coming through the middle

crossref


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We have all seen this:
- ruck, ball has been won by red team
- blue forward pushes vigorously in the ruck, comes straight through the middle and out the red side where he is in the way of red #9
- red believe he is offside and committing an offence as interfering with play
- blue - and I often hear this watching other referees - feel he he is OK as he 'came through the middle'

where's the truth in this ?
 

Dixie


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We have all seen this:
- ruck, ball has been won by red team
- blue forward pushes vigorously in the ruck, comes straight through the middle and out the red side where he is in the way of red #9
- red believe he is offside and committing an offence as interfering with play
- blue - and I often hear this watching other referees - feel he he is OK as he 'came through the middle'

where's the truth in this ?

For me, the bit in red is the key. As long as the rucker remains in the ruck, having driven through the middle, he is legal and entitled to be as much of a nuisance as he can make of himself. However, by emerging from the ruck he renders himself illegal - no longer in the ruck and ahead of the hindmost foot of his own team. He is to be penalised if, by being there, he materially inconveniences the oppo.
 

RobLev

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For me, the bit in red is the key. As long as the rucker remains in the ruck, having driven through the middle, he is legal and entitled to be as much of a nuisance as he can make of himself. However, by emerging from the ruck he renders himself illegal - no longer in the ruck and ahead of the hindmost foot of his own team. He is to be penalised if, by being there, he materially inconveniences the oppo.

So you'd penalise players who "clear-out" opposition players from the ruck to beyond it?
 

Dixie


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So you'd penalise players who "clear-out" opposition players from the ruck to beyond it?
Yes, if by being ahead of the back foot, ahead of the ball and in the way they materially affect the other team's options. Why would you not?
 

RobLev

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Yes, if by being ahead of the back foot, ahead of the ball and in the way they materially affect the other team's options. Why would you not?

Because a ruck is a contest for the ball; and because driving opposition player(s) beyond the ball is an integral part of that contest.
 

Phil E


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For me, the bit in red is the key. As long as the rucker remains in the ruck, having driven through the middle, he is legal and entitled to be as much of a nuisance as he can make of himself. However, by emerging from the ruck he renders himself illegal - no longer in the ruck and ahead of the hindmost foot of his own team. He is to be penalised if, by being there, he materially inconveniences the oppo.

What if he kicks the ball forward as he goes through?

Ruck over?
 

ChrisR

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OP scenario: Ruck, ball on Red side, Blue player drive thru middle of ruck and emerges on Red side.

Ball out of ruck, ruck over, no issue.

Ball still in ruck, Blue unbinds (comes free) on Red side then PK against Blue for offside.

Ball still in ruck, Blue stays bound but drags Red SH into ruck before he has removed the ball then PK against Blue for playing the player without the ball? Not totally sure on this.

Ball still in ruck, Blue stays bound but drags Red SH into ruck after he has removed the ball (ie. has possession and ruck ended) then legit tackle?
 

Dixie


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What if he kicks the ball forward as he goes through?

Ruck over?
Depends if the ball has emerged from the ruck after being kicked. If yes, ruck is over:

[LAWS]16.6: A ruck ends successfully when the ball leaves the ruck,[/LAWS]


OP scenario: Ruck, ball on Red side, Blue player drive thru middle of ruck and emerges on Red side.

Ball out of ruck, ruck over, no issue. Agreed

Ball still in ruck, Blue unbinds (comes free) on Red side then PK against Blue for offside. Only if materially interfering with play. Otherwise, allow him to get back onside

Ball still in ruck, Blue stays bound but drags Red SH into ruck before he has removed the ball then PK against Blue for playing the player without the ball? Not totally sure on this. Spot on

Ball still in ruck, Blue stays bound but drags Red SH into ruck after he has removed the ball (ie. has possession and ruck ended) then legit tackle? Rather complex - depends how he does it, but broadly yes. Clarification 8 of 2006 explains - basically, he can't dive over other players to get to the #9.
 

beckett50


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So you'd penalise players who "clear-out" opposition players from the ruck to beyond it?

No, because they are probably bound on to the opposition players.
 

Blackberry


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Here's the rough and ready system I use which seems to make good sense of the laws.

