Clip 3 - 11 June 2018 Law 14
"Lazy runner" - Commentators sometimes refer to a penalty as a harsh decision. This is one, not uncommon, is a harsh decision.
The Crusaders are attacking but turn the ball over deep in Chiefs territory. The ball goes out to Charlie Ngatai who chips ahead over tall Luke Romano and gathers the bounce.
Cody Taylor of the Crusaders tackles him and gets to his feet over Ngatai when Anton Lienert-Brown makes contact with Taylor. The ball comes back to Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi who passes to his left where the ball strikes Romano who is falling back.
The referee penalises Romano.
If there was no ruck where Ngatai was tackled, there was no offside line, as there is no offside line at a tackle, but...There is an amendment to the law.
Law 14.10 - Offside lines created after tackle
Offside lines are created at a tackle when at least one player is on his feet and over the ball, which is on the ground. Each team’s offside line runs parallel to the goal-line through the hindmost point of any player in the tackle or on his feet over the ball. If that point is on or behind the goal-line, the offside line for that team is the goal-line.
Cody Taylor is on his feet over the ball. There is an offside line. There is probably also a ruck when Lienert-Brown makes contact with Taylor.
It is clear that there is an offside line that goes from touchline to touchline behind either Lienert-Brown's back foot or Ngatai's back foot.
And so we can accept that Romano was in an offside position when the ball struck him.
Romano was, in fact, trying to do the right thing - get back to his side. He makes no attempt at all to play the ball. Tahuriorangi throws the ball at him.
The scrumhalf has a 180-degree arc in which to throw the ball and, with options galore, he threw it at Romano who certainly could not have anticipated this sudden reverse pass.
This the law that applies to Romano
Law 10.10 RETIRING FROM A RUCK, MAUL, SCRUM OR LINE-OUT
- A player who is offside at a ruck, maul, scrum or line-out remains offside, even after the ruck, maul, scrum or line-out has ended.
- An offside player may be penalised if that player:
- Fails to retire without undue delay and benefits from being put onside in a more advantageous position, or interferes with play; or Moves towards the ball.
Romano is retiring at lock's speed. He does not interfere with play; play interferes with him. He does not move towards the ball.
Sometimes cunning scrumhalves do this deliberately but not in this case as Tahuriorangi was looking in the opposite direction.
It just does not seem right that a player who is doing the right thing should be penalised for doing the right thing. Could it not be treated as accidental offside?
This is what the law says about accidental offside, admittedly in open/general play and not after a ruck thing:
A player is accidentally offside if the player cannot avoid being touched by the ball or by a team-mate who is carrying the ball. Only if the offending team gains an advantage should play stop.
Romano could not avoid being touched by the ball.
Just a thought.