I've done it.....LAW 16 open discussion (In reference to the 6 Nations game).
Level 2 Match Official
There are plenty of people left scratching their heads and flipping through their Law books after the recent "ingenious" loophole that the Italian team "found" this past weekend in regards to the ruck.
I believe there are a few things to take note of before opening this discussion.
1. This is not a new tactic and, furthermore, I personally have seen this at every level of the game, from International right down to club rugby.
2. Alongside the laws governing a ruck are the ones in regard to the tackle and how players must attack the ball when around the tackle area.
3. Also within the laws concerning the tackle situation - what the tackler must do after a tackle has taken place.
During a match, a referee controls a game. We see this clearly when Mr Nigel Owens takes the pitch. There is constant communication between the referee and players. This lack of communication is what led to the chaos of this game, not only for players but also for the referee himself. This was shown in a few instances where Mr Poite changed his decision on whether a ruck had taken place or not. Adding to the confusion, I believe the tackle laws were not effectively managed. Specifically, I am referring firstly to Law 15.4 - the tackler and Secondly, Law 15.6 Other Players. Both of which take place before a ruck (and also in the Law book). Here is an example of a well managed "no ruck" situation.
As I mentioned, this is not a new tactic and while we never expected this during an international match, it happened and at the end of the day, it is in the law book. In my opinion, there is no need to review Law 16 as there were other contributing factors that led to the chaos of this game and other Laws that dictate the entire tackle scenario and looking at Law 16 in isolation, would be no different than looking at any other law or rule from any sport without reference to the entire game.
I'm open to other opinions and thoughts and decided, as Rucks are a massive part of why we all Play/Ref/watch Rugby union, to open this discussion.
I think a final major point here is when a tackler, remains on his feet and subsequently gets cleaned out, then a ruck has taken place. When a ruck has ended is another question, because we all know at most levels below internationals, scrum half's do not have the luxury of being able to hold the ball at the back of a collapsed/clearly won ruck, in daylight, without being swarmed by defenders.