Law Question: Offside Line – Defending Scrum Half

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Question:

I’m after some clarification on where the opposition scrum half can go at the scrum if they’re not following the ball round. It’s something I’ve never pinned down.

Do they have to stay on the eight’s back foot if they go the opposite side to the put in?

Society response:

2018 Law book: Law 19.30 states:

Once play in the scrum begins, the scrum-half of the team not in possession:

  1. Takes up a position with both feet behind the ball and close to the scrum or
  2. Permanently retires to a point on the offside line either at that team’s hindmost foot, or
  3. Permanently retires at least five metres behind the hindmost foot.

Hence the non-throwing scrum half has THREE options when he/she’s on the same side as the throwing in scrum half – but only TWO options should he/she not follow the ball on that side – i.e. behind No 8’s feet or back five metres. However, he/she can track sideways away from the scrum remaining behind the No 8’s feet and does not have to remain in close proximity to the scrum.

This particular scenario is in the current World Rugby Law test.

One subtlety though: the throwing in scrum half MAY elect to throw in on the “wrong” side – which rarely happens other than in Sevens where the rearmost foot and the ball are virtually the same place immediately often the throw in.

Response written December 21st, 2018.

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