We asked the Secret Ref – and you – for views
It was a standout moment in a frenetic 52-21 win for the Barbarians against England– a George Kruis back-heel conversion to end his playing career in spectacular fashion. It was pure fun, in a match that had so many storylines and its fair share of action already.
In the laws of the game it is stated that a kick is: “An act made by intentionally hitting the ball with any part of the leg or foot, except the heel, from the toe to the knee but not including the knee. A kick must move the ball a visible distance out of the hand or along the ground.”
Which would mean Kruis’s nudge is illegal.
And as our own Secret Ref tells us: “Back-heeling conversions was outlawed about 20 years ago because Mark Ring did it in one game and it was really taking the p***. So World Rugby (then the IRB) outlawed it and they’ve not been allowed to do it for a long time. So that’s the origin story behind it.
“Basically my issue is, if we do in the spirit of Barbarians rugby and let this go, there’s kids and various lower-league rugby players watching the game. They could then decide to back-heel a conversion and what happens when that referee then disallows it?
“It’s just not great. Referees on TV are supposed to set examples for the rest of the game, on putting structure into it and refereeing consistently and, you know, I’m all for the Baa-Baas spirit and letting 50-50 forward passes go and things like that. Absolutely. But some very precise and technical bits of law just have to be refereed. Otherwise it’s pandemonium. You can’t just opt out of law because it suits you.”
So the Secret Ref it opens up the question – should we let things slide a little bit more with the Baa-Baas in town, or should all games meet the same rigorous standards, especially if it’s a televised match involving one of the biggest brands in the sport?
Of course, the third option is that the match officials simply didn’t know…
You can let us know what you think via firstname.lastname@example.org or on our social media channels.
Download the digital edition of Rugby World straight to your tablet or subscribe to the print edition to get the magazine delivered to your door.
Follow Rugby World on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.