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England frustrated by Italy's refusal to contest ruck

England trailed Italy 10-5 at half-time of Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash at Twickenham.

The hosts were seeking a 17th successive Test win, but seemed perplexed over the offside law in particular.

At 5-0 with 30 minutes elapsed, England's frustration at Italy refusing to contest the ruck - meaning no offside line is formed - grew.

Flanker James Haskell asked referee Romain Poite: "What do we need to do to make it a ruck?"

The official replied: "I can't say. I am a referee, not a coach."

The chaos caused confusion for Eddie Jones' men, who, for once, were outsmarted.

The relevant World Rugby rules state:

16.1 Forming a ruck

(a) Where can a ruck take place. A ruck can take place only in the field of play.

(b) How can a ruck form. Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball must be on the ground. If the ball is off the ground for any reason, the ruck is not formed.

16.5 Offside at the ruck

(a) The offside line. There are two offside lines parallel to the goal lines, one for each team. Each offside line runs through the hindmost foot of the hindmost player in the ruck. If the hindmost foot of the hindmost player is on or behind the goal line, the offside line for the defending team is the goal line.

That means: if there is no ruck, there is no offside.

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