IRB Ruling 2 of 2012 – Quick Throw-ins and Time


IRB Ruling 2 of 2012

This addresses quick throw-ins and the question of whether or not the ball is “dead”. The specifics are regarding the return of a player from the sin bin, and the decision is that the referee may allow a quick throw even if there is a player waiting to return from the bin (with the suspension time expired).

I’ll point out that this is consistent with last month’s application of Law video (clip # 2) addressing offside players at quick throw-ins. In essence, what is said is that the ball isn’t really dead until the option of a quick throw is no longer available.
Enforcement of current Law:

Peter Watson
Chair, USA Rugby Law Committee

IRB Law Changes – Summer 2012


There are some Law changes that just came out (and I am sure most have seen something about them). Below are some explanatory comments.

Peter Watson
Chair, USA Rugby Laws sub-committee

2012 IRB Law Changes
May 2012

This week the IRB issued a number of small changes in Law. Implementation dates vary – some go into effect now and others at the start of the next Fifteens season (September 1 or thereabouts). The exact wording of the new Laws is in the attached document.

These changes are on a Trial Basis. After some practical experience has been accumulated, the IRB will be soliciting Union opinions.

Effective immediately (actually went in last January 1)

Law 1 – The Ground
The two lines that delineate the beginning and end of lineouts – the five meter line and the fifteen meter line – are now to be dashed lines. Formerly they were dotted.

Effective June 1, 2012

Sevens Variations
Law 3.4 – Number of Players
A team may now nominate up to five replacements/substitutes and may use all of them.

Effective at or around June 1, 2012

Law 4.2 – Special additional items of clothing for women

Female players may wear cotton blend long tights with single inside leg seam under their shorts and socks.
This is pretty clear…if you are not female, don’t wear tights. Please do not ask me the rationale for this as I am not a mind-reader.

Law 4.3 – Studs
In Law 4.4, single-toe replaceable studs are prohibited. The IRB has approved, on a trial basis, one particular configuration of single-toe studs. It is shown in the attached document. All other forms are still illegal.

Law 9.B.1 – Taking a Conversion Kick
When a try is scored, the scoring team now has one and a half minutes (90 seconds) FROM THE TIME THE TRY IS SCORED to take the conversion. This is playing time, so if there is an injured player who has to be treated or removed before the kick, time is off.

Law 12.1 – Outcome of a Knock-on or Throw Forward
If the ball is knocked-on or thrown forward into touch, the non-offending team may choose the lineout (where it crossed the touch line) or the scrum (where the knock occurred). If they take a quick throw-in, they have made their choice.
And someone has already asked about knocks that go into touch-in-goal (or across the dead ball line). That situation is covered by Law 12.1 (c) and this change is not applicable in that case.

Law 16.7 – Unsuccessful End to a Ruck
This puts a “use it or lose it” requirement on rucks. Once the ball is clearly won and available to be played, the referee will call “use it” after which the ball must be played within five seconds. If not, it is a turnover – scrum to the other team.

Law 19.2 – Quick Throw-In
This change alters where a quick throw can be taken. Currently a quick throw can be taken anywhere from the place the ball crossed the touch line back to the thrower’s goal line. The change allows a quick throw to be taken anywhere from the place of the lineout back to the thrower’s goal line. The gap that used to exist if the ball was kicked out on the fly from in front of the 22 is now gone. [I suspect this will have a bigger impact in Sevens than it will in Fifteens, but not this summer.]

Law 20.1 – Scrum Engagement
This is the biggie….a change to the process:
Referee says “crouch” and the teams crouch (or remain crouched if already down).
Referee says “touch” and the four props reach out and touch and then withdraw their arms.
When the referee is satisfied that the front rows appear ready to engage AND ARE STABLE, the referee says “set”. The front rows may then come together when ready. This is not a command. It is permission.

Law 21.4 – Penalty and Free Kick Options and Requirements
This change is only for free kicks and penalty kicks awarded at lineouts. A team that is awarded a kick may choose to have a lineout instead of the kick. And of course they may also choose a scrum in lieu of the kick.

Changes for selected International Competitions. These are not for implementation at the local level.

Law 3.4 – Players Nominated as Substitutes
A Union may nominate up to eight replacements/substitutes.
[The USA is already doing this per the provision in Law 3.14.]

