Great Linespeed or off-side?

  • In the past week I have heard people commend the defence of Parramatta. Last night I heard Peter Sterling say that Isaac De Gois was the unsung hero because he was leading the side with their linespeed". Yet why is it that some teams can do this better than others? Possession, wrestling and controlling the ruck speed obviously help defences get set but are some "teams really that quicker than others when possession is relatively even and fatigue is not a factor? Or is linespeed really just a word to describe a player’s ability to get away with being off-side? Last week in the 2nd half when Mitchell Moses was hurried into kicking as De Gois rushed at him, thereby forcing a poor kick by Mitchell, it was said that it was a great effort by the defender yet he was clearly 2 metres in front of the referee when the dummy half was just picking up the ball - I recorded the game and was able to freeze the moment (I obviously have too much time on my hands). I’ve noticed that these kind of plays rarely go without penalty. Michael Ennis is another who will quite often get away with this. Obviously these players realise that Officials are only likely to penalise once, if at all, for this kind of play and they are thereby quite willing to risk it at various times during a game. It seems to me that referees are reluctant to penalise any team too much for being off-side after all it is rare to see more than 2 or 3 offside penalties a game despite there being 500 plus times when defences must make the effort to get back with the referee. Either that or it’s incredible discipline isn’t it, to be on-side perhaps 500 plus times a game yet only off side 2 or 3 times. Consistency is probably the key, referees letting both sides get away with some minor off-side play is fine. But are fans, and perhaps even referees, being conned by the media, players and coaches into believing that some teams and some players are simply better at maintaining a fast linespeed? And are we fans happy to see as few penalties as possible for being off-side? If not then where do we draw the line (pardon the pun) on off-side play? Is it okay to be a metre off-side? Is it okay for centres or wingers to be a metre or 2 off-side if they’re on the other side of the field? Should there be more penalties for “jumping” or moving up from the defensive line when the ball is being played? Do we even need to be clear on these issues or are we just happy to carry on in blissful ignorance and leave it to the discretion of the referee and touch judges and the belief that it all comes back to great “linespeed”?

  • Great analysis
    Two comments:

    1. I think refs go back about 11 or 12m to factor this in.
    2. If you cant beat em join em.

  • Well doubles,I relate it to the flat pass from dummy half,a lot of these are forward and go unnoticed,is it poor dicipline or the refs just letting the game flow??…

  • It is called inconsistency and is a feature of our referees performances. Have a look at some of the holding down penalties, and then watch a Melbourne storm game and try to justify why they are able to get away with tactics that see other sides penalised.

  • I would say refs are usually consistently inconsistent. So match to match it varies, but the guy you have generally refs both sides the same.

    I think it used to be a bigger issue when the refs would switch during games, that sides were saying they got used to one style then it would change on them. But there is now always one lead ref.

    For the Parra game, I actually felt the Tigers line speed was not so inferior to Parramatta. I think the refs allowed both sides to get off the mark quickly, and on telly, any wide shot appeared to allowed staggered defensive lines where clearly not all the players got back.

    We lost 8-0 but I felt Parra’s attack was under constant pressure, same as ours, just their halves were experienced enough to remain more level-headed and not overdo their plays. I think they only managed 2 line breaks all game, one of which they scored (bounced) off; don’t recall many (or any?) repeat sets. Parra managed to put 20 on both the Cowboys and Bulldogs; only Broncos kept them to a lower score than we did.

    Fitness also surely plays a big part, particularly keeping line speed up late in the game. I don’t doubt at all that there are certain players who set the tone for linespeed - Bryce Gibbs used to do it for us a lot.

  • Play the ball speed is so important and that is usually controlled not by the players but by the refs. Parra slowed our play the ball right down by all the usual tactics and for most of the game got away with it. In saying that we were not bad at it also and that is why we had a slow drab game, and I would imagine that is why both sides dropped so much ball, they simply got frustrated.

    We need a quick up tempo game, but we also have to learn how to play the grind because very few refs actually encourage a quick game.

  • They were constantly offside, although to be fair we were too. Maxwell did nothing about it all game. On the last tackle de gois would have been an obvious 2-3 ms offside every single time. I couldn’t believe nothing was done about it.

  • Banned

    People get away with off sides all the time. Linesmen not looking in the right place is part and parcel of the game. Also, forward passes are only to be called when there are line break opportunities.

  • The key to good linespeed is being dominant in the tackle as it has 2 effects. Slow play-the-ball & less defenders in the tackle. This allows defenses to get back and this is the major contributing factor to good linespeed.

    You are correct in calling players off-side for the charge-down. Unfotunately, referees are monitoring the play-the-ball on the 5th tackle to ensure attacking teams dont try and gain an advantage. The opposite is they dont monitor the off-side. The usually monitor off-side on the 2nd; 3rd & 4th tackle.

    Dont start me on forward passes… They havnt got a clue and players actually practise rolling the top hand over to give the effect of passing backwards. Dumb Dumbs the Referes are!!!

  • If the refs actually played the offside rule, rather than letting both teams stand 7m apart throughout the match it may have been a much more interesting and high scoring game instead of the snoozefest it was.

  • As mentioned the refs are inconsistent,it will be the same again this week against the Sharks.I watched the replay again and its true Parra were off side,another play i recall was that as soon as Moses was receiving the ball on the last he was getting tackled by the marker…now thats quick lines speed=off side more like it,yet Simona and Farah got pinged on a first tackle play on Parra’s line for the same offence.

  • Cronulla were standing in front of the ref all night without penalty against the Storm also so we may expect the same again on Saturday with in your face defence,our kickers need to be deeper,given protection or in a better position when kicking.
    Makes you wonder if the whole team stand in front the ref is there less chance of getting penalised ?

  • @Chevy:

    As mentioned the refs are inconsistent,it will be the same again this week against the Sharks.I watched the replay again and its true Parra were off side,another play i recall was that as soon as Moses was receiving the ball on the last he was getting tackled by the marker…now thats quick lines speed=off side more like it,yet Simona and Farah got pinged on a first tackle play on Parra’s line for the same offence.

    I didnt watch the replay, but was Simona’s Penalty the Ball Player stepping sideways to play the ball?

  • The referees have a very difficult job so I can understand them missing some things that occur in a game. But there is a very fine line between rushing off the defensive line and being off-side and I think referees aren’t penalising enough of those particular incidents where the player “jumps”. I also think outside backs get away with standing off-side way too much especially when defending their line. However I’m okay with guys standing a metre in front if the ref is 11m back. If refs were to start penalising these situations a bit more I’d be fine with it, maybe many wouldn’t.

  • The game highlights what I think the season ahead might bring. We will be competitive with our best team and when our young playmakers are on but we will struggle if we lose players in key positions.

    Really we had enough chances to win that game regardless of referring etc. just poor execution. Getting a bit more continuity with key playmakers and getting simona’s side involved a bit more will help

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