Offside in front of the kicker, within 10m of catcher?


Rugby Club Member
Mar 10, 2020
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Another clip from the last month, this time from the Toulon v Saracens semi-final.

Toulon fly half is behind his teammates and chips ahead, a Saracens player gathers the ball and is tackled by the Toulon fly-half. It all seems innocuous at this point since Sarries gathered the kick and play continued, but they then give away a penalty at the next tackle, which Toulon score from.

However, check the video from 36 seconds and you can see Etzebeth ahead of the kicker with his arm up... he does not retreat at all after the ball is kicked, moves to the side a bit, he is positioned within 3m of the ball at all times after it lands, and is the first Toulon player over the tackle.

Law 10.4
An offside player may be penalised, if that player:
  • a, Interferes with play; or
  • b, Moves forwards towards the ball; or
  • c, Was in front of a team-mate who kicked the ball and fails to retire immediately behind an onside team-mate or an imaginary line across the field 10 metres on that player’s side from where the ball is caught or lands, even if it hits a goal post or crossbar first. If this involves more than one player, then the player closest to where the ball lands or is caught is the one penalised. This is known as the 10-metre law and still applies if the ball touches or is played by an opponent but not when the kick is charged down.

Should Etzebeth have been penalised under law 10.4.b or 10.4.c? His immediate actions appear to not significantly impact play, however, a penalty to Saracens for offside would have avoided the subsequent penalty awarded to Toulon, which I think they scored a try from, and may have swung the game (though I think Toulon were the better side that day and deserved to win)?




Referees in England
Oct 8, 2011
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Yes should be penalised, offside kills the game and is continually allowed to kill the game. Counter attacking options are reduced as the field is full of players that are loitering. Ping firmer and consistently to give attacking players a little more space.

He's even pointing to his team mates and running forward so 10.4.b first:cautious: