So I was watching the old Ireland tour in New Zealand from 2022. I noticed an interesting play that got called as a simple knock on but I think it may have been more.

The scenario is- All Black player knocks the ball forward in contact and All Black player beside him. Intentionally catches the forward knock on.

I feel like the ruling would be that the player who caught the knock on is it an offside position because they are ahead of the player to last had the ball on his team and intentionally playing a ball in an offside position is a penalty.

I believe this was a huge discrepancy at the last World Cup when this very situation happened in the game between Australia and Scotland, and essentially lost Scotland the game because of this missed call.


2 Answers 2


If it is an accidental knock-on by the first player, the second player cannot be offside. The sanction is a scrum only.

Law 10 Offside, part 3:

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

If it is a deliberate knock-on or throw-forward by the first player, the second player is irrelevant, because the opposing team should choose the penalty with an extra metre or more distance in their favour, especially over a scrum.

Law 10 Offside, part 4:

Sanction: The non-offending team can choose either:

i. Penalty at the place of infringement; or

ii. Scrum where the offending team last played the ball.

versus Law 11 Knock-on or Throw forward, part 4:

A player must not intentionally knock the ball forward with hand or arm. Sanction: Penalty.

  • Are you sure? I'm sure I've seen a penalty given after a player knocks it on but a team-mate standing in front of them unwittingly catches the ball. The receiver would already been in front at the point it's knocked on, of course.
    – komodosp
    Aug 15, 2023 at 23:52

Yes, an offside player who intentionally catches knock forward ball by his team mate should be penalised. The key would here is 'intentionally' - that is, they had an option to play the ball or not and they chose to play the ball. They are penalised as they have, in effect, taken away the advantage of the defending team from gaining possession of the ball.

If the offside player comes in contact with the ball unintentionally, the ruling would be for a knock-on to the defending team (i.e. first infringement applies). [This is moot, of course, as restarting the game for either an unintentional offside and a knock forward is a scrum to the defending team]

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