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

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

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!

Tweet Full Time Scores!

This weekend the TRRA is launching the new Twitter campaign. Finally the Texas rugby community will be able to get live match results in one location @trrareferee. In order for this to be successful we need all referees to do their part. We need 100% buy in.

What we need you to do…..

  1. Grab your cell phone
  2. Sign up on Twitter if you have not already.
  3. Follow Texas Rugby Referee. . You can enter @trrareferee in the search bar.
  4. At the end of your match grab your phone
  5. Tweet the score and a picture of yourself, your AR’s (if you have them) and the winning team captain.
  6. Add #trrareferee to your post. This is an important step.
  7. Again add #trrareferee to your post……………Click here to see how hash tags work.
  8. Sit back, relax and know that you are awesome.

We certainly appreciate your support. If you have any issues with this please reach out before Saturday so I can help you through the process

Scott Green

World Rugby Clarification 8 of 2015 – Law Reference 3 – Sevens Variations

Clarification in Law by the Designated Members of Rugby Committee
Clarification 8 – 2015
Union Paddy O’Brien – HP Sevens Referee Manager
Law Reference 3 – Sevens Variations
Date December 8, 2015
Request: Paddy O’Brien has requested clarification on the minimum number of players needed to start a sevens match.
Clarification of the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee
The designated members have agreed that in exceptional circumstances a Union may authorise matches to be played with fewer than seven players in each team. When that happens, all the Laws of the Game apply except that each team must have a minimum of five players on the pitch (at least three players in the scrum at all times and a minimum of two backs).

World Rugby Law Clarifications 2015 – Law 3

The latest Clarification is attached. It addresses yet another iteration of the “what if” involved in front row replacements and is pretty clear. Please distribute to teams, unions, conferences and referees in your area.

150909 CL Law Clarification 6 2015 Front Row replacements [PDF]

Feel free to write me with any questions.

All the best,

Peter Watson
Chair, Law Committee

Fall Season!

11816988_10206222337289691_8374140377960767887_nWe are looking forward to an exciting Fall Season. With over 150 matches scheduled we wanted to send out a few reminders:

As per World Rugby’s Focus Areas leading to the 2015 World Cup, the following should be applied:

  1. Tackle/Ruck/Maul:
    1. Players must wrap with arms when entering/joining
    2. Nothing around the neck area: grabbing, choking, etc. – this is serious and the player runs the risk of a Yellow/Red Card
  2.  Tackle:
    1. Unacceptable tackler rolling:
    2. Into the opposition scrum half
    3. Slowly
    4. No arriving players may have their hands on the ground over/beyond the ball to protect/turn over possession
  3. Obstruction Running:
    1. If the dummy runner runs in front of the ball/ball carrier and makes contact with a defender: PK
    2. If a dummy runner runs in front of the ball/ball carrier and does not interfere with defenders, play on
    3. If defenders deliberately initiate unnecessary contact, play on
  4. Unsportsmanlike Behavior:
    1. Coaches/Players abusing match officials will not be accepted – Coaches see GMG 2015 regarding referee abuse
    2. Unsportsmanlike behavior: Players acting/diving to gain PK’s will be sanctioned

Please review the USA Rugby Referees’ Focus Areas Video: