Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ask Ray O'Connor...week three

If you have a query for Ray about any umpiring situation, email me at This week, one of the world's top umpires explains the decision-making process concerning when a plyer tries to play the ball on the ground.

The query
"Are players aloud to play the ball when they are on the ground? Are there separate instances when this is and isn't allowed? I was at a game last weekend where a player took a shot, it was saved and came back to her when she was lying on the ground but she managed to get a shot off even under pressure from another player. I thought it was good skill but umpire blew it for being dangerous."

Ray's response:
This is always an interesting question. As with all my answers, I like to mention the first priority of umpiring, that is safety of the players. Please forgive me if I seem boring on this point every time.

As I read the question it is related to two points:
1. Playing the ball while lying on the ground.
2. Competing for the ball while lying on the ground.

Playing the ball while lying on the ground can be very exciting to watch, I am sure we have all seen great goals scored in this way. We have also seen great tackles made while sliding along the ground, so we must be very careful not to discourage these. We have also seen tackles made while sliding along the ground that goes wrong and this can be very dangerous and must be dealt with.
1. A player can play the ball while lying on the ground.
· The one element in this is tackling. If a player decided to make a sliding tackle, this is not a problem provided they do not in any way make contact with another player.
o This is very dangerous and should be dealt with very strictly by the umpire.
· A second point is if the sliding player makes contact between the ball and their body this should also be dealt with very strictly by the umpire.

2. A player “cannot” be lying on the ground and be competing for the ball at the same time. (A goalkeeper is excluded from this answer, I am happy to deal with Goalkeepers at another time)
· This is dangerous to themselves, the Umpire must protect the player from danger even if the danger is to themselves.
· It can also be a distinct advantage for one person to compete when lying on the ground.
o The alternative to this, is to allow all players to be on the ground in competition for the ball, and we know where that might end up.

* People have mentioned to me about last week’s question that I was not very clear in my answer. I am glad to say it had the desired effect in so far as to get dialog from both sides. I have now put more clarity around my answer, which I hope has helped.


Anonymous said...

i think what has to be taken from Ray's answers every week is that a lot of umpiring is based on judgement and opinion. the rules in many cases are guides. as players we have to be more understanding of umpires and what they see and learn to play within every umpires limits. the only thing expected from umpires is that old word; consistency.

Anonymous said...

Just on consistency...Probably a question in it's own right I realise, but...

What happens if...ball is played along ground inside circle by defender and the umpire who is inside the circle sees nothing wrong. Eventually ball is cleared up the pitch to the defenders own player leading to a counter attack...

Meanwhile....the umpire who is at the other end thinks that the prior ball played along ground was dangerous play (because he blew for a similar foul in his own circle maybe) and is signaling for a PC to the other umpire (who hasn't made eye contact yet)...

How long does he keep signaling to the other umpire for?

Does he just forget it and follow the counter attack play?

This is not just specific to ball along ground, it could be for any free that other umpire doesnt notice in his own circle.


Anonymous said...

I'd also like to see more communication between umpires and players. Just look at rugby.

The leinster branch umpires dont explain there desicions enough which results in abuse to the umpire, which then results in a card.

Anonymous said...

to 4.26pm...the other umpire shouldnt signal unless it is looked get the hell out of ther and keep up with the play...dont stand with your arms up you will look silly

Anonymous said...

re 6.55.....the other umpire should signal. If the umpire only glances up he may not have time to wait for a signal, he would immediately see a signal if the arms are already in the air. He may only have time for a glance as he is trying to keep up with play, as you have requested!! Can the other umpire not signal AND watch play??

Anonymous said...

a ref gave a short corner against me for playing ball on ground in the 25. myself and opponent were chasing ball shoulder to shoulder (she was on my right hand side) i gained some ground on her, dived and reverse stick clearance over side line. Short corner. i didnt touch her and was only properly on the ground when the ball was cleared. (so basically was falling as i cleared the ball) what was wrong with that?

Anonymous said...

Everthing is open to the individual umpires interpretation. So with 22 players 5 subs and anothe umpire we have a lot on interpretations.

In last weeks match a player running along their own 23 with an opponent behind and on the left side, not in a ball playing position. Played a cross field aerial and got a free given against him and an alleged top umpire stated to the player that aerials cannot be used if a player is within 5 metres.

Now it nearly caused an international player to have a fit the crowd had did react but a fellow umpire in the crowd backed the umpire up.

This week the umpire who backed the match umpire last week, lectured a player who heard hidssupport for questioning his decision to let an aerial be used when he was within 5 metres.

Consisancy is the problem, week in week out