Law Clarification Request regarding players in touch
The rugbyrefs.com members seek clarification of Law 19 in relation to the ball being in touch when it is played by a player in the air. The only law reference is:-
If a player jumps and catches the ball, both feet must land in the playing area otherwise the ball is in touch or touch-in-goal.
(1) Does it matter where the player jumps from?
(2) Does catching assume he holds on until he lands?
(3) If he plays the ball other than by catching it (eg tap down, as is done at a lineout) does it make a difference?
If the answer to (1) is No, then:-
(A) if a player jumps from in Touch, plays the ball after it has crossed the plane of touch, but manages to land in the playing area, the ball is not deemed to have been in touch
(B) if a player jumps from the field of play and catches the ball before it broke the plane of touch, and then lands in touch, still holding it, the ball is in touch. Was he responsible for putting it there, or was he deemed to have been in touch from the moment he left the ground?
(C) if a player jumps from the playing area, catches and passes the ball, or taps it infield, before it breaks the plane of touch, and then lands in touch, is the ball in touch?
If the answer to (1) is Yes, then defining the player as in touch according to the spot immediately below him when he plays the ball means all the other criteria in the Definitions can be directly applied. To avoid complications with outstretched arms etc the Definition could say: "A player in the air is not in touch if his torso is entirely over the playing area; he becomes in touch when his torso breaks the plane of touch."
A further point arises from use of the word "crossed":
A player in touch may kick or knock the ball, but not hold it, provided it has not crossed the plane of touch.