That's basically my question. When a ball carrier is tackled, he usually lets go of the ball (behind him more often than not). Why can't the opposing team pick up the ball? And who is legally allowed to pick up the ball at that moment? Is there a name for this position?

Edit: Why is the blue team not going for the ball in this scenario:

enter image description here

  • While I don't have the precise knowledge to describe the rules around when or how, nor the time to check with those who would know, basically: they do whenever they can, and it's typically a very exciting phase of play if that occurs. The thing is that they more usualy have to go through up to five opposing players' bodies to do so, because "coming in from the side" is effectively against the rules. – Nij Jun 19 '16 at 9:09
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    You need to look up what a "ruck" is – Niall Jun 20 '16 at 20:21
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    Simply... the photo is showing a ruck.. which means no defending team is allowed to get the ball unless they go through the ruck and only use their feet to 'ruck' the ball. no hands allowed. The ref typically will inform the defending team that a ruck has formed – aqwert Aug 22 '17 at 23:18
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    To answerers: perhaps since it is a ruck, and he didn't note it in the question, you should better clarify what those are and how they happen, if indeed they alter the loose ball rules – JeopardyTempest Aug 23 '17 at 5:57

The tackler can and often does pick up the ball. The person that is tackled must release the ball behind them. Once they release the ball they may pick the ball up and get up with it.

Once the tacklee lays down and set the ball they form their "side". The tackler must be on his side before he can return to grab the ball.

I played wing for large university outside of football season - and have also broken this rule 20+ times so I have an understanding of it.

When I tackled another wing in the open field they would lay down, set the ball behind them, while I am jumping over them or going around them to be on side, and then it is a fight to get the ball first. Often they would get the ball again. If I did get the ball in that situation it would often lead to score or big gain. If I didn't get the ball after the tackle, the other wing picks it up and is retackled but at that point there is reinforcement and ruck follows.

And in most cases me or the other wing is going to get cleated and kicked as the guys working the scrum have quite the disdain for wingers. I mention the wing position because this kind of play happens most in the open field where wings would get the ball. Normally in more congested part of the field a player is tackled, set the ball behind them and then a teammate picks it up while stepping over them.

  • Thanks for your input! So my question is, looking at a picture like this: encrypted-tbn2.gstatic.com/… , why isn't the blue team trying to go for the ball? – StackOverflowed Jun 21 '16 at 16:41
  • That is a totally different question. That is a question about how you are allowed to engage the ball on defense once a ruck is formed. So the green team has established control, formed a ruck, why isn't blue going after ball. First there are many styles of rugby and I believe this scenario has varying rules. The 1-1 tackle situation is easy. Here I believe that blue cannot go after the ball until it breaks the outside of the ruck or unless blue player goes through the ruck. – Coach-D Jun 21 '16 at 16:54
  • The ball-carrier is not required to release it behind them; they must place it and release it but this can be in any direction they choose. – Nij Jun 22 '16 at 10:35
  • @Nij - Right - I was unclear on that. They release behind to create a side. If they release in front the defender would just pick up the ball and run. – Coach-D Jun 22 '16 at 15:51
  • @ Coach-D I was more concerned that this is what allows tries to be scored despite being tackled outside the in-goal area, if and when the questioner or others see this occur, it would cause some confusion. – Nij Jun 22 '16 at 22:19

In the picture, green has control of the ball in the ruck. If the ball comes out (passes the foot of the last green man) then the blue team can engage if they are coming from an onside position. The onside line for them would be the foot of the last blue man in the ruck.

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