TheYellowCap.com
Don't Miss

Referee Caught Offside?

Another weekend of 6 Nations and another incident that calls for better officiating of the rules. The decision I am referring to in the title is the Gareth Davies try early in the Wales vs Scotland game. The controversy is around whether he played the ball from an offside position, so let’s unpack the movement from the time he passes the ball from the base of the ruck.

Davies passed the ball to Biggar who kicked…once a player kicks; we look at Law 11 regarding Offside and Onside in General Play.

Davies2

Law 11.1 OFFSIDE IN GENERAL PLAY

“(a) A player who is in an offside position is liable to sanction only if the player does one of three things:

  • Interferes with play or,
  • Moves forward, towards the ball or
  • Fails to comply with the 10-Metre Law (Law 11.4).

A player who is in an offside position is not automatically penalised.

A player who receives an unintentional throw forward is not offside.

A player can be offside in the in-goal.”

The first point to consider is that Davies certainly was in an offside position when Biggar kicked. However, he is only liable to be penalised should he perform one of the 3 actions quoted in the Law above. I think it is clear for all to see that while he might not have directly interfered with play, he was certainly moving towards the ball. At this point we don’t have to look further at the Law Book at all, because he transgressed and should be penalised.

It would then appear that the Match Officials on the day either did not see it, or simply got it wrong. What concerns me is that the TMO looked at the incident, and either failed to spot it or ignored it. I know the TMO, Graham Hughes, wonderful chap and very knowledgeable, but he certainly got this one wrong!

Davies3

For the sake of clarity, let’s look at the rest of the offside law pertaining to kicks in general play to educate ourselves. If a player finds himself in an offside position, he can be made offside by his own actions, or those of his opponents.

11.2 BEING PUT ONSIDE BY THE ACTION OF A TEAM-MATE

In general play, there are three ways by which an offside player can be put onside by actions of that player or of team mates:

(a) Action by the player. When the offside player runs behind the team-mate who last kicked, touched or carried the ball, the player is put onside.

(b) Action by the ball carrier. When a team-mate carrying the ball runs in front of the offside player, that player is put onside.

(c) Action by the kicker or other onside player. When the kicker, or team-mate who was level with or behind the kicker when (or after) the ball was kicked, runs in front of the offside player, the player is put onside. When running forward, the team-mate may be in touch or touch-in-goal, but that team-mate must return to the playing area to put the player onside.

11.3 BEING PUT ONSIDE BY OPPONENTS

In general play, there are three ways by which an offside player can be put onside by an action of the opposing team. These three ways do not apply to a player who is offside under the 10-Metre Law.

(a) Runs 5 metres with ball. When an opponent carrying the ball runs 5 metres, the offside

player is put onside.

(b) Kicks or passes. When an opponent kicks or passes the ball, the offside player is put

onside.

(c) Intentionally touches ball. When an opponent intentionally touches the ball but does not

catch it, the offside player is put onside.

You could now argue that Davies was put onside once Roberts came past him, but your problem would still be that instead of retiring or at the very least standing still after the kick, he went towards the ball, meaning that he stayed offside. You could also argue that, if you thought the Scottish player touched the ball in the air, he was put onside, but then he would still have been offside under the 10 metre law.

11.4 OFFSIDE UNDER THE 10-METRE LAW

“(a) When a team-mate of an offside player has kicked ahead, the offside player is considered to be taking part in the game if the player is in front of an imaginary line across the field which is 10 metres from the opponent waiting to play the ball, or from where the ball lands or may land. The offside player must immediately move behind the imaginary 10-metre line or the kicker if this is closer than 10 metres. While moving away, the player must not obstruct an opponent or interfere with play.

(b) While moving away, the offside player cannot be put onside by any action of the opposing team. However, before the player has moved the full 10 metres, the player can be put onside by any onside team-mate who runs in front of the player.

(c) When a player who is offside under the 10-Metre Law charges an opponent waiting to catch the ball, the referee blows the whistle at once and the offside player is penalised. Delay may prove dangerous to the opponent.

Sanction: Penalty kick

(d) When a player who is offside under the 10-metre Law plays the ball which has been misfielded by an opponent, the offside player is penalised.

Sanction: Penalty kick

(e) The 10-metre Law is not altered by the fact that the ball has hit a goal post or a crossbar. What matters is where the ball lands. An offside player must not be in front of the imaginary 10-metre line across the field.

Sanction: Penalty kick

(f) The 10-metre Law does not apply when a player kicks the ball, and an opponent charges down the kick, and a team-mate of the kicker who was in front of the imaginary 10-metre line across the field then plays the ball. The opponent was not ‘waiting to play the ball’ and the team-mate is onside. The 10-metre Law applies if the ball touches or is played by an opponent but is not charged down.

Sanction: 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.

11.5 BEING PUT ONSIDE UNDER THE 10-METRE LAW

(a) The offside player must retire behind the imaginary 10-metre line across the field,

otherwise the player is liable to be penalised.

(b) While retiring, the player can be put onside before moving behind the imaginary 10-metre

line by any of the three actions of the player’s team listed above in 11.2. However, the

player cannot be put onside by any action of the opposing team.

Basically, if you thought Davies was put onside by Roberts, he was still offside under the 10-metre law, as he never retired from his starting position. Also, as stated in point (b) above, even if the Scottish jumper did touch the ball, under the 10 metre law that would not have put him onside.

How then does a referee decide which law to use when? This is a big problem for referees, because the Law Book is so complicated and the incident in front of you happens in a split-second, so you have to know the laws and their application backwards. Luckily, the elite referees will normally have radio communications with his assistant referees and a TMO to assist, but spare a thought for the referee officiating your son’s game on a Saturday…he will often referee without qualified assistant referees, and will certainly never have the luxury of a TMO!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »