Offside in-goal

Bungle


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Two parts to this conundrum. It happened last week in a BUSA game down at Barts. They have a huge in-goal area (prob 20m deep) which creates its own challenges. Anyway,


Red defending. Red SH 2m from goal-line passes back to Red kicker who was standing very deep in-goal. He kicks ahead, ball is a long time in the air and it is not clear if it heading into touch and is just about going to land in the field of play. Blue winger moves up and is close enough to be defined as ‘waiting to play the ball’. Red SH moves towards him and the ball, I shout ‘wait’ and also note that the red kicker hasn’t bothered to come up. Instinct tells me ‘offside’. Ball then lands about 2m infront of Blue winger right on the touch line, bobbles around, doesn’t touch any player and then goes into touch just on the wrong side of the flag so it was touch in-goal.

By this time I had called advantage for offside infront of the kicker as Red SH hadn’t stopped, I knew the relevant law stated players must not move towards the place where the ball lands until put onside and there was a probably chance that it would have been played by the blue winger. I award penalty on 5m where Red SH was moving towards ball with scrum option 5m level with where the kicker kicked.

I was challenged (graciously at the end I must add – both perfect teams discipline wise) on two counts:

1. Can you be off-side infront of the kicker if the kick is from in-goal?

2. As the ball went into touch in-goal, wouldn’t it have been better to have waited before calling offside then offered a scrum 5m at the point where the ball was played into the in-goal.

I should add that for no 2 I had already pinged Blue twice for offside infront of the kicker…

I’ll tell you what I said and why, but first I would love to hear your views as this was one of those wonderfully quirky situations that I love as a referee. Suffice it to say, players, the coach and myself had a good debate about it in great spirit.
 

Pablo


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In short, YES, you can be offside in in-goal. Any player is offside if he/she is in front of a team mate who last played the ball - Law 11 definitions. There are no exemptions in either Law 11 or Law 22 stating that this does not apply to the in-goal area.

Confusion arises because of what happens to the offside lines of a scrum, ruck or maul which is pushed into in-goal. If the hindmost foot of the hindmost player in any of these phases is behind the goal line, then the offside line for his/her team is the goal line itself (see, respectively, 20.12g, 16.5a and 17.4a). Under these circumstances therefore, a player who is in in-goal cannot be offside because he/she must be behind the goal line, which is the defending team's offside line.

None of these circumstances apply to the situation you describe - it is open play. Therefore your decision to penalise Red SH for the material offence of moving toward the ball while in an offside position was both correct and justifiable in Law.

Well done!:clap:
 

OB..


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1. Can you be off-side infront of the kicker if the kick is from in-goal?
Yes.
Law 11.1 (a) [...] A player can be offside in the in-goal"
Law 11.1 (c) "When a team mate of an offside player has kicked ahead, the offside player must not move towards opponents who are waiting to play the ball, or move towards the place where the ball lands, until the player has been put onside."

Sanction associated with it (at end of 11.4 (f) ) "When a player is penalised for being offside in general play, the opposing team chooses either a penalty kick at the place of infringement or a scrum at the place where the offending team last played the ball. If it was last played in that team’s in-goal, the scrum is formed 5 metres from the goal line in line with where it was played." [my emphasis]


2. As the ball went into touch in-goal, wouldn’t it have been better to have waited before calling offside then offered a scrum 5m at the point where the ball was played into the in-goal.
You were playing advantage for the offside offence. When the ball went into touch-in-goal, Blue had gained no advantage, so you come back to the penalty/scrum choice.
 
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PaulDG


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Confusion arises because of what happens to the offside lines of a scrum, ruck or maul which is pushed into in-goal. If the hindmost foot of the hindmost player in any of these phases is behind the goal line, then the offside line for his/her team is the goal line itself (see, respectively, 20.12g, 16.5a and 17.4a). Under these circumstances therefore, a player who is in in-goal cannot be offside because he/she must be behind the goal line, which is the defending team's offside line.

The offside lines of a scrum/ruck/maul don't actually change, they vanish. The scrum or ruck or maul are only defined for the "field of play" - so when the ball crosses the goal line, the scrum/ruck or maul ceases to exist so all of the Laws applying to those phases of play no longer apply. (22.6)

Also I don't believe the goal line is the offside line for the defending team - as far as I can see without the scrum, ruck, maul or tackle, what's left must be Open Play.
 

