Observed in this video here, Italy were repeatedly allowed to pass the offside line and enter England's backfield. Rarely does a team do this in any other game, even if it is a "tackle-only" as the referee repeatedly calls out.

What rules allow Italy to do this?

As a side note, the referee states that there is a one metre offside line around the ruck. What rules cover this, and why is this restriction in place?

2 Answers 2


In the video you posted you can hear the referee shouting "just a tackle". In doing so he's telling the players that no ruck has been formed and hence there is no resulting offside line. (See Law 16)

A ruck is a phase of play where one or more players from each team, who are on their feet, in physical contact, close around the ball on the ground. Open play has ended.

However, there has been a tackle so, at that point, play is now governed by Law 15. This says that, after a tackle, players not involved in the tackle itself can only enter the tackle area though what is known "the gate". The term 'gate' is not defined in the laws but it is effectively shorthand for the following text in laws 15.6 (c), (d) & (g).

These say that any player getting involved in play in the tackle area must do so ...

... from behind the ball and from directly behind the tackled player or the tackler closest to those players’ goal line.

This is much easier to understand with a picture so have a look at last image 'the tackle gate' on World Rugby's page that explains the tackle.

The referee's comment about 1 meter is him explaining that if a player approaches close to the tackle area but does not do so through the appropriate 'gate' then they will breach part of Law 15.6. (Note that the laws do not mention 1m specifically, instead it's just a pragmatic rule of thumb for defining the tackle area.)


Italy did not form a ruck as defined in Law 16 of rugby union's Law of the Game. With no ruck there is no offside line.

There is no one-metre restriction around a ruck. The offside line is defined by the hindmost foot of the hindmost player for each team.

  • So where is the rule about the 1m around the ruck?
    – Edlothiad
    Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 11:04
  • There is no rule about 1 meter around the ruck. The ruck is formed when at least one player is touching the ball player with the ball who is on the floor and the ball is also on the floor. In the case of the Italy game, no ruck was formed, therefor no offside line was created. Commented Jun 9, 2017 at 12:03

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