Ball Carrier Hurdling Tackler Guideline

USA RugbyWe have been asked many times if this is Dangerous Play. This is not specified in Law 10.4, and the question cannot be answered with a simple yes or no because there are so many possible variations on the situation.

The short answer is that sometimes it is dangerous and other times it is not, depending on the circumstances. Each play must be judged on its own merit by the referee. Here are some factors to consider when viewing this sort of play:

  1. Dangerous Play is not restricted to the specific actions listed in 10.4. That is a list of many of the most common occurrences of Dangerous Play, but the fact that an action isn’t listed does not mean the referee cannot penalize for something deemed dangerous when seen in a game. Here are some actions that aren’t listed in 10.4, but which definitely could be called dangerous:
    1. biting an opponent
    2. spitting on an opponent
    3. punching a teammate
  2. There is general agreement that if the defender is directly in front of the ball carrier and standing in a normal tackling position, and the ball carrier goes over the defender like clearing the high hurdles, this is dangerous. There are two reasons:
      1. It is dangerous to the opponent because that action brings boots into close proximity of a players face/head.
      2. It is dangerous to the ball carrier because if the defender manages to make contact while attempting to tackle, the ball carrier could get flipped and land on his head/neck.
      3. Also remember that there are many examples that could be called “hurdling” that are just fine and we see them in almost every game:
        1. Jumping over a player who is lying on the ground
        2. Jumping to avoid the outstretched arms of a diving tackle attempt from the side.


    In conclusion, if it is hurdling a standing (or crouched) defender directly in front of the ball carrier, it is dangerous. If it is something from paragraph three it is most likely fine. For the middle range, the referee needs to judge based on what is presented at the moment.


    Richard Every
    High Performance Referee Manager

September 2016 – USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

USA RugbyThe New Game Management Guidelines, September 2016, are here: USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines – September 2016

Below are some key focus areas for match officials:

  1. Establish Behavior:
    1. Lineout:
      1. Set up & maintain a large gap (allows more room for the throw)
      2. Defensive hooker in position in the 5m area
      3. Manage numbers
      4. Sack has to be immediate
    2. Maul:
      1. Correct formation – handing the ball to a player that is not bound who then joins the maul is obstruction
      2. Ball carrier may not slide to the back – obstruction
      3. Players may not join in front of the ball carrier
      4. Defenders not to swim/slide up the side
      5. Do not allow collapsing or defenders falling to the ground to stop a driving maul
    3. Tackle:
      1. Set your standards early, rather than debate:
        1. Tacklers not rolling should be penalized early
        2. Tackler assist has to clearly release and join through the gate
        3. The key to refereeing the tackle well is positioning – work to be on the attacking side, 45º, north/south body position
    4. Space:
      1. Manage offside lines
      2. Hands on ground have to be behind the offside line
      3. Kicks in general play – offside players may not move forward – referee to instruct them to “stop”. Look across the field on both sides
    5. Scrum:
      1. Teams to form the scrum within 30 seconds: FK
      2. Three calls, three actions
      3. Ensure both teams are stationary before proceeding to the next call
      4. Props to bind on their opponents body on the side or back, not under the body or on the arm
      5. Wait for the scrum to be square and stationary before instructing the scrum half to put the ball in
      6. If the scrum is stationary (3-5s) and the ball is available to be played, instruct the scrum half to “use it”
    6. Foul Play:
      1. Do not debate foul play, put the onus on the players to keep it clean
  2. Advantage:
      1. Set standards early rather than playing excessive advantage
      2. Remember that a Penalty Kick has major benefits to a team, I.e. Kick for touch 30m+, kick at goal, etc.
      3. Do not referee advantage like you do in Sevens
  3. Referee abuse:
    1. Verbal abuse by team coaches, team staff or team substitutes directed at match officials or players should not be tolerated and the following process should be followed:
      1. The referee will ask the identified person to refrain from their behavior
      2. On the second occasion the referee will EJECT the person from the grounds
      3. Zero tolerance approach should be applied and if the person refuses to leave the referee should request that team’s captain to assist
      4. Failing compliance the referee may abandon the match
      5. The referee must restart the game according to the latest stoppage and must NOT award a penalty due to the sideline behavior
    2. It is essential that we, as a community, stand together and work together to develop rugby in the United States. It will be through mutual respect and support that we grow the game. As referees, we need to ensure that we follow the above process regarding abuse as to eliminate it from the game.

