John Lacey – breakdown interpretation (Scarlets-Treviso)

This was a poor game of rugby. The sort of Friday night fixture that makes you wish you had agreed to watch a Coronation Street – Eastenders double header rather than 80 minutes of Pro12 dross.

The two teams looked disinterested and the game was littered with errors but the referee, John Lacey, really didn’t help matters with his “interpretation” of the breakdown, which will  be the focus of this article.

In a week when there have been a number of discussions about the paucity of quality rugby in the 6 Nations we were given a reminder by John Lacey why the northern hemisphere struggles to match the pace and intensity of the game down south.

Lacey greatly favours the defending team at the tackle area, to the point where any attacking move was scuppered by the jackaling player flopping over the ball on his hands, elbows and sometimes shoulders in order to steal or slow the ball down. It is no wonder that the game had no pace or rhythm.

Here are some examples:

(1) Scarlets attack. The Treviso player is not supporting his body weight. Lacey did not penalise this and play was allowed to carry on.

Scarlets 1.jpg


(2) Treviso make a clean break and the Scarlets make a last ditch tackle under their posts. The first defender, Steffan Evans is not supporting his body weight. This should have been a penalty and a yellow card but Lacey allowed play to continue.

scarlets 2 off feet.jpg


(3) Treviso have the ball and James Davies has his nose nearly on the floor as he attempts the jackal. This was given as a penalty to the Scarlets for holding on.

scarlets 3.jpg


(4) As the Scarlets attack it is the Treviso number 8 who comes off his. Lacey gave this as a penalty given to Treviso.

scarlets 4.jpg


(5) The Scarlets make a clean break to 5m from Treviso line. The Treviso tackler positions his body to slow the release as he falls on the wrong side.  This was not penalised but should have been a yellow card and a penalty.

scarlets 5.jpg


(6) The Scarlets take the ball in to midfield and Treviso come off their feet to kill the ball. You can see the right leg and knee of the defender resting on the Scarlets player on the floor. Lacey is in a good position to see what is going on but gives Treviso the penalty.



(7) Treviso on attack and it’s James Davies who again goes over the ball off his feet and Lacey awards him the penalty.

scarlets 7.jpg


(8) With about 10 minutes to go the Scarlets attack Treviso 5m out and two Treviso players are off their feet to slow the ball. Lacey finally gets it right and penalises the two players but inexplicably misses a clear obstruction in the build up. Again, he is well positioned to see the offence but ignored it.

scarlets 8.jpg


If you have a few spare minutes today, try and see if you can get yourself in to any of these jackaling body positions – and still support your own body weight. It’s impossible.

You may want to try these with another consenting adult to make it more fun.


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