The Auckland vs Otago Mitre 10 Cup match the other night ended on an unusual note when Auckland was awarded a penalty try after an Otago player batted the ball league-style over the dead ball line to prevent an Auckland player in close proximity from scoring.

Why he chose to hit the ball over the dead ball line with his hand when he could have simply kicked it over, or caught it and grounded the ball, I don't know.

Maybe he reacted badly to the pressure situation he found himself in, or maybe he just didn't know the rules.

Fortunately for Otago, they were more than the seven points, which a penalty try automatically generates, ahead on the scoreboard so his actions didn't cost his team the match.

Advertisement

He would have been very uncomfortable in the changing room if it had cost the team.

If his actions had occurred earlier in the game, there would have been a sanction applied for the offence, in addition to the opposition receiving the seven points.

Play would have restarted with a penalty kick to Auckland on the halfway line, as that would be where play would have restarted after the penalty try.

The player would probably have been sinbinned as well, so in a way he and Otago got off lightly on this occasion - they still won the match and he may have escaped a yellow card.

While the ball is in play, penalty kicks for foul play are usually awarded at the place of infringement.

In addition to awarding the penalty kick, a referee must either admonish (aka give a good telling-off), caution and temporarily suspend (sin-bin), or send off the offender.

But there are quite a few occasions where penalty kicks for foul play are awarded in a different place to where the offence takes place.

Starting with the simplest one first, no penalty kick can now be awarded within 5m of the goal line.

If an offence is committed by either team within 5m of the goal line, or within the in-goal area itself, the place for the penalty kick is 5m from the goal line - lined up with where the offence occurred.

So, if a penalty offence is committed in the in-goal area by the attacking team, the defenders get at least 5m free territory to start with, more if it occurred near the dead ball line.

If an offence is committed outside the playing area while the ball is still in play, the penalty kick would be awarded to the non-offenders, 15m in from the touch line, lined up with where the offence occurred.

If a team commits any foul play while the ball is out of play, then the place for the penalty kick is at where play would have re-started.

If that place was on the touchline for a lineout, the place for the kick would be on the 15m line, opposite where the offence occurred.

Should play re-start with a scrum, then the kick would be taken same place, which cannot be less than 5m from the touch line.

But if play was to restart with a drop-out kick, the penalty kick can be taken anywhere on the 22m line.

If a team is guilty of foul play after a penalty kick is awarded, then the mark for the kick is advanced 10m.

In addition, the player responsible would be cautioned, sin-binned or sent off if that is warranted.

One of the more complicated scenarios is when a kicker is late-charged by an opponent after he has kicked the ball.

In this situation, the non-offending team get to choose whether to take the kick at the place of the charge, or where the ball lands or is next played.

If the late charge occurs inside the kicker's in-goal area and they choose to take the kick at the place of infringement, then the kick is taken 5m from the goal-line, but not less than 15m in from touch, lined up with the infringement spot.

The non-offending team usually choose to take the kick where the ball lands or is next played.

If that place is in touch, or within 15m of the touch line, the place for the kick is on the 15m line, lined up with where the ball landed or next played.

But if the ball lands in in-goal, in touch-in-goal, on or over the dead-ball line, the mark for the penalty kick is 5m from the goal-line, but not less than 15m from touch, lined up with where the ball crossed the goal-line.

But wait, there is more.

If the ball strikes a goal post or cross bar, then the place for the penalty kick is where the ball lands on the ground.

I don't think I have ever seen that scenario, but the law book has to cover all eventualities.

Remember, the non-offending team in these late charges on the kicker always have the three options to place the penalty kick - where the offence occurred, where the ball lands, or where it is next played.

Referees usually have to spell these options out to non-offending captains, if they can remember all the possibilities.

It seems to me, and probably you too, that all this seems incredibly complicated.

Wouldn't it be simpler if the penalty kick was simply awarded where the offence took place, like in most other sports like soccer and hockey.

I'll bet their rule books aren't over 200 pages long, with multiple options for almost every scenario.