NOTE: If time expires and a team is awarded a PK, they may kick to touch to end the game, but they do not get to take the lineout. That was a trial Law approved by World Rugby for PRO Rugby and Super Rugby only.

If you have any questions or need clarifications please feel free to contact me.


RICHARD EVERY  |  High Performance Referee Manager

World Rugby Law Clarification 2 – Injury from Foul Play

World-Rugby-Laws-of-the-GamePlease review the second clarification from World Rugby this year. It addresses some specifics regarding the new section of Law 3.14 (Substituted Players Rejoining a Match – injured as a result of foul play). The clarification is very straightforward, but please write to me if you have any questions.

2016 Law Clarification 2 Injury from Foul Play

Peter Watson
Chair, USA Rugby Law Committee


7s Rolling Substitutions – New Law Variation

usa_rugby_logoWorld Rugby is trialing a variation regarding substitutions in sevens. The USA Rugby Committee has approved the use of this Variation in all domestic competitions effective June 18, 2016.

The exact wording is copied below, but in essence it allows a player to return to the game after having been substituted off. The team is still restricted to a total of five substitutions during the game. [This includes any extra time – there are no additional substitutes permitted during additional playing time.]

The Exception that allows a replacement for a player with a blood injury remains, even after a team has made all five of its allowed substitutions.

The Law that allows a temporary replacement for head injury assessment (which is referenced in this Variation) IS NOT APPROVED FOR DOMESTIC USE.

Peter Watson
Chair, USA Rugby Law sub-committee


3.4 Players nominated as substitutes

  • A team may nominate up to five replacements/substitutes.
  • A team may substitute or replace up to five players.
  • A team may substitute the same player more than once as long as no more than 5 substitutions are made in total. See 3.13 for exception

3.13 Substituted players rejoining the match

If a player is substituted, that player may return to play in that match under the following circumstances:

  • Up to 5 tactical substitutions per game
  • In addition to which players may return to play when replacing:
    • a player with a blood injury in accordance with Law 3.11
    •  a player undertaking a Head Injury Assessment in accordance with Law 3.12. NOT IN EFFECT FOR DOMESTIC COMPETITIONS

Update to Match Change Process

Please note that we have made an adjustment to the match change request. In the past you would contact your divisional rep and the TRU Admin. While this was effective, it unfortunately did create quite a bit of work as not all information was always available. To cut down on the back and forth, we’ve created an Add/Change/Drop Form.

With this form we can more effectively track changes to see patterns and be more efficient.

Changes within 14 days

Note that changes that are within 14 days of the event will incur a $50 fee. Every effort is made to assign referees weeks out and when teams make requests to add, change or drop a match this is a major inconvenience for all parties involved. If your match change request falls within 14 days, payment will need to be made FIRST and then the change will be processed.

Note that this fee will be applied to all teams that utilize the TRRA. Any attempts to circumvent this by alerting a referee of a match change but not using this form will be referred to the appropriate authority to determine if sanctions should be applied.

Add/Change/Drop Form

Coaches are Not to Approach Referee at Half-time

Note that this policy has been adopted by the TRRA!


Under no circumstances are team coaches allowed to approach the referee at half-time.

If they do, you ask them to convey all questions through their captain, but you absolutely do not discuss anything with the coach at half-time. If the coach persists the referee will EJECT the coach from the grounds. Zero tolerance approach should be applied and if the person refuses to leave the referee should request that team’s captain to assist. Failing compliance the referee may abandon the match.

RICHARD EVERY | USA Rugby High Performance Referee Manager

2016 USA Rugby Game Management Guidelines

USA RugbyPlease review the newly released Game Management Guidelines from USA Rugby for 2016. Though the material is developed for referees, it is applicable to all stakeholders of the game including players and coaches. Please download the file and read through the updates:

2016 Game Management Guidelines

Also available are the Protective Equipment and Clothing Guidelines:

Protective Equipment and Clothing Guidelines

Reminders for High School Season!

Rugby TexasKurt Weaver, Director of Youth & High School Rugby provided these reminders for the high school season. We know you have heard this before, but it bears reminding as we have seen some matches played missing required items. Please let us know if you have questions around any item and enjoy your rugby.

  1. Medical Coverage is required for all HS matches in the USA, friendly and league play. Rugby Texas specifically requires a licensed trainer (LT). NOTE: Referee should not start match until medical is present.
  2. Technical Zones are required for all HS league matches in the USA. (see the TZ requirements at Referee should not start match until TZ’s are present and in use and both teams are on the same side of the field)
  3. Squeeze Ball is illegal for all HS and Youth rugby.
  4. Fends to the head/neck/face are illegal for HS and Youth rugby. A legal fend used to be allowed if done correctly, but any contact with the head/neck/face is now liable for penalty.

