Thursday, 5 December 2019

Offside at a Quick Throw In?

Law 10.9 A player who is offside at a ruck, maul, scrum or lineout remains offside, even after the ruck, maul, scrum or lineout has ended.
Does this apply to a QTI?
Law 10 is the offside law.

Technically Quick Throw ins (QTI) fall under the same law as Lineouts...Law 18, so you could say yes.  But we usually say that offside lines disappear when the ball goes dead, so you could say no?

Sometimes as a referee you just have to think about what the law makers were trying to achieve, combined with the principles and spirit of the game.

So we have to look at the purpose of the offside law, which is to create space and allow free flowing rugby rather than a static slogfest.  When the ball goes into touch the purpose of a QTI is to get the game going quickly.  There are specific laws that stop the opposition preventing a QTI by standing in the 5m channel, again to allow quick free flowing rugby.

Essentially if a player is in an offside position when the ball goes into touch (in front of a kick which bounces into touch for instance) he shouldn't benefit from being offside.  So if he inhibits the QTI (but is outside the 5m channel) the referee could penalise him for being in an offside position prior to the ball going into touch.

If the QTI is taken and that team carry the ball 5m, or pass or kick the ball then the offside player would be put onside, so let's play on.

The last scenario is that a QTI is taken and the receiver is immediately tackled (before he can pass or run) by a player who was in an offside position when the ball went into touch.  In that case he should be penalised for being offside prior to the QTI because he is shutting down space and not playing within the spirit of the law. 

Otherwise we could have the scenario where a player is offside after a breakdown way up the field in the opposition half, but instead of getting onside he just stays there (not interfering with play) until the opposition have put him onside by passing and running the ball, allowing him to then benefit by being in their defense.  Clearly that would be ridiculous.

Great question, difficult to answer.