Law 6.A.6 (b) – Referee Consulting with Others
This expands the use of the TMO.
And here are some videos that may help:

Further to my letter of last week on the IRB Council decision regarding law amendment trails and law clarifications.

We are pleased to provide the following links which may help in the dissemination of the message:

Law Amendment Trials:

Enforcement of current Law:

Five Key areas of Refereeing:

2012 Changes with explanations

120517 CL COU SM AM12 Council Decisions – Laws

IRB Law Updates for next cycle

Laws of the Game
TMOs set to get increased power
ESPN Staff
May 15, 2012
French Rugby union Federation (FFR) president Bernard Lapasset speaks during a press conference in Paris, 08 october 2007. Argentina's advance to a first World Cup semi-final was recognised 08 October when Pumas pair Felipe Contempomi and Juan Martin Hernandez were announced as two of the five nominees for the 2007 IRB Player of the Year award.
IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset insists the sport’s stakeholders have a collective responsibility to ensure rugby is “enjoyable to play, officiate and watch” © Getty Images

Television match officials are set to be handed increased powers and teams are to be give five seconds to us the ball at rucks as part of an extensive trial of Law amendments sanctioned by the International Rugby Board.

Currently TMOs can only be called upon to rule on the act of scoring but as of next season they will also be allowed to offer input on incidents within the field of play that have led to the scoring of a try, and foul play on the field of play.

In addition, the IRB has acted to limit the amount of time that the ball is available at the back of a ruck and from August in the northern hemisphere and January in the southern hemisphere, teams will have five seconds to use possession after being instructed to do so by the referee.

The changes are among five proposed Law amendments and three additional trials to adopted globally having been endorsed by the IRB Council at its annual meeting in Dublin on Tuesday.

They will also see the rules governing the taking of a quick throw-in will also be altered. Players will be able to take a quick throw-in from anywhere outside the field of play between the line of touch and their own goal line, while if an opponent knocks-on into touch the non-offending side can choose a line-out as opposed to the standard scrum.

Conversions will have to be taken within 90 seconds of a try being awarded, and should foul play or a technical offence take place at a line-out then the non-offending side can opt to have a further line-out on their own throw.

Then there are the three additional trials, including the expansion of the TMO’s role. The November Test window will also see international sides allowed to select eight replacements, bringing them in line with domestic competition where an extra front-row substitute is named on the bench.

The final additional trial will be to allow Sevens teams to use up to five replacements during a match as the result of the demands and expansion of the Sevens World Series.

The amendment process was the first steered by an independent Laws Representative Group, made up of representatives from each of the 10 tier one unions and the IRB Rugby Committee. Extensive evaluations of the amendments took place at Cambridge and Stellenbosch Universities earlier this year.

One further amendment, regarding the problem area of the scrum, has been referred to the specialist Scrum Steering Group. The current ‘crouch, touch, pause, engage’ sequence of setting a scrum has come in for heavy criticism, and the group will consider a change to a ‘crouch, touch, set’ sequence that would allow the respective front rows to set the scrum.

IRB chairman Bernard Lapasset said: “We have a collective responsibility to ensure that the Game is as enjoyable to play, officiate and watch as possible at every level while player welfare is of paramount importance.

“Rugby is currently in good health with participation growing around the world, but there is collective responsibility to ensure that a structured process can be implemented to allow for global analysis and to monitor trends relating to the shape and character of the Game as it evolves.

“The Laws Representative Group were encouraged by the outcomes of the initial trials in Cambridge and Stellenbosch. The next step is a global trial with full buy-in and which has been approved by council on the basis that the amendments can have a positive effect on the playing of the game. The global trials are not fait accompli. It is essential at the end of the global trial process that decisions made are in the best interest of rugby worldwide.”

The five Law amendments to be trialled globally are:

1. Law 16.7 (Ruck): The ball has to be used within five seconds of it being made available at the back of a ruck with a warning from the referee to “use it”. Sanction – Scrum.

2. 19.2 (b) (Quick Throw-In) For a quick throw in, the player may be anywhere outside the field of play between the line of touch and the player’s goal line.

3. 19.4 (who throws in) When the ball goes into touch from a knock-on, the non-offending team will be offered the choice of a lineout at the point the ball crossed the touch line; or a scrum at the place of the knock-on. The non-offending team may exercise this option by taking a quick throw-in.

