Law discussion: Sudden healing
This incident from a match between London Irish and Saracens at Twickenham shows that that there is always something in rugby you have not seen before.
It seems that there is always something in rugby you have not seen before despite many decades of watching.
This incident (shown in a clip below) which is a replay, is from a match between London Irish and Saracens at Twickenham in England's Premiership and is a case in point.
There is a ruck inside the London Irish 10-metre line while Marland Yarde, the young England wing, is down field just inside the Saracens 10-metre line, in other words more than 20 metres downfield on the Saracens side of the ruck. He is having treatment for cramp.
London Irish win the ruck and the ball goes from Tomás O'Leary to Ian Humphreys, who passes a long pass to Eamonn Sheridan. Sheridan runs to the half-way line, draws a man and passes to Chris Hala'ufia who runs on beyond the place where Yarde was having treatment. Up jumps Yarde and Hala'ufia does a switch with Yarde who beats Richard Wigglesworth, the Saracens scrumhalf on the outside, and runs round for a try, which is awarded.
Should it have been awarded?
Firstly, Yarde is in an offside position - way offside, more than 20-metres offside. He is legitimately there as he us receiving medical attention.
Law 5.4 (a) The referee may allow play to continue while a medically trained person treats an injured player in the playing area or the player may go to the touchline for treatment.
If you do not believe that cramp is an injury, you have never had cramp!
It is a rugby principle that a player who is in an offside position is not penalised unless he does something.
Law 11.1 (a) A player who is in an offside position is liable to sanction 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 (Law 11.4).
A player who is in an offside position is not automatically penalised.
A player who receives an unintentional throw forward is not offside.
A player can be offside in the in-goal.
(b) Offside and interfering with play. A player who is offside must not take part in the game.
This means the player must not play the ball or obstruct an opponent.
Yarde is in an offside position and he takes part in the game.
Does Yarde come onside before taking part in the game?
Law 11.8 PUTTING ONSIDE A PLAYER RETIRING DURING A RUCK, MAUL, SCRUM OR LINE-OUT
When a ruck, maul, scrum or line-out forms, a player who is offside and is retiring as required by Law remains offside even when the opposing team wins possession and the ruck, maul, scrum or line-out has ended. The player is put onside by retiring behind the applicable offside line. No other action of the offside player and no action of that player’s team-mates can put the offside player onside.
If the player remains offside the player can be put onside only by the action of the opposing team.
No action of the London Irish puts Yarde onside. He is liable to be penalised. That means that he should have been penalised. In a strange way that the referee did not penalise him is to the referee's credit. Something new, strange, not seen before occurs and he did not immediately take fright and blow his whistle. He let play go on.