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The Accidental Offside Law That Has New Zealand Fans Up In Arms

British & Irish Lions Tour To New Zealand 2017 3rd Test, Eden Park, Auckland, New Zealand 8/7/2017 New Zealand All Blacks vs British & Irish Lions Lions' Owen Farrell speaks with referee Romain Poite before he awarded an accidental offside Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/James Crombie

Roman Poite awarded a penalty to the All Blacks for offside late in this morning’s pulsating 15-15 draw in Auckland’s Eden Park.

After a short review, he and the other officials decided to downgrade it to a scrum after adjudging Ken Owens to have been offside accidentally. What could have been an extremely kickable penalty, even if Beauden Barrett wasn’t at the top of his game from the tee, ended up resulting in a Lions turnover from the scrum.

Watch the controversial incident below.

The exact law on accidental offside is sometimes misunderstood. From the official law book, here in full is the description of incidents such as this where there has been a knock-on.

“When a player knocks on and an offside team-mate next plays the ball, the offside player is liable to sanction if playing the ball prevented an opponent from gaining an advantage.”

That wording certainly gives some foundation to suggestions Poite has got it wrong. There’s no doubt the hooker was offside and he must surely be deemed to be preventing New Zealand from gaining an advantage and so, as the rule states, is liable to sanction. A penalty probably should have been awarded.

Here is Law 11.7, which is what Poite has eventually ruled on.

“When an offside player cannot avoid being touched by the ball or by a team-mate carrying it, the player is accidentally offside. If the player’s team gains no advantage from this, play continues. If the player’s team gains an advantage, a scrum is formed with the opposing team throwing in the ball.”

Kiwi fans and even Lions supporters are reaching a consensus on Twitter that the officials have gotten this potentially series-deciding decision wrong.

The tourists couldn’t capitalise on the break and surrendered possession soon later. The hosts went for the try that would win the series in the corner but the Lions defence remained resolute and the game ended in a draw.

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Author: The PA Team

This article was written by a member of The PA Team.