Tuesday, August 20, 2013

6.10.16 No pack: After a warning, a sustained failure to reform a pack will result in a major penalty. This penalty includes a sustained failure to reform a pack by returning to in bounds from out of bounds. One penalty will be applied to a single skater per team, if applicable, who seems most responsible or the Pivot (see Sections 7.1.4).

Today’s rule is an Out Of Play major penalty. This penalty will never be the first Out Of Play penalty to be given out when there is no pack. Per rule 4.1.2, when the pack is destroyed, both teams are responsible for reforming a legally defined pack. Per rule 6.10.13, when a team fails to make an immediate attempt to reform a pack, they will be issued a penalty. Today’s rule comes after that initial penalty.

When a pack is destroyed, the referees will give a warning that includes a verbal cue of “no pack” and a hand signal. As soon as the warning is given, both teams must immediately attempt to reform the pack. While some say there isn’t a time limit, and others argue that there is, the latter is true. There is a time limit in which both teams must make an attempt to reform the pack. However, it isn’t any number of seconds, as some skaters and even referees will have you believe. The time limit is “immediately”. How so, you may ask? Let’s look at the Glossary definition of “immediately”:

Immediately - The first legal opportunity in which a skater may complete an action.

You may still be asking how that is a time limit. Well, simply put, the time limit is immediate, which, without this Glossary definition, means right away, with no delay whatsoever. However, the WFTDA wrote this definition into the rules in the 2010 version since an attempt made without any delay whatsoever isn’t always possible, without committing a penalty. Therefore, the time limit is right away, unless it is impossible to do legally right away, in which case right away after it has become legal to do so. Yes, this is a sort of convoluted way to look at “immediately”. However, this thought process helps understand how referees enforce this rule, and all related rules. This is the consensus procedure I have heard from many a referee. Pack is destroyed, referee issues “no pack” warning, referee then looks to see if a legal attempt to reform is possible right away, and if not, waits until a legal attempt is possible right away. At that point, once the referee has been able to internally think the question “is an attempt being made right away”, if no such attempt is being made, they will issue a penalty to one or both teams that are failing to immediately attempt to reform the pack. That is how rule 6.10.13 works.

At that point, once the initial penalty has been issued for failure to reform a pack, the referee will then likely call “no pack” again (I say likely because, while this is an incredibly widespread practice, it isn’t universal), followed by another internal questioning of “is an attempt being made right away to reform the pack?” At that point, once they have been able to ask themselves the question, if no such attempt has been made, a major penalty will be given for sustained failure to reform the pack, per today’s rule. As the rule states, this rule will be given to the skater on a team most responsible for the failure to reform the pack. In most cases, it will be given to the skater who is closest to the other team; this means the rearmost skater of the frontmost group, and the frontmost skater of the rearmost group. I say most cases, because it won’t always be that skater. If, during a no pack situation, one of the teams continues to block an opponent without forcing them to lose relative position, but no player on that makes an attempt to reform, then the penalty will go the (or one of the) skater continuing to black while there is no pack. In cases where it is truly unclear which skater is the most responsible on a team, then the penalty will be given to the Pivot, if there is one. If there is no Pivot, a skater on the offending team that is considered to be the most responsible will be given the penalty. If a skater is out of bounds and has the ability to reform the pack by returning in bounds, and their failure to return in bounds is more responsible for the failure to reform the pack than the actions of their teammates, then they will be given the penalty. Unfortunately, there isn’t a black and white answer as to who receives a failure to reform penalty.