Players being tackled whilst in the air has become one of the big taboos in the modern game, and rightly so in certain circumstances. My question is on a situation out of the norm.
Anyone who watched the England v Wales match this season will have applauded Sam Underhill's superb try saving tackle on Scott Williams. If you didn't see it, Williams dived early and tried to slide for the try line in the corner, and Underhill grabbed him and rolled him into touch. What if Williams had dived for the corner but had stayed up in the air? If Underhill had tackled him then and got him into touch, would it have been a penalty try and a yellow card?
You are correct that the law says you cannot tackle a player in the air. Specifically it says:
17. A player must not tackle, charge, pull, push or grasp an opponent whose feet are off the ground.However we have to careful taking the law literally. When a player is running there are times when both feet are off the floor, but that does not mean you cannot tackle a running player, so a little common sense has to come into play.
In your example, providing the tackle wasn't dangerous it would be allowed, otherwise the game would be unplayable. Dangerous might involve no arms in the tackle.
I think we all know what the law means? You cannot tackle a player who is jumping for a ball, or who has been lifted for the ball and has not returned to the ground. That player is in a vulnerable position and safety dictates we must protect them.
Good question though John.
The Rugby Ref