28 Oct 2019
We have a question which suits an incident in the Rugby World Cup semifinal between South Africa and Wales in Yokohama on Sunday.
The question comes from Louis Boizard.
Question: When opposition kick the ball, I catch the ball with my body in the air and I land outside the sideline, who gets the throw in?
The incident which illustrates the question and indeed may have given rise to the question was in the 26th minute of Sunday's match.
Handré Pollard of South Africa kicks high and long towards the touchline on his right. Josh Adams, the Welsh left wing, jumps in the field of play, catches the ball and lands in touch. The assistant referee awards the lineout to South Africa. The referee agrees with the decision.
The law makes it clear that the assistant referee was right in his decision.
There is an import definition to keep in mind when you read the laws, especially Law 18.1 b ii. It is a definition of the plane of touch.
Plane of touch: The vertical space rising immediately above the touch line or touch-in-goal line.
Law 18 TOUCH OR TOUCH-IN-GOAL
1. The ball is in touch or touch-in-goal when:
a. The ball or ball-carrier touches the touchline, touch-in-goal line or anything beyond.
b. A player, who is already touching the touchline, touch-in-goal line or anything beyond, catches or holds the ball.
i. If the ball has reached the plane of touch when it is caught, the catcher is not deemed to have taken the ball into touch.
ii. If the ball has not reached the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up, the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary.
2. The ball is not in touch or touch-in-goal if:
a. The ball reaches the plane of touch but is caught, knocked or kicked by a player who is in the playing area.
b. A player jumps, from within or outside the playing area, and catches the ball, and then lands in the playing area, regardless of whether the ball reached the plane of touch.
c. A player jumps from the playing area and knocks (or catches and releases) the ball back into the playing area, before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, regardless of whether the ball reached the plane of touch.
d. A player, who is in touch, kicks or knocks the ball, but does not hold it, provided it has not reached the plane of touch.
To answer Louis's question it is important to know where the ball was when he caught it. If the ball had not reached the plane of touch, i.e. was in the air above the field of play, when Louis caught it, it was the opposition's ball. If it had been above the plane of touch or beyond it, it would be Louis's team's ball.
Clearly from the replay, the ball had not reached the plane of touch when Adams caught it and his jump then carried it into touch.
The assistant referee was right.
It makes sense really. Adams's leap prevented the ball from any chance of falling in the field of play.
Ask the duty referee
Duty Ref 563: AJ Jacobs
Duty Ref 562: AJ Jacobs
Duty Ref 561: SA Referees Department
Duty Ref 560: SA Referees Department
Duty Ref 559: Aimee Barrett-Theron
Duty Ref 558: Adriaan Jacobs
Duty Ref 557: Marius van der Westhuizen
Duty Ref 556: Jaco Peyper
Duty Ref 555: Old Mountain Goat
Duty Ref 554: Marius van der Westhuizen