Will the "dark arts" be called out by referees during the RWC?

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Post by bsando on Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:14 pm

After reading an article about Barrett placing the ball 2m closer to the posts against SA while Nic Berry had his back turned, it made me consider some other notable incidents over the past few years. For example, Kieran Read deliberately slapping the ball out of Laidlaw's hands at a ruck in 2017 while Scotland were right on the AB's line. Whitelock doing something similar in the Super Rugby final in the final minutes. I'm sure you will have some good examples for your own team that at the time perhaps infuriated you, but goes down as the "dark arts". I have no qualms with Read's actions in 2017 as it was very sly and most importantly, it worked. It's one of rugby's little intricacies that makes the game so watchable.

Then there is also the debate regarding Owen Farrell's contentious tackling technique, the scrum laws being changed due to axial loading to gain an advantage, collapsing mauls discretely, raising arms/calling out for turnovers to influence the ref when the tackled player has barely hit the floor, a long list of trickery.

As players and coaches work hard with their teams, will ref's and world Rugby also be looking to be crack down on some of said trickery that will no doubt occur this world cup? And would the game be the same/as a good as it is without the dark arts?

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Post by NeilyBroon on Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:25 pm

I think probably not as the focus at the moment seems to be on player safety (quite rightly) and cheating that doesn't cause harm (other than psychological harm to the fans and players) is probably genuinely not noticed rather than ignored because the ref is busy making sure the players aren't compressing each others spines or judo flipping someone by the neck.

I think there has got to be a level of flexibility, but sometimes this flexibility comes at detriment to the game. Defences that line up half a metre in front of the ruck, choke tackles, trying for penalties at scrum time, all create a dull spectacle and don't add anything to the game. Blitz defence particularly annoys me, I'm yet to see a team that implements it onside, it just ruins attacking flow and forces teams to play conservatively. Another thing is ball blocking with bodies, then winning a penalty for the other team "holding on". Trying to deliver a ball from a ruck past a 19 stone prop who has laid straight in front of you with his arms in the air to show he's not holding you in the tackle is probably incredibly difficult.
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Post by tigertattie on Wed Jul 31, 2019 8:56 pm

The dark arts is cheating, plain and simple. If the ref catches you at it, then you should be penalised.

In this day and age, how on earth did Barrett moving 2m closer to the posts not get noticed by the ref, assitant refs or the TMO? I never saw it (the game), but surely it was noticable? If it was then the TMO should have told Berry and in the spirit of the game, made Barrett put the ball back to where it should have been, or in my opinion, reverse the penalty and he'd not get to take the kick at goal!

The issue with this cheating is that all teams try it. If I was a New Zealander, I'd ben grinning from ear to ear when Reid slapped the ball out of Laidlaw's hand, but as a scot I was incensed that he got away with it.

For me these "dark arts" can ruin the outcome of the game so often that the only way to deal with this is to have a coaches challenge. If you see something that the ref misses, you should be able to contact the TMO to have it reviewed right away, if the TMO thinks it needs investigated, then a proper review is done.

Each team gets one challenge which is used up if your challenge fails.

The only issue now is that so often the refs stil lget it wrong after reviewing the footage so we either need better refs, or make the laws more black and white!
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Post by Collapse2005 on Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:25 pm

tigertattie wrote:The dark arts is cheating, plain and simple. If the ref catches you at it, then you should be penalised.

In this day and age, how on earth did Barrett moving 2m closer to the posts not get noticed by the ref, assitant refs or the TMO? I never saw it (the game), but surely it was noticable? If it was then the TMO should have told Berry and in the spirit of the game, made Barrett put the ball back to where it should have been, or in my opinion, reverse the penalty and he'd not get to take the kick at goal!

The issue with this cheating is that all teams try it. If I was a New Zealander, I'd ben grinning from ear to ear when Reid slapped the ball out of Laidlaw's hand, but as a scot I was incensed that he got away with it.

For me these "dark arts" can ruin the outcome of the game so often that the only way to deal with this is to have a coaches challenge. If you see something that the ref misses, you should be able to contact the TMO to have it reviewed right away, if the TMO thinks it needs investigated, then a proper review is done.

Each team gets one challenge which is used up if your challenge fails.

The only issue now is that so often the refs stil lget it wrong after reviewing the footage so we either need better refs, or make the laws more black and white!