4. 21.4 Penalty and free kick options and requirements: Lineout alternative. A team awarded a penalty or a free kick at a lineout may choose a further lineout, they throw in. This is in addition to the scrum option.

5. A conversion kick must be completed within one minute 30 seconds from the time that a try has been awarded.

In addition to the global trials, the IRB Council approved three specific additional trials:

1. A trial to extend the jurisdiction of the TMO to incidents within the field of play that have led to the scoring of a try and foul play in the field of play to take place at an appropriate elite competition in order that a protocol can be developed for the November 2012 Tests.

2. A trial has been sanctioned for the November 2012 Test window permitting international teams to nominate up to eight replacements in the match day squad for Test matches. In line with current practice at domestic elite Rugby level, the additional player must be a qualified front row player.

3. An amendment to Law 3.4 (Sevens Variation) to enable Sevens teams to nominate up to five replacements/substitutes. Under the revision, which will operate from June 1 2012, a team may substitute or replace up to five players during a match. Approval has been granted on player welfare grounds to recognise the additional demands on players and squads owing to the expansion of the HSBC Sevens World Series where there are three blocks of three events on consecutive weekends.

TRRA Continuing Education for Referees #2 – Points from a Free Kick

Welcome to another edition of an example of a ref situation. This will be a weekly (or often) post that will cover interpretations of laws from TRRA examples. We will use the TRU Facebook Page as a way to discuss and unify our refereeing in Texas. This week we wanted to cover “Points from a Free Kick”.

Red player is awarded a free kick.  Red player taps the ball through the mark with his/her foot and then proceeds to kick a drop goal.  Drop goal is made.  Points awarded?

Red player is awarded a free kick.  Red captain elects a scrum.  Red scrumhalf passes the ball to Red #10 who kicks a drop goal.  Drop goal is made.  Points awarded?


(a) A goal cannot be scored from a free kick.
(b) The team awarded a free kick cannot score a dropped goal until after the ball next becomes dead, or until after an opponent has played or touched it, or has tackled the ball carrier. This restriction applies also to a scrum taken instead of a free kick.

NOTE: the last sentence…. This restriction applies also to a scrum taken instead of a free kick.

To view all of the Q&As that we have covered, go here.

TRRA Continuing Education for Referees #1 – Not Releasing

After a great weekend of rugby, Texas Rugby Referee RATO group decided to start a weekly (or often) post that will cover interpretations of laws from TRRA examples. We will use the TRU Facebook Page as a way to discuss and unify our refereeing in Texas. This week we wanted to cover “Not Releasing”.

Example: Red player was brought to ground, but was not held by the Blue Player. Red player did not release the ball and continued play. Referee penalized Red player for Not Releasing.

What would you have done in this situation? Allowed play or penalized?


The key language in the description is that the Red player was “not held” by the tackler. Since they were not held, they do not have to release the ball and may get up and continue play.  As referees our goal is to have continuous play, with promotion towards quick ball. We should work hard to quickly determine if a player has been held and/or tackled.  The definition of Law 15 makes this clear: “A tackle occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground. A ball carrier who is not held is not a tackled player and a tackle has not taken place.”

2011 IRB Law Rulings

Dear Referee Organization Chairs,

The IRB has issued three Rulings within the last week. Please distribute this to all Unions, clubs, Local Referee Organizations and referees in your area. Here is a synopsis or read below.

Please feel free to write or call if you have any questions.

Peter Watson
Chair USA Rugby Law Committee

2011 IRB Law Rulings

2011 IRB Ruling # 1 (June)

Front Row Replacements 13.12 (b)

This Ruling addresses the questions raised when some or all front replacements have been used and further front row replacements are needed due to injury. The question was framed in terms of non-contested scrums, although the answer goes beyond just that circumstance.

When a front row player has to be replaced:
· If there is a front row reserve that has not been used, he must be used even if this causes the referee to order non-contested scrums.
· If all the front row reserves have been used, but there is a front row player who was substituted out (tactical change) still available, that player must be used rather than any other player even if the referee has to order non-contested scrums.
This addresses the situation where the front row reserve available is not trained for that particular position (e.g. the second hooker is injured and the remaining reserves are only trained to prop). The IRB is saying that it is better to have a player with front row experience, even in non-contested scrums, than some other player.

