Law Discussion: The receiver lifts
London Wasps are to throw into a line-out. They have scrumhalf Joe Simpson as a receiver. Hooker Rob Webber throws in towards the back where the second last player in the line-out, Richard Birkett, jumps for the ball. As he goes up Simpson moves from receiver into the line-out and lifts Birkett who wins the ball.
The referee blows his whistles, signals a free kick to Gloucester and says: "Nine came into the line and acted as a lifter. He can't do that."
Law 19.8 (i) Where the receiver must stand. The receiver must stand at least 2 metres towards that player’s goal-line from that player’s team-mates who are line-out players and between 5 and 15 metres from the touchline until the line-out begins.
Sanction: Free Kick on the 15-metre line
Exception: The receiver may run into the gap and perform any of the actions available to any other player in the line-out. The receiver is liable to sanction for offences in the line-out as would be other players in the line-out.
Is the referee right?
The receiver is allowed to have his cake and eat it if he is clever. He must be two metres from the line-out till the line-out starts.
When does the line-out start?
Law 19.9 (a) Line-out begins. The line-out begins when the ball leaves the hands of the player throwing it in.
That means that Simpson much be two metres from the line-out till the ball leaves Webber's hands.
In this instance Simpson carefully takes a position which looks two metres from the line-out. He stays there till Webber throws the ball on a lofty trajectory towards the back of the line-out. The ball is on its way when Simpson steps into the line-out and lifts Birkett.
Simpson's action certainly looks legal and play should have gone on.