Thank you for your consideration and enjoy the spring season!

World Rugby Law Changes to Take Effect Feb 1, 2016

These changes are effective as of February 1, 2016 for the Northern Hemisphere, this includes all matches played in the TRU or as RRRC league matches.

Law 3 – Number of Players

3.5, which addresses the number of players who are capable of playing in the front row, and how their number affects the total number of players a team may use has been re-written for better clarity with no substantive changes. The part of this section which covers uncontested scrums has been split and now is a separate section (3.6). All the subsequent sections have been re-numbered.

3.12, which covers substituted players rejoining the match (now re-numbered to 3.14) has had one additional condition added. In addition to front row replacement, blood injury replacement and (in Elite games with WR permission) temporary replacement for Head Injury Assessment, a substituted player may be used to replace a player who was injured as a result of Foul Play (as verified by the Match Officials).

Law 4 – Player Clothing (Clarification)

Player jerseys must have sleeves that extend at least half way from the point of the shoulder to the elbow.

Law 5 – Time (Clarification)

In the last year there were a couple of Clarifications regarding what happens when there is a score very close to the end of the half or the game. Those have been incorporated into Law [5.7 (g) and (h)]. In essence, if the the conversion kick is taken (or the try awarded and the team chooses not to take the conversion per 9.B.2) before time expires, the next restart will happen even if time expires between the kick and when the players are prepared to restart. And, if a restart is taken under these circumstances with time expired, and the kick is taken incorrectly (e.g. not ten, etc.), the referee will offer the options in Law 13.

Law 6 – The Referee’s Authority

6.C, which covers persons coming onto the pitch to treat injured players has been re-written to make distinction between qualified and unqualified medical staff. Sub-sections 2 and 3 have been combined into one.

Law 8 – Advantage

The section listing situations where advantage cannot be played (8.3) has seen collapsed scrums removed. The referee now has the option of playing advantage if he feels players are not endangered. The referee DOES NOT have the option of playing advantage if the front row is lifted.

Law 9 – Scoring

In the 7s Variations, the time the kicker has to take the conversion after a try is now thirty seconds from the time the try is awarded.

Law 10 – Foul Play

Unfair Play – 10.2. A new provision has been added. “A player must not commit any act that may lead the match officials to consider that that player was subject to foul play or any other type of infringement committed by an opponent.” Penalty Kick Section 10.3 (b) – Repeated Infringements. The last sentence has been removed. The referee is no longer constrained in how a second repeat offender is handled.

Law 12 – Throw Forward

The definition has been slightly re-written for clarity with regard to “towards the dead ball line.” The definition has also been augmented to include the Clarifications regarding balls being knocked or ripped out of the ball carrier’s hands by a defender.

Law 17 – Maul

This isn’t a Law change, but rather some guidance on the application. The ball in a maul may be moved backwards hand-to-hand. A player is not allowed to move/slide to the back of the maul when that player is in possession of the ball.

Law 19 – Lineout

19.4 (b), which addresses the ball being knocked-on into touch has been revised to also include thrown-forward into touch (which was already part of 12.1). (Clarification)

The section addressing blocking the throw-in has been re-written so that it applies to all players (not just lineout players). 19.10 (h)

Law 20 – Scrum

There is now a specific time on the “no delay in forming a scrum”. Free kick after thirty seconds. 20.1 (d)

Front rows coming together has been slightly re-written to require the players be “ear to ear”. 20.1 (f)

Ending the scrum now includes a “use it” provision once the ball is at the last player’s feet and is not moving forward. 20.10 (d)

A scrum that has wheeled past 180 is no longer a turnover. The original team throws in again. 20.11 (b)

The scrum half of the team not in possession must now stay out of the pocket. 20.12 (c)

Law 21 – Penalty and Free Kicks

All penalty and free kicks that are awarded close to the goal line are to be given five meters out, regardless of the team (no longer just the attacking team’s penalties). 21.2 (a)

Additional Resources

151007 LRG Minor Law amendment – AGREED[5]

151007 LRG Clarifications into Law – AGREED[2]

Why I Became a Rugby Referee

Thirty players on one pitch, all managed by one whistle…sounds daunting, right? Not as much as you’d think, being a rugby referee means you have the best seat in the house! The TRRA is hosting the countries first ever women’s only Level 1 Referee Course (sponsored by Try on Rugby) this weekend in Houston. Along with USA Rugby’s support, the TRRA looks to increase the number of certified active female referees in Texas. Two women will earn a spot at a USA training camp during the iRB Women’s 7s series in Atlanta 7s.

