Penalty (rugby)

From Academic Kids

In rugby football, a penalty is a sanction available to the referee to penalise players who commit deliberate infringements. The team who did not commit the infringement are given possession of the ball and may either kick it towards touch (in which case the ball back rule is waived), attempt a place kick at goal, or tap the ball with their foot and run it.

Penalties in rugby union

The referee signals that he has awarded a penalty to a side by raising his arm at 45 degrees between vertical and horizontal and blowing a blast on his whistle. The arm is raised on the side that won the penalty. Penalties may be awarded for a number of offences, including:

  • Failing to release the ball after being tackled.
  • Entering a ruck or maul from the side.
  • Leaving one's feet in the ruck.
  • Being offside and not making an effort to move to an onside position.
  • Tackling an opponent above the shoulders.
  • Tackling an opponent who is not in possession of the ball.
  • Obstructing an opponent from tackling the ball-carrier (crossing).
  • Not being ten meters at a penalty

The side that won the penalty must restart the game with a kick. The side that the penalty was awarded against must retreat 10 metres. There are four ways of restarting the game;

  • A tap penalty, often taken quickly to exploit lack of organisation in the opposition's retreating defence, is where a player drops the ball onto his foot and kicks it up into his arms and then carries the ball forward.
  • A kick to touch. The side with the penalty gets the throw-in to the resultant line-out, from which they have a good chance of securing possession. This is used mainly to gain territory though it is also used as a tactic to gain a platform for a rolling maul near the opponents try line and muscle over for a score.
  • A kick at goal. The kick at goal is usually taken off the ground from a sand or plastic tee (though it is possible to drop kick the ball). If it is successful, they score three points, and the opposition restart from the centre line. If the penalty is missed, a 22 metre drop-out is awarded to the opposition.
  • A scrum. A team may opt to have a scrum. This would normally be taken if an attacking team wished to have all the defensive forwards tied up in one place allowing the backs the luxury of a one on one confronatation. Alternatively, if a team has ascendency in the scrums they may try for a pushover try, which may result in the award of a penalty try if the scrums are deliberately collapsed by the defending side.

One of the laws associated with penalties has been adopted by association football, that being that penalties may be moved 10 metres forward of their original position either due to talk-back from the players or offside from a quick tap penalty.

Penalties in rugby league

Penalties operate in roughly the same manner as in union, but with some slight differences. Firstly, the implication is that a side either takes a tap kick or a shot at goal. They can kick for touch, but, if the ball makes it into touch, the side then takes a tap kick 10m infield from the point where the ball went into touch (except where it goes into touch inside the opposition's 10m line, in which case the tap is taken from the 10m line), as opposed to a scrum. They can also tap the ball from where the penalty was awarded. In both instances, the defending side must remain 10m from the ball until the tap kick is taken.

The penalty may also be place-kicked towards goal. If successful, the kicking side scores two points. If the kick is unsuccessful and the ball is caught by the opposition before it leaves the field of play, play continues. If the ball goes into touch-in-goal or over the dead ball line, then play is restarted with a drop-out from the offenders' 20m line.

Penalties may be awarded for:

  • Offside
  • Tackling an opponent above the shoulders
  • Tackling an opponent who is not in possession of the ball
  • Obstructing an opponent from tackling the ball-carrier
  • Failing to retreat 10m from an opposition play-the-ball
  • If marker at the play-the-ball, failing to stand opposite it
  • Kicking the ball into touch, touch-in-goal, or over the dead ball line on the full from the kick-off

There is also a differential penalty, awarded for technical breaches when a scrum is packed (as opposed to foul play within a scrum). A penalty goal cannot be scored from a differential penalty.

See also


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