, and are to be congratulated; when a system starts to deliver consistent, clear, well-reasoned decisions like this, with a clear principle that can be taken from the judgement and applied on the pitch, it's a sign the system is working.

The decision, albeit long enough at 18 pages, is so immaculately clear that there really isn't much I can say about it; it speaks for itself. All I can do is encourage everyone to listen to it as it does; commentators, coaches, and players should all read it as a perfect guide to the Laws in the area.

It is noticeable between the two decisions that, as I noted, the ERC are taking a very clear line following on exactly from that set down in the RWC (the RWC decisions are cited, approved and followed in the two decision). I think it can now be stated, conclusively, that the Stephen Jones decision was, as I've said, the exception; it is so far out of kilter with the other decisions that it looks increasingly like a mistake.

The principle is now crystal-clear; if you lift a player, bring him down arse-first, or take the consequences (the discussion of the tackle technique taught in the Brits decision is particularly instructive on this front). Or, to be even simpler; don't lift in the tackle unless you KNOW you can bring him down safely. If in doubt, go low and trust the next man in to jackal. And, to repeat; when you can distill the principles from the decisions down to two one-line sentences that a coach can yell from the sidelines and that players can remember in the heat of the tackle and breakdown, that means the system is working properly.

So, in a phrase I don't write or say that often; well done, the ERC.

The only small quibble I have is this; the table refers to a written decision of the ML disciplinary system last year. Those decisions, unlike the ERC's, aren't published. Is it to much to ask now that after the ERC have gone to the trouble of putting this decision together that the general public be allowed to read those decisions as well, to see from exactly where the current rules have come? After all, as the ERC decisions show; transparency leads to consistency, which leads to the message getting across.

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