2011 IRB Ruling # 2 (November)

Going to ground in a maul – Law 17

This Ruling addresses the rights and responsibilities of players in a maul when the player in possession of the ball goes to ground voluntarily.

BE SURE THERE IS A MAUL. Recognize the difference between a true maul and a “standing tackle” situation.

Before getting into the details, there are four points which must be emphasized:

  • Referees must be sure the player with the ball went to ground by choice. Collapsing a maul is not an acceptable way to achieve a turnover.
  • This does not produce a tackle situation and Tackle Law should not be applied.
  • A player going to ground with the ball does not automatically turn the maul into a ruck. A ruck happens only if the requirements for a ruck are met – ball is on (touching) the ground and players are on their feet over it in physical contact.

When a player in possession goes to ground and the ball has touched the ground (and the other ruck requirements have been met), Ruck Law applies and all players must release the ball and refrain from handling it, and if on the ground they must move away.

When a player in possession goes to ground in a maul and the ball has not touched the ground, the ball must be made available immediately [17.6 (g)]. Otherwise a scrum or a penalty is awarded depending on the actions of the players.

  • The player in possession has the right to TRY to go to ground with the ball. This right is not guaranteed without restriction, but is affected by the circumstances.
  • The opponents have an equal right to try to keep the player with the ball up, and/or to try to take the ball away.
  • Once the ball carrier is on the ground (“kneeling or sitting” as stated in the Ruling), things change. The player in possession is no longer legally part of the maul. [Definition of Maul]
  • The player with the ball now has an obligation to make the ball immediately available if able to do so. [17.2 (d)]
  • But an opponent who is holding the ball doesn’t have to let go. So if that’s the case, the ball carrier must release or face sanctions.
  • There is no obligation to roll away (unless a ruck forms).

So if a player with the ball goes to ground and a ruck does not form, the ball must be out immediately. The onus is on the player who is on the ground to make the ball available.

The key decision points for the referee are:

  • Was the maul collapsed illegally?
  • Did the ball touch the ground, forming a ruck?
  • If not a ruck, is the ball immediately available?
  • If not, is there fault or was it simply the circumstances?

2011 IRB Ruling # 3 (November)

Offside under the 10-meter Law – 11.4

This Ruling addresses how the offside status of teammates of the kicker is changed by a charge-down or other type of play by the receiving team.

When a ball that was kicked in open play is touched or played by an opponent, the act of playing or touching it (willfully) puts offside teammates of the kicker onside [11.3(c)] EXCEPT a player who is offside under the 10-meter Law [11.4]. There is an exception which says that a charge-down puts all of the kicker’s teammates onside including those within ten meters [11.4(f)].

The question and the response in essence come down to one thing – was it a charge-down or was it simply a touching/playing of the ball. That is what the referee needs to determine when the ball is kicked and then touches or is played by an opponent.

The first part of the Ruling expands on and clarifies what was a somewhat murky definition of a charge-down:


This is a little clearer than what is in the Law Book in that it restricts a charge-down to “close quarters”.

2011 IRB Ruling # 4 (November)

Ball lost forward as a result of actions by an opponent.

This question asked about situations where an opponent “rips” the ball from a ball carrier. There were scenarios offered that looked at the ball coming out and going in a couple of different directions. The answer was expansive enough to cover other actions such as punching the ball out of a ball carrier’s grasp.

The IRB’s response is a significant change from what has been fairly common practice both in the US and around the world, which was to hold the ball carrier responsible for maintaining possession. The decision of knock-on or not a knock-on was made solely with respect to the ball carrier and the direction the ball went in (towards or away from the opponent’s dead ball line).

As a result of this Ruling, referees need to determine if the ball came out of the ball carrier’s grasp by an action of an opponent. If the opponent caused the ball to come out, then the knock-on or not a knock-on responsibility falls on the opponent of the ball carrier. Please note that this action must be the direct cause of the ball coming loose. A ball carrier who loses the ball forward when he/she hits the ground has still committed a knock-on.


