Hey Ref! An ‘Official’ Q&A

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In the Men’s World Team Championship semifinals this summer, controversy brewed when France’s Gregory Gaultier appeared to suffer an injury, but having already used an injury break for the “same injury,” the referee initially declared England the match winner…but then reversed the decision when Gaultier jumped to his feet seemingly ready to play on.

By Barry Faguy

Having dealt originally with just about all the all key principles of decision making in treatise form, we carry on by zeroing in on specific questions we’re received over time.

HEY REF! I saw a big fuss in a video of a match at the Men’s World Team event in France recently, where there seemed to be much confusion when an injury occurred. What am I supposed to do as a ref when that happens?
The first thing is to make sure that you’re dealing with a genuine injury. Usually this means that you need to have seen some obvious cause, like contact, collision, or a fall. Going onto the court to check it out is reasonable, but some jurisdictions would advise you (for legal reasons) against actively participating (like touching the player). Then, if you don’t buy it (suspecting fakery to gain time), you must say so—and then tell the player to continue or forfeit the game. The same applies if you determine that you are dealing with something other than injury—a category including cramps, asthma, fatigue, etc. However, if you decide that indeed, a genuine injury has occurred, you then announce, for all to hear, the category (self-inflicted, contributed, or opponent-inflicted), and state the allowed time, if any. If bleeding is involved, the player is generally allowed what- ever time is needed to get it stopped and covered; only then would you declare any injury category. There is of course, no limit to the number of times a player may be injured, so long as they are all different injuries.

HEY REF! Are the rules for turning and further attempts the same?
Almost! Generally, if there is interference to the striker’s ‘access’ or ‘swing’ during turning or during further-attempting, a let is played. It’s the same decision for interference to the travel of the ball to the front wall in cases where the striker has refrained from hitting the ball after having turned or made a further attempt. However, the decisions for this latter kind of interference (travel of the ball) become different when the striker doesn’t refrain: a) if the opponent is hit during a further attempt situation, a let is played; b) if the opponent is hit during a turning situation, it’s a stroke to the non-striker—no matter where the ball was going. (Hey, don’t look at me; I didn’t write that one!)

HEY REF! Is it true that if you are hit by the ball that is coming from the front wall, you always lose the rally?
That’s pretty much correct—but for a couple of rare exceptions. In terms of the non-striker, a stroke against is typically awarded when their own mis-hit ball comes back to hit them (they immediately be- come the non-striker once the ball has hit the front wall). The exception (a let) applies if that player was hit because of being trapped in place by the opponent—and would otherwise have been able to avoid being hit. Still dealing with the non-striker, another exception exists when they are hit while standing behind the striker who has first swung at the ball and missed (including a fake). (Of course, in this latter case, the striker must have been able to recover & return the ball.) In terms of the striker, a let applies if that player was hit because of being trapped in place by the opponent—but would otherwise have been able to avoid being hit.

HEY REF! If my opponent leaves the court for some reason, can I leave too?
During a game, players may not leave the court without permission of the Referee. If the issue is a change of equipment, only the relevant player may leave the court—because to allow the opponent to leave as well would needlessly open the opportunity for abuse. Remember that, even though a maximum of ninety seconds is allowed for that particular is- sue, the player must make that change as quickly as possible to keep the game continuous. It is unfair for the player who is changing equipment to delay things by drinking water, towelling off, etc. For longer interruptions (bleeding, injuries), although not specifically addressed in the rules, it would be un- reasonable to force the opponent to stay on court. In such cases, permission to leave is taken for granted. In fact, should the injured player wish to resume play prior to the allotted time, the rules require that the opponent be given adequate notice to prepare to resume play.