The Roar
The Roar


KNOW YOUR LAWS: An onside offside?

22nd June, 2018

It’s Saturday night at Moore Park. We’re all tied up at 15-apiece with seconds left on the clock. Ireland’s Keith Earls makes a break down the sideline and in a moment of madness, throws the intercept straight into the arms of a flying Marika Koroibete with nothing but daylight in front of him.

But wait, what’s this? The ref has given his whistle a kiss and put the brakes on Koroibete’s wheels – “offside!”

Ireland slot the penalty goal to win the match. Michael Cheika starts to pull out what little hair he has left. Will Genia shakes his broken arm in outrage. Even the most loyal Irishman spills his precious pint of Guinness in shock.

It’s a ridiculous thing to imagine, isn’t it? Surely no person, let alone a referee, could display such an egregious gap of rugby knowledge.

Well, you know what they say, the truth is stranger than fiction.

In Miami, Florida, one referee did the unthinkable. And to make matters worse, the penalised team seemed to agree with him.

So before we descend into anarchy, let’s just set the record straight. How can a player be called offside if the opposition has thrown him the ball in open play?

Law 10.1 states that “a player is offside in open play if that player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball or who last played it.”

Seeing as the “offending” player was the first person on his team to touch the ball, we can rule this out as being the violated clause.


Now, what about Laws 10.8 and 10.9?

These refer to the players retiring from the ruck, maul, lineout, or scrum. Perhaps our “offender” failed to go “behind the applicable offside line”, or maybe the opposing ball-carrier couldn’t muster “five metres in any direction.”

But alas, no.

The referee’s last saving grace has been kiboshed by a little bit of movie magic. The crystal clear footage shows the ball-carrier travelling at least 10 metres before offloading the ball.

No offside – play on!

What do you think Roarers, was the call outrageous or outstanding? Let us know in the comments.