Leinster’s Champions Cup final defeat to Saracens highlighted the “glaring problem" of offsides in rugby right now, according to Alan Quinlan.
Ex-Munster, Lions and Ireland star Quinlan was on Monday’s OTB AM to analyse Saracens success at St. James’ Park and noted that the lack of enforcement of offsides around the ruck hindered the development of attacking, free-flowing rugby during the game.
“I just can't believe how this stuff isn't being picked up more. It's happening in every match. Leinster were doing it, Saracens were doing it.”
“If you have a ruck and there's a line across the field and it's a gain-line, if you have guys standing over that they are obviously going to get out to the attack quicker.
“If they have to go back a yard and they can’t sprint off the line really quickly then that gives the opposition a chance to play and put it through the hands and maybe we will see some more attacking rugby and not all these collisions around the breakline.”
While it may be easy to notice watching on TV or up in the stands, it is difficult for a referee to police in real-time and the idea of a second referee to watch offsides should be considered, according to Quinlan.
“I think it's something that really needs to change”, the former back-row said.
“It just means that even on the one-out carriers, as they are getting the ball the defence is right on top of them and it is collision and collision.”
“If that defence is back a yard and they can’t sprint off the line even if there is a flat line and a load of numbers there I can now pick a target. I can maybe try and go between two defenders or I can put a bit of evasion on.”
And Quinlan suggested that it's not just the play that is being infringed on either. He also explained that constant offside breaks are leading to quicker collisions, with attacking players having less time to prepare themselves for the tackle and survey their surroundings.
Therefore, the lack of enforcement on offsides is harming player welfare and increasing the risk of injuries and concussions..
“Leinster were trying to run out of their own ‘22’ and Saracens were just - it was phenomenal how offside they were at times. And they were dead right I would do the exact same thing", said Quinlan.
“But Sexton got hit two or three times and this could prevent some of the injuries. And it wasn’t just Saracens, Leinster were offside too.”