Law discussion: Line-out offside?

Thu, 06 Oct 2016 16:19
Large kobus van dyk wp tackled 800

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: rugby365 law guru, Paul Dobson analysis and incident which caused some debate at Newlands when Western Province played Boland.

Western Province have a line-out on the Boland 22. Mike Willemse throws in and Jan de Klerk rises up and catches the ball. As he comes down Western Province players and Boland players pack on him, thus forming a maul. De Klerk hands the ball back and it gets into the hands of Willemse at the back of the maul, which is static.

Kobus van Dyk (7) of Western Province had not been in the line-out but 10 metres or so back - with the backs. He runs in to join the maul and the referee tells him to 'get out'. Van Dyk obeys but is still penalised. The referee explains that it is a maul and the line-out is not over, which meant that he was not allowed to come running in as he did.

The question is: when is the line-out over?

Law 19.9 Beginning and ending a line-out
(b) Line-out ends. The line-out ends when the ball or a player carrying it leaves the line-out.

This includes the following:

* When the ball is thrown, knocked or kicked out of the line-out, the line-out ends.
* When the ball or a player carrying the ball moves into the area between the 5-metre line and the touchline, the line-out ends.
* When a line-out player hands the ball to a player who is peeling off, the line-out ends.
* When the ball is thrown beyond the 15-metre line, or when a player takes or puts it beyond that line, the line-out ends.
* When a ruck or maul develops in a line-out, and all the feet of all the players in the ruck or maul move beyond the line of touch, the line-out ends.
* When the ball becomes unplayable in a line-out, the line-out ends. Play restarts with a scrum.

Have a look at this line-out and maul again and see which of the asterisked items applies.

The ball is not thrown, knocked or kicked out of the line-out.
Neither the ball nor a player carrying it moves into the tramline
Nobody is peeling off. De Klerk hands the ball to a player in the maul.
The ball is not thrown or taken over the 15-metre line.
The maul forms but is static and the feet of all the players in the maul do not move across the line of touch.
The ball does not become unplayable.

None of the asterisked conditions for the end of a line-out apply.

The line-out is not over when Van Dyk joins the maul.

Van Dyk had not been in the original line-out. He did not take part in it.

Law 19.13 Offside lines at the line-out
(a) When a line-out forms, there are two separate offside lines, parallel to the goal lines, for the teams.
(c) Players not taking part. The other offside line applies to the players not taking part in the line-out (usually the backs). For them, the offside line is 10 metres behind the line of touch or their goal line, if that is nearer.

The offside line for Van Dyk was 10 metres back from the line-out till the line-out ended.

Law 19.15 Offside when not taking part in the line-out
(a) A player who is not taking part in the line-out is offside if that player oversteps the offside line before the line-out has ended.
Sanction: Penalty kick on the offending team’s offside line opposite the place of infringement, at least 15 metres from the touchline.

The referee was correct in finding Van Dyk's action illegal.