Pablo


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Paul - the scrum, ruck or maul only ceases to exist when the ball crosses the goal line. That could be some considerable time after the hindmost foot of the hindmost player crossing the goal line.

While the ball remains in the field of play and the hindmost foot of the hindmost player is over the goal line, the scrum/ruck/maul persists, but the defending offside line is now the goal line.
 

PaulDG


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Paul - the scrum, ruck or maul only ceases to exist when the ball crosses the goal line. That could be some considerable time after the hindmost foot of the hindmost player crossing the goal line.

While the ball remains in the field of play and the hindmost foot of the hindmost player is over the goal line, the scrum/ruck/maul persists, but the defending offside line is now the goal line.

Right. See what you mean.
 

OB..


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Also I don't believe the goal line is the offside line for the defending team - as far as I can see without the scrum, ruck, maul or tackle, what's left must be Open Play.
Tackle: there is no offside line.

Ruck, maul: in both cases the law says "If the hindmost foot of the hindmost player is on or behind the goal line, the offside line for the defending team is the goal line." (16.5 (a) and 17.4 (a) )

Scrum: detailed definition for scrum halves, but none at all for those others outside the scrum. The diagram shows an offside line, but the goal line is not mentioned. However all top referees behave as if the situation is the same as for ruck and mauls.

This means that if a 5m scrum is pushed back so that the defending #8's feet are well into in-goal, the ball still being in the other team's scrum, the goal line is now the offside line. The scrum is not over until the ball reaches the goal line.
 

Dixie


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Scrum: detailed definition for scrum halves, but none at all for those others outside the scrum. The diagram shows an offside line, but the goal line is not mentioned. However all top referees behave as if the situation is the same as for ruck and mauls.

This means that if a 5m scrum is pushed back so that the defending #8's feet are well into in-goal, the ball still being in the other team's scrum, the goal line is now the offside line. The scrum is not over until the ball reaches the goal line.

This view is supported by the outcome of Ruling 7 of 2005, though the rationale is bizarre and either unhelpful or just plain wrong! It seems worrying that the designated members who decide these things don't know where the scrum half offside line is at a scrum!

The ARU has requested a ruling with regard Law 20.12-Off side at the scrum. One of the changes that were made to the 2005 Laws of the Game was the deletion of the definition (in the box) under Law 20.12. The reason provided for this was that the provisions of the definition were covered elsewhere in the Laws. This now appears to be the case, with one exception. The definition in part provided that: "If the hindmost foot of a team is on or behind that team's goal-line, the off-side line is the goal-line."

Can you please clarify that it was the intention to remove this provision from the Law (thus changing the offside line in this situation) or was this an oversight?

The Designated Members have ruled the following in answer to the questions raised:

Law 22.6 indicates that a scrum can only take place in the field of play, and also covers the scrum moving across the goal-line and, that a defending player may legally ground the ball as soon as the ball reaches the goal-line.

In conjunction with the above statement, the scrum half is also a defending player and therefore can legally ground the ball. The off-side line must be the goal-line in the above situation otherwise the scrum half would not be able to physically get to the ball to ground it.
 

Davet

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Translation - actually, guys, we did cock up a bit; but with a bit of creative use of other bits of Law we can wriggle out of it without admitting so.
 

Dickie E


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Bungle, given the proximity of the offence to the goal line a PT may also be a potential outcome (I expect more likely if Blue had actually caught the ball).
 

Bungle


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Thanks guys. It is reassuring that I got it right according to my peers. It was the 'ruck, maul, scrum' offside confusion that caused the most debate as they did correctly identify that the offside line for those phases ends on the goaline as that particular phase of play cannot occur in the in-goal. However, as I adamantly explained, what happened in this situation was mere open play where Law 11.1 applies.

Dickie - if Blue had caught the ball and the advancing red player had prevented a try being scored I would have awarded a penalty try. Instinct would have kicked in. I would have looked a right idiot awarding a PT and a second later seeing the ball go into touch without blue having played it. I'm glad I don't act in haste!
 
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