The incredible 'backwards out the hands' rule

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May 28, 2019, 13:51

Suppose a runner is heading across the field at 150 degrees....and he passes to the right....backwards out the hands. What is absolutely guaranteed? The ball will travel forward!

Backwards out the hand only makes sense if the player is heading substantially straight up the field. If he is heading at about 70 degrees as the Crusader was at Newlands, the ball should go backwards.

But it didn't....on a 10 metre pass it went 2 metres forward relative to the field. Ah but it was drift they say. Maybe there was some drift, but the player had been virtually stopped dead 15 metres before by a JJ tackle....and his momentum up the field wasn't that great.

This was a forward pass, and the Saffa commentators have bought into the NZ whining, without even thinking. Incredible!

The truth is this is a terrible rule, requiring calculations that a ref can't make. Show me a pass which is backwards out of the hand, and I'll show you an offload. Every pass is forward out the's the swing of the arms they are trying to gauge.

But hold on the wrists and even the fingers can mitigate that's unreliable. If you apply that rule as the only determinant, some passes which go laterally or even backwards....are actually forward out the hands.

Are we then going to call them forward passes? Of course not. The rule is really backwards or backwards out the hand.

Every lateral pass from a player drifting substantially to the right is forward out of the hands....and therefore a forward pass according to the rule.

If the objective is that a ball should not go forward, except for drift.......we have the most complicated rule in sports. Impossible to referee without technology....not just visual technology.....a chip and an algorithm.

Ninety five percent of passes go backwards relative to the field, as always intended. Apply the old doesn't rely on drift as a spectacle.

May 28, 2019, 17:07

The receiver should be behind the passer when the ball is passed...and the"out of the hands backward" thing is just the existing interpretation of the " not throwing the ball towards the opposing goal line. "

It is a difficult thing to judge. Physics isn't for everyone, especially New Zeelanders :D

May 28, 2019, 17:48

Trouble with 'receiver behind the passer' is it doesn't preclude a lobbed pass which goes substantially forward.....till now that's confined to kicking, which requires more skill. We don't want to turn the game into net ball.

Here's another physical rule that partially works......the ball must be caught behind the passer. If the passer is unimpeded he continues forward, simulates drift and establishes a forward pass line. Like a kick.

Trouble is, as we saw with Jean de Villiers to Lambie, if the passer is impeded.....the rule is hard to apply. And the lobbed forward pass remains a problem.

May 28, 2019, 18:09

If the ball travels forward, no matter the momentum, it's a forward pass.

Anyone can pass the ball forward with the hand action going backward. It's all to do with timing. I use it in tennis all the time. 

May 28, 2019, 19:28

This wasn't such a big deal until the 2000s. Possibly because, with the gain line obsession imported from League, the defence and the attack is shallower.

Requiring true non forward passes will create a bit of attacking angle and depth among the backs....perhaps one extra step before they meet.

Of course it could also encourage more kicking if the gain line is at risk.

May 28, 2019, 19:49

OK ,if I throw an apple out of my moving car .I fling it sideways out of my drivers window for 10m.It has forward momentum before I threw it so it should end up in front of the point that I threw it from.(if I drew an imaginary line from the point where I threw it)

Therefore most flat passes are technically forward passes,unless one standing still or running backwards whilst passing.

May 28, 2019, 20:00

In places like Dunedin and Cape Town and others the wind can play a part...yes I'm being a spoilsport to this technically, in cricket an off spin can be disguised as a leg spin and vica versa (sic), yeah that's intentional.

With respect, the only way around this issue is to judge whether the ball left the passers hand level or backwards...that's the easiest way to adjudicate, anything more complicated adds another dimension to a host of other complexities that now bedevils the game...the old adage, kiss, in other words... keep it simple stupid should apply and yes Moz you also get NW and SE blasts in Cape Town...ofcourse you know that:D

May 28, 2019, 21:52

How do you know when you're dealing with a rugby noob?

First off, he'll talk about the "rules" of rugby when any real rugby follower knows that rugby has laws rather than rules.

Secondly he'll whine and moan about laws he doesn't understand . . .. like the forward pass law.

Finally, he'll have you believe that the forward momentum of a player doesn't count toward the trajectory of the ball when said player releases it.

Moffie ticks all three noob boxes.

May 28, 2019, 22:08

Backwards out of the hands suits the All Blacks more than the Boks. Many of our backline players cant pass, let alone when running at full speed.

It seems the faster someone runs and the longer the pass, the more forward a straight pass would be. 
A floating pass could also bend forward, even if it initially went backwards. Like a free kick on football that bends around the wall. 
This would make defence harder to line up an opponent and close down his pace.

May 28, 2019, 22:38

How would it change things if the the rule was that the ball had to stay behind the player that passed it?

Pass forward if you want, but just make sure you're faster than the ball.

Say the ball was traveling at 20 degrees.

Would the passer be able to cover the forward progress that the ball makes in relation to the field?

Probably would make any difference. Might be easier to call though.