It was more like 3 meters, he really was taking the pi$$. He first rolled it forward, then kicked it forward, then placed it forward while Read distracted the ref by chatting to him while leading him away from the ball.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1155533004535672832

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Post by Irish Londoner on Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:26 pm

The "dark arts" are for better or worse part of rugby and as long, as fans, we are prepared to have a crafty chuckle when our own team "gets away with it" then it'll never leave the game. The fluid nature of the applications of the laws in rugby by referees from the highest to the lowest level means that there is much more room for "creative" behaviour by players.
From the first day I started rugby at school the one thing drummed into us was, "it's only an offence if the referee sees it and calls it. If the referee calls it you don't argue or swear, you say "sorry sir" and retreat ten before he gets a good look at you".

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Post by GeordieFalcon on Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:01 pm

You play to the edge of the law...or you bend them as much as you can get away with .

Its always gone on and always will as the Ref cant watch everything.

Ritchie McCaw, Neil back, Sam Warburton just a couple of examples of recent great 7's who pushed it as much as they could to give their team the advantage...

I have no issue with it.

EDIT - The ones i have issues with are foul play such as fish hooking the mouth or eye gouging etc, and diving. Serious bans for both of those.

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Post by Rinsure on Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:02 pm

Irish Londoner wrote:
From the first day I started rugby at school the one thing drummed into us was, "it's only an offence if the referee sees it and calls it. If the referee calls it you don't argue or swear, you say "sorry sir" and retreat ten before he gets a good look at you".

When moving up a level from schools rugby to a decent level of club rugby, my new coach took one look at the fluorescent laces in my boots and told me to "piss off and come back with black ones". Previously an outside back who migrated to the number 6 shirt, I was at a loss until one of the other lads took me to one side and explained that if a bunch of boots were "sanitizing" a ruck, it would be blindingly obvious if my garish laces were involved and I would risk giving a penalty away every ruck.

I pissed off and came back with black laces, and never looked back.

Anyway, on topic, I think that it's impossible to police all aspects of "dark arts" Poopie in open play, but the example posted above by Barrett is particularly egregious, and I can't believe it went unspotted by the assistant refs (admittedly, they were probably taking up position behind the sticks) or the TMO.


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Post by No 7&1/2 on Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:04 pm

Dark arts dont bother me. Just part of the game where players see what they can get away with. Top of my annoyance list is players appealing eg Danny cares last game for england where he wasted continuous quick ball vs nz to try and get a pen. And worse when it comes off against you.

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Post by Irish Londoner on Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:05 pm

Rinsure wrote:
Irish Londoner wrote:
From the first day I started rugby at school the one thing drummed into us was, "it's only an offence if the referee sees it and calls it. If the referee calls it you don't argue or swear, you say "sorry sir" and retreat ten before he gets a good look at you".

When moving up a level from schools rugby to a decent level of club rugby, my new coach took one look at the fluorescent laces in my boots and told me to "piss off and come back with black ones". Previously an outside back who migrated to the number 6 shirt, I was at a loss until one of the other lads took me to one side and explained that if a bunch of boots were "sanitizing" a ruck, it would be blindingly obvious if my garish laces were involved and I would risk giving a penalty away every ruck.

I pissed off and came back with black laces, and never looked back.

Anyway, on topic, I think that it's impossible to police all aspects of "dark arts" Poopie in open play, but the example posted above by Barrett is particularly egregious, and I can't believe it went unspotted by the assistant refs (admittedly, they were probably taking up position behind the sticks) or the TMO.


The referee already makes "the mark" for kicks, scrums, etc. would the simplest answer be to give them a tin of shaving foam like the soccer referees to make the mark rather than scraping the grass?

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Post by Rinsure on Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:14 pm

Irish Londoner wrote:
The referee already makes "the mark" for kicks, scrums, etc. would the simplest answer be to give them a tin of shaving foam like the soccer referees to make the mark rather than scraping the grass?

I have an inbuilt aversion to anything which makes rugby more like football, and in this case it seems like a sledgehammer to crack a nut. If this were more widespread, then perhaps I'd agree, but since it's a rare occurrence (as shown by how this has blown up) then perhaps just a degree of added vigilance is necessary. Besides, with all the camera and microphone tech., rugby refs are already well laden! We do still expect them to keep up with play!

I can't speak for how often this occurs at grass roots levels though, and the "shaving foam" solution might be appropriate there.