Peter Watson
USA Rugby Law Committee

Reffing 7s – Guidelines and Reminders

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are currently experiencing an explosion in demand for well refereed and well run Sevens tournaments. As we prepare for the inaugural USA Rugby Collegiate 7s Championship, we have an opportunity to set the standard for future Collegiate 7s Championships. Now that the 2011 XVs season is over, it is time to put on our Sevens hats, so repeat after me . . .

SETTING STANDARDS EARLY – Because there are only have 14 minutes in each match, it is vital we set our stall from the beginning. Nobody – Players or referees – has time to warm up. Be ready mentally and physically to fire up and enforce standards at that first tackle and that first set piece.

KEEP THE BALL IN PLAY AS LONG AS LEGALLY POSSIBLE – Sevens is all about continuous play and as referees we need to do our best to accommodate this ? quick throw ins, quick penalty taps, etc. This does NOT mean overlooking infractions or lowering standards, but requires us to work even harder to manage situations first, and look for ways not to blow penalties instead of looking for ways to blow the whistle. Keep up with play and be sure to – get there – so we can use our presence as a further deterrent to negative or destructive play.

STRAIGHTEN OUT OUR RUNNING LINES – Play develops much more quickly in Sevens so it is important that we get to the breakdown quickly. Running around in arcs and diagonally across the pitch can lose valuable time in getting to the tackle/ruck. When the attacking side is advancing up the pitch, try and run parallel to the touchline and THEN slide over to the breakdown. Put yourself in a position to see the ball FIRST, then go through your sequence (tackler, ball carrier, arriving players) and make an accurate decision quickly, play on, penalty or unplayable. Being too deep on the defensive line or in the saddle position will lose you valuable seconds.

WORK AS A TEAM – Sevens is all about tournament play, as opposed to XVs, which is usually a single match. Work in concert with your fellow referees, matching standards as much as humanly possible, and agreeing on application of laws that will send a consistent message to all of the teams. Help and support each other on and off the pitch.

Paddy Mac
National Sevens Referee Manager
USA Rugby
Cell 323-899-2471

IRB Clarification: Law 17.6(g) – Ball carrier in a maul

Posted by IRB Laws on November 24th, 2011

“Law 17.6(g) says: “If the ball carrier in a maul goes to ground, including being on one or both knees or sitting, the referee orders a scrum unless the ball is immediately available.”


Often situations arise in the game when a ball carrier in a maul (especially when the maul consists of only 3 or 4 players) goes to ground with an opponent remaining on his feet with his arms wrapped around the ball. ARU asks the following questions:

a) Does the opponent on his feet need to release the ball carrier given that this is a collapsed maul and not a tackle?

b) Does the ball carrier have to release the ball to the opponent on his feet? Law 17.6 (g) indicates a scrum unless the ball is immediately available but places no obligation on the ball carrier to make it available by releasing it.

c) When a maul collapses, is there any obligation on players to roll away from the ball in order to make the ball available?

d) When a maul collapses, are players who go to ground able to interfere with the ball as it is being made available while they are still off their feet? If not, what is the sanction and what is the basis in Law?”

Clarification of the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee

Questions (a), (b) and (c) relate to questions of Law and (d) relates more to the application of Law.
There is a further variable to be taken into account when the ball goes to ground at a collapsed maul and there are players from both sides on their feet bound over the ball so that Law 16 – Ruck becomes applicable.

(a) If a maul collapses and the ball does not touch the ground the player on his feet is not obliged to release the ball or ball carrier unless the ball touches the ground and a ruck is formed.
111104 LW Clarification 2 : 2011 Page 2 of 2

(b) The original ball carrier who goes to ground (knee or sitting) who can play the ball must do so immediately and the referee then has a judgement to make:

i. When the ball carrier goes to ground and the ball is unplayable (i.e. the ball is not available immediately), through no fault of the ball carrier, then the referee awards a scrum as per 17.6(g).

ii. When the ball carrier goes to ground and that player fails to make the ball available the sanction is a penalty kick to the opposition as per 17.2(d)

(c) At a collapsed maul there is no obligation in Law for players to roll away unless a ruck subsequently occurs.

(d) If this occurs Law 17 has not been applied because the ball has not been made available immediately and the referee should have stopped the game and awarded a scrum or a penalty sanction dependent on the actions of players before.

111123 DC IRB Law Clarification 2 2011 [DOWNLOAD]