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During the England Vs Australia rugby union international on 18th November 2017 at Twickenham, Michael Hooper scored a try for Australia that was disallowed due to him being offside. According to the BBC's Guide to the offside law...

A player is offside if he is in front of a team-mate who last played the ball AND they actively try to play the ball

When Tevita Kuridrani kicked the ball forward ("played the ball") then Hooper was clearly offside as he was ahead of the kicker, however, he did not play this ball! When Marika Koroibete did play the ball, Hooper was behind him and hence in an onside position.

So, was Hooper offside? A video of the try can be found here

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I believe the match officials decision is correct under a strict interpretation of the 10-metre law, 11.4(a), since in the video you link to Hooper appears to continue running forwards, rather than attempting to move back behind a line ten metres from the (onside) opposition players until another player puts him onside by moving in front of him. This is certainly an unlucky decision to go against the team though, and it would have been understandable if it had gone the other way.

  • Indeed, he was offside and never put onside again. However, giving the try would have made no sense, and gone against the point of an offside law, it's not understandable at all. – Nij Nov 21 '17 at 1:59
  • Interesting, Hooper did definitely slow down, but he never went behind the original kicker nor was there ever more than 10 meters between him and the ball so I think you are correct. Curious, had he gone behind the kicker would he then be onside or does the 10 meter rule mean he would still be offside and if so, what happens when they are closer to the try-line than 10 meters? Surely he cant be expected to run back behind a 10 meter line? – Kevin Anthony Oppegaard Rose Nov 21 '17 at 10:54
  • @KevinAnthonyOppegaardRose Any onside player can put another player onside by moving past them while they retire, not just the original kicker (law 11.4b). Players aren't necessarily expected to get the full ten metres before this happens, but they do need to be seen to make an effort to get back onside, rather than simply waiting around for play to catch up with them. – origimbo Nov 21 '17 at 11:01
  • @origimbo hmmm, so why was Hooper offside? He clearly slowed his run until he was onside before speeding up again. This is the confusion I am having. – Kevin Anthony Oppegaard Rose Nov 22 '17 at 9:29
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    @KevinAnthonyOppegaardRose because slowing his run isn't the same thing as turning around and walking back towards his own try line. The relevant bit of the law says "(b) While moving away, the offside player cannot be put onside by any action of the opposing team. However, before the player has moved the full 10 metres, the player can be put onside by any onside team-mate who runs in front of the player." and unlike, say, deciding whether a pass was forward, there's not strictly meant to be leeway for momentum. – origimbo Nov 22 '17 at 10:59
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In relation to your question on the offside ruling against Michael Hooper, it was a correct (albeit tough) call.

My analysis is as follows:

  1. In general play, a player if offside if he’s in front of a team-mate who last played the ball.

  2. Under Law 11.1(c), when a team-mate of an offside player kicks ahead, the offside player must not move forward until the player has been put onside.

  3. Under Law 11.2(c), when the kicker or team-mate who was onside runs in front of the offside player, the player is put onside. However, the offside player cannot be put onside if he has already moved forward.

  4. In this case, MH was offside when TK kicked ahead.

  5. MH put his hands in the air to acknowledge he was offside but kept moving forward.

  6. MK was behind TK so onside when he gave chase.

  7. MK quickly ran past MH which would have put MH onside if he had stopped moving forward as soon as TK kicked.

  8. Unfortunately, there was a short period before MK run past him where MH kept moving ahead.

  9. This was the basis for offside ruling and the try being disallowed.

  10. To add extra confusion, there was some comment in the media to the effect that MK had kicked the ball which put MH back onside.

  11. This is not relevant as the offside player in this situation can’t be put back onside by his teammate.

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