You can't come through the middle of a ruck unless you stay bound on at all times. "Caught in the ruck" I interpret as being a victim not a protagonist, please accept and excuse the way I have described it. Everyone challenging in a ruck or maul has to be bound. There's more. If the ruck or maul has gone down and the ball is about to be played by the receiver, there is not much chance a player can crash through the middle as he will not be bound. So, once its gone down, individual challengers must be careful.
A useful and empathetic game management technique I use is to ask a player on the verge of offending "Who are you bound onto?". This helps the player instantly grasp what is going on.
 

Ian_Cook


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Here's the rough and ready system I use which seems to make good sense of the laws.

You can't come through the middle of a ruck unless you stay bound on at all times. "Caught in the ruck" I interpret as being a victim not a protagonist, please accept and excuse the way I have described it. Everyone challenging in a ruck or maul has to be bound. (or bound in by other players) There's more. If the ruck or maul has gone down and the ball is about to be played by the receiver, there is not much chance a player can crash through the middle as he will not be bound. So, once its gone down, individual challengers must be careful.
A useful and empathetic game management technique I use is to ask a player on the verge of offending "Who are you bound onto?". This helps the player instantly grasp what is going on.

FTFY. then I agree 100%.

Driving a player off the ball and beyond it is not the same thing as simply going beyond the ball on your own. In the latter case, you are overstepping the hindmost foot and therefore putting yourself offside; in the former, you are pushing the hindmost foot (and therefore, the offside line) back and away from you.

If, for example in a counter-rucking situation, a Blue player drives through the middle of a ruck pushing a Red opponent backwards until it reaches a point where the Blue and Red players are on their feet in contact over the ball, then they are now the ruck, and all the Red former ruckers are now in an offside position.
 

Dickie E


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Driving a player off the ball and beyond it is not the same thing as simply going beyond the ball on your own.

Beware, too, the player who cleans out then continues to grasp/obstruct the player he has cleaned out beyond the boundary of the breakdown.
 

Dickie E


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If the ruck or maul has gone down and the ball is about to be played by the receiver, there is not much chance a player can crash through the middle as he will not be bound. So, once its gone down, individual challengers must be careful.

Once a maul collapses it is either immediately playable or unplayable. No crashing through or individual challengers.
 

Decorily

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OP scenario:


Ball still in ruck, Blue stays bound but drags Red SH into ruck after he has removed the ball (ie. has possession and ruck ended) then legit tackle?

Don't agree......the 9 cannot be played by a player bound into the ruck.
 

Ian_Cook


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Don't agree......the 9 cannot be played by a player bound into the ruck.


Technically: The ruck is over (ball out in SH hands) so whatever the player was bound into is not a ruck

Reality: It gets PK - "you can't play the SH".

So, what is the justification. Is the ex-rucker offside from the previous ruck?
 

crossref


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I think the justification is the appeal to reason : if both teams are allowed to spend all their focus on grabbing the SH at every opportunity we'll just have endless rucks/mauls and pile ups -- let's rather allow a game of rugby to break out!

at the same time the quid pro quo is that SH's need to move fast, if they pick up the ball they don't enjoy a protected two seconds standing at the base of the ruck deciding what to do, during which time no one is allowed to touch them.
 

The Fat


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The most common ruck scenario where this occurs is when all of the players in the ruck go down in a heap and daddy long legs comes "through the middle" and attempts to kick the ball, whether in or out, as he progresses. PK for offside. He is not bound and he is in front of last feet. Loud call of "NO BLUE" or "NO 5 BLUE" will usually do the trick as the red SH clears the ball and the game continues.
 

Thunderhorse1986


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As soon as the scrum half has his hands on the ball and has lifted it off the floor, he is fair game surely?

The tackler needs to be onside prior to that (behind back foot). If he is unbound in the ruck but ahead of the back foot then he would be offside (ahead of the back foot but not part of the ruck as not bound in).

Also worth bearing in mind the players in the prior ruck who may be prone...I don't think you can't dive over the top of the ruck to tackle/grab the 9 (I would deem that dangerous play) and that can sometimes be an issue when "playing the 9".
 

didds

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maybe not allowing players to just flop all over the place would be a strarting point?

Oh...

didds
 

tim White


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You cannot tackle the '9' until the ball is 'clear of the ruck/maul'; Timing is crucial (any similarity to Johnathan Davies is coincidental). Are you playing the '9' as he lifts the ball, or once he is clear of the ruck/maul?
 
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