Rugby fans sat shocked as Italy dominated the opening twenty minutes of their Six Nations encounter with England in Twickenham.
Not only did Eddie Jones’ side start slowly, but they appeared to struggle with the laws of the game as the Italians disengaged at ruck time, thus erasing the offside line.
Law 16.1 states that a ruck is formed when “at least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent” on the ground. Therefore, after the tackler rolls away and no Italian player joins the breakdown, a ruck is not formed.
In turn, if a ruck has not been formed, the Italian players cannot be offside as law 16.5 states “Each offside line runs through the hindmost foot of the hindmost player in the ruck”.
Therefore without an invisible offside being drawn on the pitch, the Italian players are well within their rights to stream through and interfere with Danny Care at the base.
This is a strategy that has been employed by a number of Super Rugby sides last season, and one which David Pocock took advantage of against Ireland last autumn.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
On this week’s Oval Office Podcast, Rob Henderson tells us about Ireland’s 12 potential Lions, Paddy Butler identifies weaknesses in the French game plan, Mako Vunipola discusses the challenge of facing Tadhg Furlong and historian David Toms relives Ireland’s 2007 clash with England in Croke Park.