May 29, 2019, 02:20

He would have to be continuously ahead of the pass Plum, not just when it's caught, to avoid the lobbed pass. And a simulation would be needed if the passer is impeded.

Peeper obsessing about the difference between rugby rules and rugby laws. And then not understanding that significant drift only occurs when players are flat out and not running laterally. Draw a little picture that might help you get over the obvious.

May 29, 2019, 06:12

"Draw a little picture that might help you get over the obvious."


Laughing Graphics

May 31, 2019, 10:12

I cannot understand how one of the oldest laws in the rugby law book has become such a contentious subject. I have a number of years’ law books downloaded on my laptop and it has been pretty straight forward. 

In the 2019 version it simply says something to the effect that you are not allowed to THROW the ball forward. In earlier versions it said that you are not allowed to THROW the ball towards the opposition try line. 

Now have a look at the  hand written 1871 proposed laws of the game. Check law 27. 

1871 Laws of Rugby

Knocking on, ie deliberately hitting the ball with the hand and Throwing forward, ie throwing the ball in the direction of the opponents goal line are not lawful.”

I am sure that all this hairsplitting and replays and arguments about drifting and, and, and.... was never the intention of the law makers. 

The decisive issue, IMO, is that you have to go and have a look at what the law addresses. It says nothing about the “reaction” of the ball and it only addresses the actions of the player. It says nothing about the path or the travel or direction or whatever of the ball. In the following video the so-called drifting of the ball is explained in detail. The narrator do, however make the same mistake as many commentators, pundits, armchair experts, etc, make. He also talks about a forward pass being when the ball travels forward. BS. That is not in the laws and never has been. 

May 31, 2019, 10:41

Good post Cera but just remember that in the old days rugby balls were heavier and made out of leather so drifts were not common if they happened at all but strong gusts of wind were, those winds in Newlands and Kings Park were very strong and were big factors not so much for passing but kicking and other aspects of the game such as playing against the wind in the first half and playing with in the second half. But yes I cannot ever recall any controversy relating to passing.

Marius Jonker is a plonker and is either deliberately biase or is ignorant of these rules and misunderstands the interpretation thereof. .

May 31, 2019, 12:00

I hear what you are saying about the new balls and the wind and, and, and, but that just serves to confirm the fact that this entire forward pass debate is an overrated nothing burger. 

Once again, the law is not about the reactions of the ball, ie the ball drifting forward due to the weight and/or construction of the ball or the speed of the runner or whatever “foreign force” we want to bring into the argument. 

The law, like all the laws of the game of rugby, addresses the  actions/reactions of the players. In this case it addresses the action (by the player) of throwing the ball foreword or not. In no way and nowhere does it say anything about the flight or the travel, etc, in other words, the reaction of the ball. It simply says that a player must not throw (action by player) the ball forward. It does not say that the ball is not allowed to travel (reaction of the ball) forward in the action (throwing of the ball) by the player. 

May 31, 2019, 15:31

Vlag with two players running absolutely flat out, straight down the field the ball drifted forward almost 2 metres. So how did the Saders pass go forward 2 metres when:

1 The passer was well below full pace.

2 The passer was not running directly up the field

3 The pass only travelled 10 metres.

The problem with the rule is, there is no way to know if the ball is passed forward out of the hands at the margin, by a simple real time visual observation.

To be honest I'm not even sure the ball was passed 'backwards out of the hands' in the video.

May 31, 2019, 16:01

“The problem with the rule is, there is no way to know if the ball is passed forward out of the hands at the margin, by a simple real time visual observation.”

There is. Simple real time visual observation. Sometimes, you have to accept the referee’s discretion. Period. These guys are trained and should not make mistakes. They are human. I have said on many occasions, how many mistakes do players make? Mistakes that are often times the difference between winning and losing.

The only reason why we have these constant complaining is because of technology with constant close ups and slomo reruns, etc. Every little mistake is considered to be a deliberate conspiracy to shaft one of the teams. We should just relax and enjoy the game and get back to the swings and roundabouts philosophy.

May 31, 2019, 19:37

Agree we are making issues of common sense but tmo Jonker erred grossly when he abused assumed authority. He had no authority at all, he was just a check up authority which the on field ref can call up  to verify a certain suspected oversight...certainly out of line but what made it even worse was that he was wrong. It was a breach of duty function and abuse and disrespect for the on field ref. One suspects there is a pecking order in refs decisions and influence...this should not be abused and tolerated.

Marius Jonker should be struck from the roll of RWC refs. He is not fit and proper.

Jun 01, 2019, 00:39

Fair points Vlag, but can one go back to accepting referee's discretion with all the technology on our screens. The close calls will go back to the video ref, who is left judging forward out of the hands, that experts cant even decide after repeated viewings. Remember JdV's pass to Lambie in the 2011 WC.

Your video actually shows the ref was right in the Stormers/Saders match...but he is viewed as some sort of cheat by the NZ press who have no idea how much drift is likely on a 10 metre pass.

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