World Rugby ends the ‘Counterpillar’

·1-min read

Saracens started it, others followed, and now World Rugby has moved to end the manoeuvre involving bound players in the ruck moving past the offside line in defence.

The Counterpillar, as commentator Nick Mullins termed it, involved defensive players joining a ruck a la Caterpillar, but then moving round the side of the ruck to get closer to the scrum-half and not being offside by dint of still being bound to the ruck.


The manoeuvre has been decreed unlawful by the game’s governing body less than a month after it was first used, although an official sanction has not yet been announced for it.

“Adding players to your own side of the ruck, in order to advance closer to the opposition side of the ruck squeezes the space available and compromises the clearance of the ball from the ruck,” said a world Rugby spokesperson, quoted by the Western Mail.

“These actions should be discouraged.

“If a player is fully bound and they have moved beyond the offside line then they must return to be behind the hindmost foot before being able to be involved in play, once the ball is out or is played from the ruck.”

The clarification did not mention a sanction for use of the manoeuvre, but presumably it would be dealt with as an offside and result in a penalty to the attacking team.

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