Controversy corner

Controversy corner - where controversial rugby incidents are examined in detail by an expert panel of one - me! My view of things that have annoyed other people.

2013-12-01 Wales v Australia

An incident occurred in this match that had many people fuming. Articles were written, statements were made, forum threads got ever longer.

The basic problem concerned a particular pass - was it forward or not?

At the time, Australia were leading, but not by much.

The player who caught the controversial pass was winger Joe Tomane. He then went on to score a try, putting Australia further ahead.

Many people claim the pass was forward - a pass or throw forward which is not allowed in rugby.

The Law (11) states that a throw forward occurs when a player 'throws or passes the ball forward'

It does not state that the ball may not travel forwards. This video explains the difference.

Before the Australian pass

Positioning for the Australian pass Folau about to pass

In the image above Folau (circled in white) is about to pass to winger Joe Tomane who is clearly behind Folau.

Folau passes

The pass is made Folau passes

Folau is running towards the Welsh goal line. He is almost on the 5 metre line when, in the same moment, he passes the ball and is tackled from behind.

Tomane catches the pass

The pass is reeived Tomane catches the pass

Winger Tomane, clearly past the 5 metre line, stoops to make a brilliant catch.

This means that the ball was released on or slightly before the 5 metre line and caught by the winger after the ball has crossed the 5 metre line.

Clearly the ball has travelled forward.

After reviewing video of the incident referee Barnes ruled that although the ball travelled forward, it was not thrown forward. I agree with him.

If Folau had not been stopped in his tracks by the tackle he would have been well in front of Tomane when Tomane received the ball.

This would have given the impression that the ball had gone backwards. There would have been no complaints!

Welsh forward pass?

In the opening minutes of the game there was another questionable pass.

It was a very similar situation but there was no uproar. Nobody asked any questions!


Scott Williams kept running after he passed and was in front of the winger George North when North received the pass.

This created the illusion that the ball travelled backwards.

The truth is that the ball travelled forwards just as it did when Folau made his pass!

Scott Williams passes

Welsh player passes Scott Williams passes

Williams is on the 22 metre line when he releases his pass.

George North receives the pass

Welsh player receives pass George North receives pass

When winger North receives the pass he is clearly ahead of where the pass was released.

Is it a forward pass? NO!

Despite the fact that the ball travelled forwards the pass was not a 'pass forward' and play was correctly allowed to continue.

I believe the decisions by referee Wayne Barnes were consistent in these two incidents and correct as defined by the Laws of the game.

Read about the controversy in this newpaper article.

Image credits: Screen grabs from Channel 10 coverage of the game.

Greatest forward pass of all?

A fabulous try was scored by the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973

Many say the final pass was forward. What do you thinK?

Obstruction or not ?

England played Australia on November 2nd 2013. In that game Owen Farrell scored a questionable try. Was it obstruction or not?