What is the off side in rugby?

Updated: 9/27/2023
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11y ago

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Offside is a very difficult rule in Rugby union as it is changing constantly in play and both sets of players (Team in possession and the team defending) can be offside.

To make it easier, i will use examples (during which Team 1 will always be in possession and Team 2 will be defending). Also, during all of this, the player is only offside if the player is active (ie. interfering in any way with any player or the ball)

1st, a player from team1 is offside is he is in front of the ball. The only exception to this rule is if the team1 kicks the ball and that player retreats. If he procedes to chase the ball he is offside. As soon as the kicker is in front of him, he is back onside. A player from team2 cannot be offside if the ball is in open play.

2nd, If a ruck or maul forms or it is a scrum, a player from team2 is offside is he is further forward that than the ruck, maul or scrum. A player from team 1 is offside is he is further forward that the ball (but only if he is not part of the ruck, maul or scrum).

3rd In the case of a throw-in, an imaginary line goes across the pitch from where the throw is taken from. All players in the line out must be 1m away from that line, on there own side and cannot cross that line until one team has the ball secured (a lineout usually has 7 players per team and that includes the scrum half who stands just beside the line out to receive the ball if whoever catches the ball decides to pass the ball out of the lineout). Any player who is not part of the lineout must be 10 metres away and cannot interfere with play until the ball has been secured and has passed out of the lineout.

Finally, an execption to a player on team1 if the ball is kicked from a restart. If the player is in front of the kicker but still inside the deadball area, when the ball is kicked, then he is still onside.

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9y ago
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11y ago

During a ruck, an Invisable defensive line is formed, any player who crosses the lone before the ball is live is offside.

During a kickoff, if a defensive player is in front or beside the kicker he is offside. For an offensive player he can be called for offside if he isn't back 10 yards.

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10y ago

The off side rules are varied due to the set pieces and range of offenses however in general:

A player who is in an offside position is liable to be penalised 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 ( Which is Law 11.4).

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

A player who receives an unintentional throw forward is not considerred offside. A player can be deemed offside in the in-goal.

Related links below cover greater detail

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8y ago

There are differing scenarios

If a player is in front of a team-mate in possession of the ball, or in front of a team-mate who last played the ball, they will be offside if they:

Actively try to play the ball

Do not retreat within 10m of an opponent who is waiting for the ball

Move towards the opponents or the place where the ball lands without first coming back onside

The referee will award a penalty at the place where the offence took place.

For scrum-halves, the offside line is the line of the ball fed into the scrum.

That means they can't go beyond that line until the ball has been put into the scrum by the opposing number nine.

For all the other players, the offside line is an imaginary line drawn through the 'hindmost' foot of the last player in the scrum.

No player apart from the eight forwards and scrum-halves are allowed within this area.

The opposing scrum-half has to wait until the ball is out of the scrum before making a tackle for the ball.

If they don't, the referee will award a penalty.

Rucks and mauls, especially when the ball is being recycled a lot.

Like the scrum, an imaginary line is drawn through the hindmost foot of the last player in the ruck or maul.

Players must either join the ruck or maul or retreat behind the offside line.

A player is offside if they:

Join from their opponent's side

Join play from in front of the last man

Do not join either the ruck or maul, but fail to get behind the offside line

Leave the ruck or maul, but do not get behind the offside line.

If a player is about to kick an "up-and-under" or a grubber kick for a team-mate to run onto, the chasing player must be level or just behind the kicker.

If they are not, the referee will award the opposition a penalty.

If the player is in front of the kicker already, they cannot get involved with open play.

Players often raise their arms when running back to an onside position.

This shows the referee that they have no intention of joining play because they are in an offside position.

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Q: What is the off side in rugby?
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