20 Apr 2017
Was this decision really surprising?
By Paul Dobson, Moonsport
Harold Vorster of the Lions has the ball but the Stormers centres, EW Viljoen and Daniel du Plessis, combine to shove him into touch, giving the Stormers the line-out. The Stormers have five players in the line-out with Jano Vermaak back from the line-out, perhaps intending to be the receiver. Bongo Mbonambi throws into the line-out and Pieter-Steph du Toit rises high and catches the ball.
While the ball is being thrown in, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, the Stormers' No.8, come running in from a distance. When Du Toit descends to earth, the Stormers gather round in a maul formation and Notshe arrives and takes the ball from Du Toit. The referee penalises Notshe 10 metres back from the line-out and about 16 metres in from touch.
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.
Law 19 Line-out
Players taking part in the line-out known as participating players. Players taking part in the line-out are the player who throws-in and an immediate opponent, the two players waiting to receive the ball from the line-out and the line-out players.
All other players. All other players who are not taking part in the line-out must be at least 10 metres behind the line of touch, on or behind their goal line if that is nearer, until the line-out ends.
Sanction: Penalty kick on the offside line, at least 15 metres from the touchline
What was Notshe's status?
Notshe was not participating in the line-out, not one of the five, not JJ van Rensburg, Eben Etzebeth, Pieter-Steph du Toit, Nizaam Carr nor Frans Malherbe. Those five Stormers are participating in the line-out.
Notshe then is amongst "All other players". He is required to be 10 metres behind the line of touch - which is the line between the two lines of players participating in the line-out.
Notshe is over his offside line while Mbonambi's throw is still in the end.
When Notshe gets to Etzebeth, the line-out is still not 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.
None of these things had happened to end the line-out.
It is a bit surprising that Notshe looked surprised when he was penalised.