- 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.
- Tackling the ball-carrier.
- Preventing the opposition from playing as they wish.
- A player can be offside anywhere in the playing area.
- A player who receives an unintentional throw forward is not offside.
- An offside player may be penalised, if that player:
- Interferes with play; or
- Moves forwards towards the ball; or
- Was in front of a team-mate who kicked the ball and fails to retire immediately to an imaginary line across the field 10 metres on that player’s side from where the ball is caught or lands, even if it hits a goal post or crossbar first. If this involves more than one player, then the player closest to where the ball lands or is caught is the one penalised. This is known as the 10-metre law and still applies if the ball touches or is played by an opponent but not when the kick is charged down.
Sanction: The non-offending team can choose either:
- Penalty at the place of infringement; or
- Scrum where the offending team last played the ball.
- 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.
- Other than under Law 10.4c, an offside player can be put onside when:
- That player:
- Moves behind a team-mate who last played the ball; or
- Moves behind a team-mate who is onside.
- An onside team-mate of that player moves past the offside player and is within or has re-entered the playing area.
- An opponent of that player:
- Carries the ball five metres; or
- Passes the ball; or
- Kicks the ball; or
- Intentionally touches the ball without gaining possession of it.
- A player offside under Law 10.4c cannot be put onside by any action of an opponent, apart from a charge down.
- A player who is offside at a ruck, maul, scrum or lineout remains offside, even after the ruck, maul, scrum or lineout has ended.
- The player can be put onside only if:
- That player immediately retires behind the applicable offside line; or
- An opposition player carries the ball five metres in any direction; or
- An opposition player kicks the ball.
- An offside player may be penalised if that player:
- Fails to retire without undue delay and benefits from being put onside in a more advantageous position; or
- Interferes with play; or
- Moves towards the ball.
The game is played only by players who are onside.
Offside and onside in open play
Retiring from a ruck, maul, scrum or lineout