Clip 2 - 2 June 2018 - Law 10

From a tackle/ruck, TJ Perenara of the Hurricanes passes back to his flyhalf Beauden Barrett. Barrett lofts a kick ahead.

David Havili, the Crusaders' fullback, comes forward to catch the ball as Julian Savea (14) of the Hurricanes approaches and George Bridge (11) of the Crusaders is close.

The ball bobbles out of Havili's hands and into Bridge's arms. Blade Thomson (8) of the Hurricanes tackles Bridge.

The referee awards a scrum to the Hurricanes.

When Havili plays the ball, it goes forward. When Bridge grasps the ball he is in front of Havili.

Law 10.1 - A player is offside in open play if that player is in front of a team-mate who is carrying the ball or who last played it. An offside player must not interfere with play. This includes:
Playing the ball.

Havili played the ball.
Bridge is in front of Havili when Havili played the ball.
Bridge is offside.

But.....

Law 10.5 - 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. Sanction: Scrum.

The ball popped from Havili straight to Bridge. Could he have avoided being touched by the ball?

Also...

Law 10.3 - A player who receives an unintentional throw forward is not offside.

It is a long stretch of the imagination to consider this a throw forward. Nothing that Havili does suggests that he is trying to throw the ball at all.

It is a knock-on.

Definition Knock-on: When a player loses possession of the ball and it goes forward, or when a player hits the ball forward with the hand or arm, or when the ball hits the hand or arm and goes forward and the ball touches the ground or another player before the original player can catch it.

This was in the pre-abbreviated law, which, it is claimed does not omit laws in the fuller text:

Law 11.7 OFFSIDE AFTER A KNOCK-ON
When a player knocks-on and an offside team-mate next plays the ball, the offside player is liable to sanction if playing the ball prevented an opponent from gaining an advantage.
Sanction: Penalty kick
Forward: Towards the opposition’s dead-ball line.

Bridge may well have prevented Thomson from enjoying advantage even though he is not in the immediate vicinity.

The referee obviously believed that what Bridge did was not a clear and obvious infraction of the law.

It is hard to believe that what Bridge did was an entirely instinctive reaction.
 

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