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Post by Taylorman on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:07 am

Have to agree with the OP, I guess they are:

"Snyman was 117 kilograms of shaggy roast boer coming at torpedo speed to take out an unsuspecting Retallick at the back of a ruck.

It was clear to everyone, except monocled South Africans, that Snyman did not stampede through the virtual gate, unless the veld gate is as wide as a Limpopo barn door.

While referees whistle this dangerous offence at club and provincial level, test referees are permitting a free for all, as in everyone leaving their feet. Apparently they are trying to limit penalties."

Not that we are moaning about it. We'll just sit back and watch others get all upset about the pinching of a yard or two in he opp 22, while our guys getting invalided out of the tournament. Such a crime. Odd how the former isnt the example. Im sure if AWJ were invalided out like that these pages would require a boost to the hard drive.

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Post by Cyril on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:18 am

I’d consider the likes of Stuart Hogg diving and simulating injury, not to mention O’Brien squealing in the ref’s face at every breakdown as being more of a problem in the game than a kicker trying to steal a yard or two at a penalty.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:20 am

Would it be fair to say that cheating is more acceptable in English culture than elsewhere? Thats the sense I get in particular when these sorts of questions arise. Although I accept Cyril doesnt speak for all English people.


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Post by Cyril on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:40 am

Eh? Cheating is in the Irish culture and all part of the craic, no? That’s the impression I get. Most Irish would do anything to get an edge. It’s a badge of honour almost (in sport and all facets of life). It’s all ok until you get get caught though, in sport and everything. Not mentioning tax (ahem).

Isn’t that what this post is about? Don’t get caught.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:46 am

You reckon? What has your experience been?

Not sure I get the reference to tax.

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Post by Cyril on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:53 am

Ok, explain how cheating is acceptable in English culture (more so than in Irish)?

I think tax is a given.

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Post by Pie on Thu Aug 01, 2019 2:36 pm

Dark arts? You mean ABs cheating? I suspect not.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:25 pm

Cyril wrote:Ok, explain how cheating is acceptable in English culture (more so than in Irish)?

I think tax is a given.

Tax is a given? This should be good. Explain for the laugh.

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Post by Cyril on Thu Aug 01, 2019 5:56 pm

You brought the subject up. Maybe you could explain what you meant by cheating in English culture?

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:06 pm

Ha no I didnt bring tax up but it would be quite easy to show you how Britain has used British overseas terroritories as a conduit for the banking industry to avoid tax sucessfully for the better part of a century now. Irelands "double Irish" (now defunct) taxation which allowed big corporations to pay their tax in British overseas terrorities is a drop in the ocean to what has being going on in the UK. Tax wouldnt be a great example for you to compare Ireland and the England in terms of cheating.

The real reason old money Tories are so keen to leave the EU has nothing to do with straight bananas and blue passports.

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Post by Rinsure on Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:51 pm

Do we make a distinction between outright cheating, and "dark arts" gamesmanship? To me, the "dark arts" largely constitute methods and attempts to gain an advantage (normally over one's opposite number) through legal(ish), unobservable and creatively ambiguous sh1thousery.

An example which comes to mind is a prop with whom I used to play, who would apply a layer of deep heat (or Vics rub, I can't remember the specifics) to the bandage and tape around his ears. The opposing front row were definitely not fans. I don't think this is against the letter of the law... but definitely gave him (and us by extension) an advantage...

As opposed to illegal clear-outs, diving, stealing yards, brandishing imaginary cards and so on, all of which are a blight on the game.



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Post by Tramptastic on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:03 pm

I miss the days of 80s/90s Scottish rugby where our forwards were the king of "gamesmanship" (or blatant cheating).

We used to be the country most associated with the "dark arts" but our forwards have lost their edge since then. Perhaps a bit too "honourable" or just cr*p.

Ireland have inherited this mantle, seeing a Irish backrower approaching the breakdown gives me a nervous twitch cause you know we're about to concede a penalty/knock on/implode

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Post by Irish Londoner on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:06 pm

Collapse2005 wrote:Would it be fair to say that cheating is more acceptable in English culture than elsewhere? Thats the sense I get in particular when these sorts of questions arise. Although I accept Cyril doesnt speak for all English people.


