Date 11th November 2011

Request for Clarification from the ARU

“Law 11.4(f) states: “…The 10-metre Law applies if the ball touches or is played by an opponent but is not charged down.”

This section of Law does not appear to have been applied in any professional or international competition since it was introduced in 2009. It is current practice that if the ball is kicked and touched in flight by an opponent, we have seen refereed rule that any teammate of the kicker who is in front is now deemed onside.

ARU requests clarification on how this Law is to be applied. ARU has several concerns:

  1. This Law says “touches or is played”. Under the Definitions of the Game, ‘touched’ and ‘played’ mean exactly the same thing.
  2. The definition of “Charge Down” in Law 12 clearly indicates that the ball does NOT have to travel forward from the player charging down to be considered a charge down (stating that charge down “is not a knock-on even though the ball may go forward”). We question how Law 11.4 (f) can distinguish between the ball being touched in flight after being kicked and the ball being charged down if there is no such difference between the two.
  3. Even assuming it was argued that a charge down must travel forward (not supported in Law) this Law seems difficult to apply. If a ball ricochets off a player charging down an travels, for example, either in a perpendicular direction to the player charging down, or bobbles into the air and lands merely 2 metres behind the player charging down, the 10m Law would presumably apply and offside players (potentially an entire team) must retire 10m from where the ball lands or behind the kicker. This seems impractical to enforce and vastly at odds with current practice.

A good example of unworkability of this Law is RWC Game NZ v Tonga, at 12.45 first half. The ball is kicked by black 9, touched in flight by red 11, then played by red 5. Then black 2, who is within the 10m of where the ball was played by red 5, attempts to dive on the ball. Since a player inside the 10m cannot be put onside by the action of an opponent as per Law 11.5 (b), according to current Law this should be a PK to red.

Can the IRB clarify in which scenarios this Law is to be applied? If it is agreed that this sentence of Law is unworkable, we suggest simply removing it, as the remainder of Law 11.4 (f) covers the fact that the teammates of the


  1. The act of a charge down is one where an opposition player not in possession of the ball approaches a kicker at close quarters and makes an attempt to block the kick. In such circumstances players in front of the kicker who are within 10 metres of the kick are not liable to penalty wherever the ball lands.
  2. If the ball is not charged down but is played or touches an opposition player and a player from the kicker’s side is within the 10 metre area in front of the kick that player is liable to penalty in accordance with Law 10.4(f).

The deletion of 11.4(f) would require a Law amendment.