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


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.

Law Question: Offside Line – Defending Scrum Half


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.

Sad News – Angus Wort

A long term member of the Society, Angus Wort, has passed away aged 91. He was a member of the Society for over 25 years.

His funeral will take place at Stourbridge Crematorium at 12.20.p.m. on Tuesday 11th December (post code DY8 3RQ).

Following which his family, friends & rugby pals will travel back to Kings Norton RFC’s club house at Ash Lane, Hopwood, for refreshments etc commencing at 1.30.p.m.

If you are able to attend – although not a requirement if you do possess them, the wearing of club ties/blazers would be appropriate.

Base Layers – A Reminder

As the weather gets colder, a reminder about base layers in junior rugby, including every age group from colts downwards.

Base Layers
Upper body base layers are allowed in both adult and age grade rugby, providing the design and material complies with the criteria set out in WR regulation 12 and Law 4.

Age grade players are permitted to wear base layers leggings/tights, provided they comply with the World Rugby regulation.

There is a useful overview from England Rugby available here.

The Wold Rugby regulation (quite technical) is available here:

Or view the file using this link [PDF]: World_Rugby_Regulation12_EN

Chris Bath: Up Close with Fiji at the Dubai 7s

As the Dubai 7s gets going in warmer climes, Chris Bath shares with us a story from an experience refereeing a Fijian pre-tournament fixture from 2017.

“When the home team landed a couple of heavy hits on the Olympic Champions a small look and a wink to me from a Fijian player and it was game on!”

While local rugby is getting heavily into winter, the International seven’s series looks to start a new season in Dubai. The Dubai 7s is unique among all the world 7s tournaments. It is the only series that is run alongside a National 7s tournament which now includes 15 categories from local schools U19 to International vets which one year included 400 International caps on the pitch in one game.

While the Men’s and Women’s World Series are refereed by International panel sevens referees, every game from the National tournament is refereed by volunteer referees from around the world, (including that 400 cap vets game)!

There are around 145 referees at the tournament with every game requiring a team of 3 and around 2/3rd of those referees come out of societies from the UK. Many societies also send coaches as well as referees making the whole weekend an invaluable complete experience for any referee’s career.

Chris Bath with the Fiji 7s team

Last season, a rare opportunity came when the Fiji men’s team had agreed to a warm up game with a local expatriate 7s team. It was my providence to be asked to ‘help out’ with the game which was in effect supposed to be a friendly run out.

But no one defined the parameters and we all agreed that we would ‘see how it goes’. So when the home team landed a couple of heavy hits on the Olympic Champions a small look and a wink to me from a Fijian player and it was game on!

It was my biggest privilege to not only see from an entirely different point of view the sheer mesmerising skill that is Fijian rugby, but the trust and faith the players and the coaches had in me to control a game with such latitude and with such players where the smallest of injuries could have such large consequences.