All Blacks nil wrote:As it stands, the only way a non tackling defender can poach the ball is by coming through the gate. By doing so the opposition will react and will invariably instigate a ruck and an offside line is created.The tackler can poach the ball by regaining his feet and playing the ball before the ruck is formed. That too will provoke a reaction.
An offside line has to be defined otherwise as Italy showed and you have said, defenders can stand wherever they want. Their inaction provides for a stalemate. As I said previously what is to stop a scrumhalf from leaving the ball there?. It is open play, therefore a ref cannot call "use it", the opposition can only play it as described above.
Simple solution is to define an offside line for open play.
If you are ahead of the ball you must be seen to make an effort to retreat onside, behind the ball i.e you can not stand around in front of the ball and if you are behind the ball you must remain their until you either come through the gate or the ball is played.
The problem with defining an offside line at the tackle is that if a player makes a break in general play and is tackled by e.g. their full back - it puts the entire defending team offside so even if the tackled player pops the ball to a supporting runner nobody could touch him - there would be no way to defend.
They did trial this during the ELV's and it was dropped because the unintended consequences made the game unplayable.
The answer isn't to change the laws - as a tactic it is incredibly risky. I would say Italy just hoped to mess with England's heads at the start and reckoned they would get 10 mins out of it. The fact that they got 40 is because nobody in the English team worked out that all they have to do is (a) pick and go or SH break, or (b) much quicker recycle and pop and go which doesn't give time for the defence to get in position or (c) first receiver come much flatter and effectively pass in front of the defender standing in the way which effectively bypasses the defender.
England's problem was that they wanted to play to a rigid game plan and execute set moves / shapes. So when they couldn't do plan A they fell to pieces. That was O'Shea's bit of genius - to realise that England as a team can't think on their feet and to exploit that. And they have a problem now because you have to imagine the Scots are thinking about what unusual shape or use of rules they can use to confuse the likes of Hartley. Won't be the same one - but bet they do something to put England off their plan