Law Question: Offside for scrum halves at the scrum

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on May 19th, 2012

20.12 (e) Offside for scrum halves.


If the defending scrum half does not follow the ball after it has been put into the scrum, is the scrum half allowed to move laterally across the field in a line behind the hindmost foot of the defending end of the scrum (his own #8’s feet)? Which means the scrum half does not have to be 5 meters back with the non scrum participating players? 2011 Law Book page 145. Also referred to in the USA Game Management page 7 – scrum D.3.


This is best broken down into two parts. The defending scrum half must start in one of two places:

  1. next to the scrum half putting the ball in or
  2. behind the offside line for players not taking part in the scrum (i.e. back 5m)

If they start behind the offside line then they must stay behind that line until the scrum is over (as for all other players not participating in the scrum). If they start next to the scrum half then once the ball is won the scrum half of the team that didn’t win the ball has two offside line that are applicable to them:

  1. if they stay the same side of the scrum in front of the ball is the offside line (20.12C)
  2. they may retire to the rear of the scrum (hindmost foot) but not advance around the other side of the scrum (20.12D). They have a new offside line at the hindmost foot and may roam the pitch behind that offside line (20.12E) (In essence, between the non-participating players 5m back and the hindmost foot).

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