Before the unprecedented event this weekend, TRRA asked some female veteran referees and newly certified referees what led them to pick up the whistle:

Jacque ‘Jac’ Harrell – C3 (College Station, TX)

Jacque Harrell - TRRA Rugby RefereeBeing a referee was never part of the plan, I just wanted to be a better player. Someone told me the best way to learn a sport is to be a referee of it. I figured it was a quick way to learn the rules, so I took a course at the summit in August from Traci Young. She was an amazing instructor with an incredible amount of patience and passion for the game.  She walked us through a game and we even had the chance to practice with a real scrimmage.

A few weeks later I was the center ref at a collegiate tournament. I’m a 27 year old that discovered I was scared of blowing a whistle. Luckily, Wendy and Traci Young were on the side to help me through it. They kept it upbeat and talked me through the game from the side with no ridicule. If they hadn’t of been there I might not of been a ref again after that game. I’m still reffing because I feel I still have so much more to learn about the game and there really is no better seat than right there on the pitch.

Meredith Frasier - TRRA Rugby RefereeMeredith Frasier – C3 (Houston, TX)

At first I became a referee so I could become more knowledgeable about the laws, and maybe free up a higher level referee or two for women’s matches by taking a few lower level or friendly matches. Help spread one of the lesser seen burdens of a sport that’s gaining popularity quickly across more shoulders. After all, without a referee its hard to play a match. Also, at 29 I also realize that the number of years my body will be able to and family life allow me to continue playing with my team competitively are unfortunately decreasing. Refereeing gives me the option to continue on in another capacity with the sport I love.

My favorite part is the scrums. From start to finish refereeing the scrum is my favorite especially at the Senior men’s match. There is something about being right there with a few thousand pounds of men intently listening to getting ready to engage that makes me feel like I could do anything. That doesn’t mean scrums are not tricky to referee and that I take them lightly! I am a lock so I get to taste the energy without my head being squished.

A piece of advice: Don’t let your first few matches define the experience for you. After the weekend of my first two, I wanted to quit. Since I was committed to another tournament the next weekend I put off the decision, and worked hard on the referee skills that were the weakest to prepare. Now, I am so glad I stood by my commitment and didn’t give up, because I would have cheated myself out of something that I not only enjoy but out of an awesome community as well.

Traci Young – C1 (Austin, TX)

Traci Schmidtke Young - TRRA Rugby RefereeI became a certified referee in 2008. I was still playing at the time, so I couldn’t ref full-time, but I wanted to help out the college women teams as they usually got the bottom of the barrel or no referee. I refereed my first game at Corpus Christi 7s By the Sea and I was surprised at how fun it actually was and that I really wasn’t that bad.

A few years later, I was coming to the end of my playing career; however, I still had that competitive drive. I soon realized that being a referee was the next chapter in my rugby career. The TRRA was my new team and my teammates were now spread across the state. Being a referee requires me to stay physically fit and challenges me mentally. Refereeing brought new challenges as well as adventures. I have had the opportunity to referee the High School Girls National Championships, in-goal for the iRB Women’s 7s series and center the TRU Division II Championships.

Wendy Young – C1 (Austin, TX)

Wendy Young - TRRA Rugby RefereeI took my Level 1 course in 2007 in a room full of men. I was expecting that my teammate and I would be the only females at the course, but was surprised that we were the only ones under 35. After the course I received my first Acme Thunderer whistle, yellow and red cards and a small iRB ready booklet. A few weeks later I accepted an assignment and stepped out on the pitch to referee a collegiate women’s game and was hooked.

Looking back now, I became a referee because I wanted to learn the laws, stay fit and give back to the game. At the time I was still playing competitive rugby and eventually retired in 2011 to become a full-time referee. If you’re searching for competition after hanging up your boots, refereeing has that as well. There is competition for appointments, fitness testing, law knowledge and advancement.

Looking back, I would never have imagined how much I would love it or the opportunities I’ve had and hopefully will continue to experience. My highlights would be AR/IG at the iRB (now World Rugby) Women’s 7s Series, multiple USA Appointments in 7s & 15s and refereeing the RRRC Men’s DI Club decider between the Austin Blacks and Dallas Reds last year (both final four contenders in the USA Rugby Men’s Club National Championships).