Law Question: Offside Line (2) – Kick Chase from in-goal

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Question:

When a team are trying to get out of their 22, say on a defensive 5m scrum, and put their kicker deep in the in-goal area to clear, do his/her teammates need to be behind him/her to be onside to chase the kick legally? Or does the try line form their offside line?

I can’t find anything to clarify this in Law 21 In-goal.

Society response:

Law 10 Offside and onside in open play

A player who is in front of his/her team mate who last played the ball is offside.  Hence any player in front of that kicker who kicked from deep within his/her “in goal” is offside unless either the kicker puts them onside or they retire until they put themselves onside or a player from behind the kicker puts them onside.

The laws have to be read as a “whole” not selectively and in the same way that offside at scrum, lineout, ruck and maul are shown within those sections, even though there is a section for “in goal”, much of what does happen in goal generally happens in open play, so Law 10 is also relevant.

Food for thought:

If the ball is put into in-goal by the defending side and then made dead, the restart favours the attacking side. If the ball is put into in-goal by the attacking side and then made dead, the restart favours the defending side.

If from a defensive 5m scrum the fly half receives the ball in in-goal and an opposition flanker breaks legally as the scrum half passes and the flanker charges down that attempted clearance kick and the ball goes dead, how the referee restarts the game depends on whether the flanker charges down the kick in in-goal (5m scrum, attacking throw-in) or the ball has crossed the plane of goal back into the field of play when the flanker charges it down (22m drop out). In such situations, Referees are well advised to quickly get to the plane of the goal line to make the correct call.

Response written December 21st, 2018.

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