To be fair one of the aspects of the Irish character (at least in the past) is the admiration for the "Cute Hoor", someone who breaks the rules in plain sight for the benefit of themselves but does it with a smile and wink.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:09 pm

Irish Londoner wrote:
Collapse2005 wrote:Would it be fair to say that cheating is more acceptable in English culture than elsewhere? Thats the sense I get in particular when these sorts of questions arise. Although I accept Cyril doesnt speak for all English people.


To be fair one of the aspects of the Irish character (at least in the past) is the admiration for the "Cute Hoor", someone who breaks the rules in plain sight for the benefit of themselves but does it with a smile and wink.

Yes indeed. Still prevails in politics but not quite Charles H proportions. There are quite dishonest people out there. Are you familiar with the Maria Bailey case? That has got everyone talking in Ireland over the last few months.

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Post by Yoda on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:22 pm

Still think the best example of cheating on a rugby field was Neil back scooping the ball out of Peter stringers hand at scrum time into the Leicester second row. Munster I think were pushing hard for a try in a semi final of the euros? As for the points about dangerous foul play absolutely no need in the modern game. Snyman was nowhere near the gate in fact he just blind sided retallick and should have been given a yellow. How many times have we seen that punished at premiership level as well as players off their feet. It got to ridiculous levels during the bok and NZ game I'm surprised there wasn't more injury. Refs need to set their standards out early and get players competing at the breakdown safely and on their bloody feet.

The one though that really grinds my gears is refs not going through the very clear tackle laws: tackler release FIRST then tackled player can set the ball and then all other players can compete. If no 1 doesn't happen it's a pen even if 10 defenders are jacking correctly (again another contentious issue, not on knees weight off hands and actually holding ball not a bit of the torso). The only ref who gets this consistently correct is Wayne Barnes.

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Post by tigertattie on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:42 pm

GeordieFalcon wrote:You play to the edge of the law...or you bend them as much as you can get away with .

Its always gone on and always will as the Ref cant watch everything.

Ritchie McCaw, Neil back, Sam Warburton just a couple of examples of recent great 7's who pushed it as much as they could to give their team the advantage...

I have no issue with it.

EDIT - The ones i have issues with are foul play such as fish hooking the mouth or eye gouging etc, and diving. Serious bans for both of those.

I'm not saying I agree with "diving" but how is that in the same category as eye gouging?

There's offenses that are clearly intended to injur, such as eye gouching, going at someone's head with a shoulder then there are offences where no physical harm takes place such as diving or slapping the ball out of someones hand.

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Post by Collapse2005 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 7:44 pm

Id like to see a refs view on the Snyman incident. Looked like he came from behind the hindmost foot (at a bit of an angle) and bound as he hit the ruck. Ok the point at which he joined was not at the hindmost foot but thats pretty much par for the course in cleaning out rucks. It tends to be fine if you at least come in from behind the point of the hind most point which he technically did.

It tends to be where rule 9.20 is infringed that players get yellows at the ruck:

Dangerous play in a ruck or maul.
A player must not charge into a ruck or maul. Charging includes any contact made without binding onto another player in the ruck or maul.

There was a bind though so at most I think this would be a penalty for not entering the ruck at the hind most foot.

Not nice to see good players like Retallick get injured though but at least a shoulder dislocation should see him back soon. Maybe the rules dont protect players enough?

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Post by Tramptastic on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:01 pm

It all gets a bit ambigious though when a ref has to decide how fast "too fast" is when entering a ruck

I've been on the receiving end of a prop who had a good extra 30/40kgs charging in to the ruck "binding" and clearing me out. Due to how my ankle was set I tore my AFTL.

Not safe but because he did the minimum required for a bind it was legal, no penalty given but I ended up off the pitch and out of training for 6 months.

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Post by No 7&1/2 on Thu Aug 01, 2019 8:25 pm

Wonder how long it will take Snyman to pick up a bad rep. In the england south Africa game where everyone was up in arms about Farrell it gets quite lost that Snyman clearednout Kruis with no arms and shoulder to head.

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Post by maestegmafia on Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:38 pm

I thought the title said ANTs 🐜 not Arts..!

The whole post makes more sense now.

Might bring that opticians appointment forward a month

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Post by Irish Londoner on Thu Aug 01, 2019 11:46 pm

maestegmafia wrote:I thought the title said ANTs 🐜 not Arts..!

The whole post makes more sense now.

Might bring that opticians appointment forward a month

On the other hand with eyesight like that you should contact the WRU about referee's courses......

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