Why Cian Healy’s Near Try Against France Demonstrated Excellent Knowledge Of The Game


Ireland loosehead prop Cian Healy almost got himself a rare ‘meat pie’ against France in the Six Nations on Sunday thanks to some clever understanding of the laws of the game.

With France looking to clear their lines through scrumhalf Antoine Dupont, Healy sniped in and good his fingertips on the ball only to agonisingly knock it forward, ruling out any possibility of a try.

But was he within his rights to make a move for the ball? At first you’d think no, because while Dupont has his hands on the ball, we know now that the ball must be lifted before it is officially out – something that has been clarified by officials in recent months after some confusion. But things are a little more complicated because of where France are on the pitch.

Under Law 15.18, World Rugby’s law book states that ”the ruck ends and play continues when the ball leaves the ruck or when the ball in the ruck is on or over the goal line.”

So as you can see in the clip below – the ball is on the goal line, so it’s now become fair game for Healy to make an attempt at the ball because the ruck has finished and it is now open play. This is why referee Ben O’Keefe checks with his TMO because had Healy got downward pressure and not knocked on – it would have been a try.

Interestingly if you look carefully, Conor Murray also makes an attempt for the ball and was perhaps in a better position to get his hands to it and score a try before Healy interfered.

Murray is another man who has studied the law book to a great extent – especially those applicable to rucks his his position as scrumhalf. You might remember he scored a very clever try in somewhat similar circumstances against Toulon in the Champions Cup last year, where the ball slips out of the ruck before being rolled back in allowing him to snipe.

Funny how once again this was against French opposition. Someone seriously needs to sit down with their halfback and show them a law book and tell them to be a little better at protecting the ball at ruck time.

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