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Sunday, March 23, 2008

The offside line at the tackle under the ELV's

The Experimental Law Variations have understandably be one of the most talked about new innovations in Southern Hemisphere rugby for a long time.
The laws address a number of areas in our game where there was a need for improvement, with opinions varying widely on whether they have thus far been a success in the Super 14 or not.

One of the laws that is confusing a lot of people and is quite difficult to accept for some, is the Offside Line at the Breakdown law, where an offside line is created immediately when the tackle is made. This means that any other players have to enter through the gate, with any interference from the wrong position being deemed illegal.

Breakdown (tackle/post tackle)
1. Players entering the breakdown area must do so through the gate.
2. Immediately the tackle occurs there are offside lines.
3. The half back should not be touched unless he has his hands on the ball.

This came into play last weekend when the Stormers played the Chiefs, and a Penalty try was awarded when Schalk Burger was tackled from an offside position. Confusion reigned supreme, with Schalk himself looking shocked, but it's all explained nicely here by former Bok Nass Botha.
Even so, it seems like a crazy new law and one that really needs to be looked at.

For more details regarding the ELV's, read here



  • Surely that rule is just for the player coming in to the ruck. Once the ball is popped up, isn't that a new passage of play?

    By Blogger Nicholas, at March 24, 2008 12:37 am  

  • I agree with nicholas, so if a player receives a pass, and an opposing player tackles him from behind, thats considered offsides? So, how is anybody going to tackle anybody if theirs a breakaway, outrun them and than get in front of them and tackle them?

    By Anonymous Chris, at March 24, 2008 1:45 am  

  • I agree with nicholas, so if a player receives a pass, and an opposing player tackles him from behind, thats considered offsides? So, how is anybody going to tackle anybody if theirs a breakaway, outrun them and than get in front of them and tackle them?

    By Anonymous Chris, at March 24, 2008 1:45 am  

  • well...
    does that mean that if player A brake the line of defense, and gets tackled, and pops it to player B, no one could tackle him, because defense would be all offside?

    By Anonymous me, at March 24, 2008 1:45 am  

  • what the hell? cant be like that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 2:57 am  

  • It seems to me that it should only apply to those that are hitting the ruck.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 4:27 am  

  • This clip is all wrong, surely. Firstly the comments above are right. Secondly the rule Botha is quoting is the old one (still must come through the back gate and a line is still created across the park).

    Thirdly, the ELV's are a nice try but not helpful. Understandably the NH teams have rejected them. They're the best thing since Matt Rogers according to the unbelievably biased RugbyHeaven.com. Just shows you really...

    By Blogger Kerivoula, at March 24, 2008 7:16 am  

  • Clarification...

    I believe the "gate" law already exists in the current book. Let's say in the linked situation the Stormer that got tackled places the ball back. The recovering Chief cannot pick up the placed ball unless he goes around and through the gate. This is true now.

    The ELV adds the instant offside line, which currently only is created when a ruck or maul happens over the tackle.

    The "new passage of play" doesn't mean much here, and I don't think is enough to put the Chief onside.

    However, in the current laws, you can be put onside by the opponent if they kick or pass the ball. If that's true in the ELVs, then I think the recovering Chief might have been put onside by that.

    Whereas if Schalk had gone to recover a placed ball, perhaps then the new law would fully take effect, and the Chief would have to recover to the other side of the offside line before re-advancing to play defense.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 7:54 am  

  • Thanks Chris, good clarification.

    But it only further adds to the un-reffable nature of the ELVs. Might sound sensible at the University they were dreamed up at, but try reffing those fine lines. It seems to open it up to more subjective calls, something which can only be bad when everyone is calling for more consistency.

    By Blogger Kerivoula, at March 24, 2008 8:43 am  

  • This rule is ridiculous, forwards struggle enough with playing by the rules as they are. There are going to be so many offsides!

    ELV's are crap.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 12:14 pm  

  • Very confusing.

    Surely another example of some boffins dreaming up rules that are of no practical use. Just what we need - more rules to make life even more difficult for forwards...

    How exactly are these rules decided upon?

    By Anonymous Rugby Bets, at March 24, 2008 12:26 pm  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 12:39 pm  

  • Christ it's a horrible accent that Sarfrican.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 12:42 pm  

  • I have to agree with the above comments - this just seems ridiculous. The ball was clearly offloaded out of the tackle, and considering these rules only apply to the breakdown, there's no need for the tackling player to circle round and come through what would now be a non-existant gate. I can't see how it could ever have been a penalty try, to be honest.

    Quite apart from all that, what exactly does the referee expect the defender to do in this case? Cover twice as much ground as the attacker to prevent the try? It would make last-ditch defending impossible.

    By Anonymous Rob, at March 24, 2008 1:21 pm  

  • I dont see anything wrong with how rugby is played at the moment, so why introduce pointless little rule changes like this? I AM in favour of some of the rules, like the defenders being 5m behind the scrum, bt this "offside line" is just nonsense. If somthing isnt broken, why try to fix it?

    By Anonymous TheFullback, at March 24, 2008 1:38 pm  

  • "I dont see anything wrong with how rugby is played at the moment, so why introduce pointless little rule changes like this?"

    You must have missed most of the six nations, probably because you were asleep which is understandable.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 2:09 pm  

  • The ElV's are all good and well, making the game faster and a little bit more "exciting", but the problem remains that only three countries are experimenting with the ELV's (Oz, New Zealand and South Africa). None of the Northern Hemisphere Countries are using them. Now the question is when the Tours happen which laws apply. And if it is not the ELV's, How harsh are the penalties going to be for the Tri Nation Players?

    By Anonymous Andrew, at March 24, 2008 2:09 pm  

  • People who support the ELV's because they want more 'excitement' and 'speed' are statistically more likely to:

    1. Prefer WWF wrestling to boxing.

    2. Drive a pimped-up Ford Mondeo and tell their mates it's an Aston Martin

    3. Miss the days of Gladiators on TV

    4. Would be happy to see Rugby drift into a bland run-around, where every player conforms to the optimal 'shape', specialist positions are lost, and a 15 try game "by definition" becomes better than a 3 try game.

    On that day, the name should be changed and the word 'rugby' hung up by the shirts of the great players who have managed to play ‘exciting’ and ‘speedy’ rugby without being constrained by arbitrary, subjective and entirely purile rules created by those who would prefer not to play with the big boys.

    By Blogger Kerivoula, at March 24, 2008 2:53 pm  

  • Kerivoula... dude... you just laid the hard-hitting truth all out there... lol...

    I totally agree with you and the "sane" rugby lovers... This rule will totally mess up such a tactical well structured sport.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 3:25 pm  

  • I believe this rule is being applied incorrectly. Once the off-load has occured, the defensive player is put onside.

    The instant off-side line really only applies once a Ruck/Maul has formed. As many have pointed out, there's no use in even pursuing a break if this is the rule is going to be enforced in this manner.

    As for kerivoula's comment, I'm suprised he himself is not a WWF fan considering his flare for being quite overdramatic.

    By Anonymous jreffy, at March 24, 2008 3:35 pm  

  • jreffy, in the ELVs the instant offside line would form as soon as the ballcarrier and tackler hit the ground.

    Also, I think the explanation that under the ELVs the defender has to go through the gate is incorrect.

    He has to go through the gate if he wants to contest the ball on the ground (as is true currently).

    But in the video linked to the original post, he doesn't have to get through the gate to tackle Burger... he has to recover to his side of the offside line and then tackle.

    Presumably he could wait until Burger advances past the "instant offside line" and then tackle him.

    But I agree that this rule is a bit strange.

    And if you were a recovering defender, would you be able to resist tackling a player right in front of you who is about to score a try?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 3:49 pm  

  • Kerivoula, you've once again proven that you have no idea what you're talking about, or more specifically, that you haven't watched enough Super 14 rugby this season to justify all the criticism.
    That's not your fault, but to make comments like that is totally out of line and just plain stupid.

    Everyone who's watched Super 14 this season knows that the new EXPERIMENTAL laws aren't perfect, there's not doubt about it.

    But, there are elements of the laws that are a huge success, and will no doubt be implemented by the IRB in the future.

    The law about entering through the gate is fact, and is direct from SANZARS document listing the ELV laws.

    In this instance, it is a crazy ruling though of course, and will no doubt be amended in the future.

    By Anonymous Sharky, at March 24, 2008 4:02 pm  

  • this rule is absolute bullshit

    By Anonymous flanker 6, at March 24, 2008 4:58 pm  

  • in my view it looks like a scaled down rugby league :S
    it will help the game be faster though :S

    By Anonymous josh1992, at March 24, 2008 5:01 pm  

  • Gotta agree with Kerivoula.

    It seems that for every ELV that is adding sensible improvement to the game, there is another ELV that looks to be sending us away from what Union has been.

    Refer the IRB Playing Charter of a sport "for all body types".

    Some of these ELVs I think are helpful.

    However, some of the ELVs (like this one) are sending us toward a game where its beauty is spoon-fed like Pablum.

    Case in point, in 2007, HEC (a french university) sent a team to play at a rugby tournament in the USA. They did not know that US university rugby plays CONTESTED scrums. Apparently, in French University leagues, scrums are uncontested due to liability / insurance coverage issues.

    So what happened? They show up with a 15s team that looked like a 7s roster. All the guys were built the same -- tall, wiry guys. The only difference were their heights. While they had great ball handling skills, and ran all over the park, they couldn't do any of the cleaning up stuff at the piles. They also couldn't scrum to save their lives.

    I am not slagging the HEC boys. Rather, I am pointing out if you eliminate the scrum, selection of players will totally change, and rugby will indeed cease to be a sport for all body types.

    By Blogger Cheyanquí, at March 24, 2008 6:31 pm  

  • wat the hell? that rule makes no sense!! thnx 2 chris 4 clarifying cos it makes sense 4 da defender to retreat behind da line nd den com thru the gate IF the ball is placed bk BUT a pop off from the tackle brings the ball in to play and is a new passage of play!

    i reali hope this rule is refined to make that clear! offloads/ pop offs are a key part of the game, they are a risk that may or may not pay off. to take away any chance of the defender ruins this

    PLZE PLZE make this rule clearer!!

    once again thnx 2 chris 4 clarifying...eva thought of joining the RFU?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 24, 2008 11:16 pm  

  • burger receives the ball and it is recyced and new play begins, in open play, isnt there really no off sides, if burger would have received the ball and given time to run, so is the tackler suppose to SPRINT ahead of him and turn and tackle??? i would think what he did was ok, cuz he play began and he chased and tackled!

    By Anonymous mr.clutchcleverismyhero, at March 25, 2008 3:43 am  

  • Considering that the player passed the ball, I'd say there is no offside anymore so no penalty neither. In my championship (a small french regional one) the player has to enter through the gate as it is said in that video, but a referee would never give a penalty try for that...

    By Blogger Tom, at March 25, 2008 9:11 am  

  • 2. Immediately as the tackle occurs there are offside lines.

    Not that difficult to understand really, is it??

    Sure it's a crazy rule, in particular in this incident, but is that not clear enough??

    By Anonymous Sharky, at March 25, 2008 12:33 pm  

  • Sure, sharky, but in current laws an opponent puts you onside by passing the ball. So does the pop-pass from the ground put the recovering Chief defender back onside, making him eligible to tackle Burger?

    What if he waited just behind Burger and tackled him as soon as he (the Chief) stepped over the newly-formed offside line?

    anonymous, as a prop I don't think I will ever have the legs to run around like a ref :)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 25, 2008 3:00 pm  

  • The law does indeed seem to be pointless IMO but ELVs are all about attempting to create a game where more tries and running rugby is encouraged and I think this is a good thing...we have to try things to learn things...

    I think what we can learn this time round is that the law actually seems to inhibit a spectacular part of the game - scramble defense \ try saving tackles...

    I think so long as the tackle takes place once the attacking side has crossed the offside line it should be legal...anything before is clearly an infringement...

    This ELV needs to be binned...it gives nothing to the game IMO.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 25, 2008 5:30 pm  

  • Why is it that most of the critics of the ELVs are northerns? I mean, has it got to do with the fact that they don't have the ELVs in their domestic competitions?

    Southerns tend to be more open-minded toward ELVS. There are some for (Deans, Nucifora...) some against (du Preez, Habana...) but no one says they are nonsense.

    By Blogger sesenta y cuatro, at March 25, 2008 5:38 pm  

  • The problem is there are too many changes in my opinion. And this rule is ridiculous. I quite like the one where the backs have to stand 5 or 10m behind the scrum cos it gives extra space when the ball comes out. To be honest though that's about the only one i like. The freekicks instead of penalties is also ridiculous.

    By Anonymous geraint, at March 25, 2008 9:08 pm  

  • I agree with the commentator

    The defensive player shouldn't have been in that position in the first place.

    But in that situation...there's nothing you can impulsively do but tackle...but still, games should run on rules not impulse.

    By Blogger Don, at March 26, 2008 1:27 am  

  • oh no! they're gonna ruin it!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 27, 2008 2:02 am  

  • oh no! they're gonna ruin it!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 27, 2008 2:02 am  

  • oh no! they're gonna ruin it!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 27, 2008 2:02 am  

  • I agree with you sesenta y cuatro...there is a divide between North and South on this but there should not be...

    The ELVs are attempting to make the game better...and force players to use their grey matter instead of just their muscle matter...but I can't see how this particular tackle law makes the game better?

    Haha...I had to laugh at you picking up on DuPreez and Habana not liking the ELVs...their less than adequite season thus far says more about this than their ability to actually play successfully to these laws.

    The lesson of the ELVs is a good one...learn and adapt your abilities and team stratagy or get left behind...quite how the defending champs can be having such a pathetic season is beyond me...

    I for one am very glad the boreing Bulls stratagy and attitude has been found out by the ELVs...let's not forget the fiasco around the coach either which is a huge factor in their poor performance...


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at March 27, 2008 3:32 pm  

  • The reason Northerners and Southerners are different is that our seasons have different weather. We in the North enjoy the chess aspect of rugby, as in this years 6 nations. It works for us and we find it enthralling. Those who say that more tries and running rugby is intrinsically better are unthinking fools. I've seen many a low-scoring but enjoyable match. Rugby can be played in two ways, why try to restrict that? I think that particular law in question cannot be played or reffed and so will disappear, I sincerely hope so anyway, it's a match killer.

    By Blogger Mr Chips, at March 27, 2008 9:28 pm  

  • i dont really agree with this.. that offside rule would only apply if a ruck was formed, and in this situation, the ruck was not formed because only the ball carrier and tackler we involved.. therefore when the ball was released from the breakdown, the defending player was not offside.. i think that play was fine...

    By Anonymous Gerald, at March 28, 2008 7:53 am  

  • "i dont really agree with this.. that offside rule would only apply if a ruck was formed..."

    Except that under the ELVs, the offside line is formed as soon as the tackle happens, not waiting until the ruck. That said, I think this still should have been considered a new passage of play.

    By Anonymous Bill, at March 29, 2008 2:09 am  

  • I feel that rugby would lose some of it's characteristics if these laws were to be implemented across the board. As someone said earlier, tactical games can be as much fun to watch as the free flowing game and if tries came more often then they would be less special.

    Ps. I think these laws have been brought in by the southern hemisphere to take away the forward advantage the northern hemisphere teams have... :D

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at April 02, 2008 12:23 am  

  • Forward domination northern teams have? Just because you play forward dominated 10 man rugby does not mean your forward packs are demonstrably better. The opposite at the moment. The Saffers have a reasonable pack and the ABs cannot be considered slouches in that department.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at May 19, 2008 11:05 am  

  • I can see the point of most of the ELVs, But this i don't see what they are trying to achive? Possibly to speed the game up but i think it then makes the game ocassionally unplayable because its possible a whole team can be offside? This rule definatly needs to be scrapped! But i am in favour of most other ELVs.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at June 11, 2008 3:55 pm  

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