Law discussion: offside?

Thu, 19 Sep 2013 09:37
Large bismarck   carter630

The Cape Times has a column where readers can have their say. It's called HAVE YOUR SAY....... On Wednesday a reader suggested that Bismarck du Plessis was "offside by a mile" when he tackled Daniel Carter.

The reader's statement: "With regards to the tackle of Bismarck on Carter, I find it strange that all the experts are not alluding to the fact that the tackler was off side by a mile. So from a rugby perspective any good rugby player can make a good tackle if he is off side by that Margin. Anwar Majiet"

The statement was there without comment or counter-comment and is unfortunate at this time of unbridled referee-bashing in South Africa.

Let's forget the "by a mile" hyperbole, so loved by some Australian commentators for whom a suspect forward pass is always "forward by a mile" and a suspect offside is always "offside by a mile". Let's see if Du Plessis was offside at all.

Lots of sports have an offside rule/law - rugby, soccer, gridiron, lacrosse, water polo, hockey and ice hockey, for example. Each sport is unique with its own unique set of rules/laws and that includes their way of deciding offside and the sanctions it applies for being offside. Rugby, the game Du Plessis was playing at Eden Park on Saturday, has its laws governing offside and what to do about a player who is offside.

In rugby football there are two ways of being offside:

i. Being in front of a player of your side who last played the ball. This is basic offside law for general play.

In general play a player is offside if the player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball, or in front of a team-mate who last played the ball.

ii. Being offside at a scrum, line-out, ruck or maul. These have more complicated offside lines.

Let's apply this to Du Plessis.

After Morné Steyn missed a penalty kick at goal, the ball was dead. Play was restarted with a drop-out by Daniel Carter of New Zealand. It bounced and was caught by Tony Woodcock of New Zealand who passed it to Aaron Smith of New Zealand who passed it to Carter of New Zealand. Du Plessis tackled Carter.

No South African touched the ball. That meant that i. above did not apply to Du Plessis. He could have been standing under New Zealand's posts and not been offside. That means that the only way he could have been offside was if there wasa scrum, lineout, ruck or maul.

But there was no scrum, line-out, ruck or maul that could have produced offside lines. That meant that ii. above did not apply to Du Plessis.

All of that means that Du Plessis was not offside - not an inch and not a mile offside - not offside at all. He was then entitled to tackle Carter.

The problem with a statement like Anwar Majiet's is that it can spread misinformation.