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This situation occurs when the ball is available on the ground and a player goes to ground to gather the ball, except immediately after a scrum or a ruck.

It also occurs when a player is on the ground in possession of the ball and has not been tackled.

The Game is to be played by players who are on their feet. A player must not make the ball unplayable by falling down. Unplayable means that the ball is not immediately available to either team so that play may continue.

A player who makes the ball unplayable, or who obstructs the opposing team by falling down, is negating the purpose and Spirit of the Game and must be penalised.

A player who is not tackled, but who goes to ground while holding the ball, or a player who goes to ground and gathers the ball, must act immediately.

14.1 Players on the ground


A player with the ball must immediately do one of three things:

  • Get up with the ball
  • Pass the ball
  • Release the ball.

Sanction: Penalty kick


A player who passes or releases the ball must also get up or move away from it at once.

Sanction: Penalty kick


A player without the ball must not lie on, over, or near the ball to prevent opponents getting possession of it.

Sanction: Penalty kick


A player on the ground must not tackle or attempt to tackle an opponent.

Sanction: Penalty kick

14.2 Players on their feet
Falling over the player on the ground with the ball. A player must not intentionally fall on or over a player with the ball who is lying on the ground.

Sanction: Penalty kick12

Falling over players lying on the ground near the ball. A player must not intentionally fall on or over players lying on the ground with the ball between them or near them.

Sanction: Penalty kick