TRRA Youth Referees Shine at Brazoria

This past weekend, the Texas Rugby Referee Association was honored to supply the referee team for the Brazoria Spartans Youth Rugby Tournament held in Alvin, TX. This event was entirely officiated by U-19 referees, shining a spotlight on the young talent that USA Rugby has in the referee pool.

19 total youth referees descended on the suburb of Houston, TX, including six traveling cross-country on exchange from the Potomac Referee Society of the Mid-Atlantic. Ages of the youth referees ranged from 11-19, with many referees officiating players who were older than them on the day.

The tournament boasted 42 total matches – a mix of 7’s, 10’s, and 15’s – with age groups from 3/4th minis, to Middle School and High School. One of the day’s highlights included High School Boy’s Varsity sides competing in a round robin, of which 6 referees were able to officiate. 4 of the 6 had never before refereed at that level. TRRA Member Peyton Olivas (14) was one of those 4 [pictured below, left].

5 of the youth referees were brand new to officiating, having taken the L1 Referee Course only a week earlier in Houston. Texas Rugby Referee Association Vice-Chair Tim O’Gara was the educator for that course and the referee manager on the day. Colleagues reported, “Tim worked tirelessly to make this event happen. His passion for the number of youth referees to grow and for the kids to have the experience and support so many of us missed out on was palpable. This event was phenomenally run and officiated, and Tim was the cornerstone to making this happen”.

The youth referees were supported outstandingly by a skilled team of referee coaches, coming from all over the country and internationally to volunteer to coach the next generation. Fernando Garcia (Mexico) [pictured below, far right] and Phil Klevorick (Back10Pros) were an invaluable addition to the coaching crew.

The TRRA youth referees in attendance are now all eligible for selection to an exchange to Potomac Referee Society in late July, in an effort to grow the ties between referees both within a region, and cross-country.

This event would not have been possible without the support of the Katy Barbarians, West Houston Lions Rugby Club, Rugby Texas, Potomac Referee Society, Houston Youth Rugby Association, Lost Afternoon Rugby Luncheon, Woodlands Youth Rugby, Back10Pros, The US Rugby Foundation, and the Texas Rugby Referee Association.

Special thanks to the organizational efforts by Ken Fraine (Potomac) and Tim O’Gara (TRRA) who put the pieces together for an amazing weekend.

Photos by Macune CCS

2017 Global Law Trial Webinar

The recording of the 2017 Global Law Trial Webinar is up and available here for you to view, along with the video clips from the presentation and the PDF of the power point. You will also find a video from World Rugby and High Performance Referee Manager Alain Rolland covering all the new laws in effect for competitions this fall. Enjoy..



Level 1 Officiating 15s – June 17 in Austin, TX

Level 1 Officiating 15s
Saturday, June 17, 2017 (8:00 AM – 5:00 PM)
Comfort Suites Austin Airport
7501 E Ben White Blvd
Austin, TX  78741
: Hosted by: Texas Rugby Referee Association
Pre-course Registration Requirements.  Students must complete the following World Rugby online modules available at the World Rugby Passport website.  First, register with WR on their Passport website that you will access with the noted links.  After completing each module, download the certificate you will receive from WR and email it to where it will be uploaded into your USA Rugby member profile.  The three WR modules to be completed in order to register for this course are:


World Rugby Global Law Variations 7s – Effective March 1

The Rugby Committee has approved the use of the following World Rugby Global Law trials for seven a side rugby tournaments played in the USA and leading to a USA National Championship. These trials are to go into effect in the USA as of March 1st, 2017. World Rugby have approved their use in domestic 7s tournaments in the USA.

The original trial start date would have put the adoption of these trial laws into effect in the middle of our National 7s tournaments, and rather than change laws mid-stream we have opted to bring the law changes in early and operate the entire tournament set under the new laws.

Each of the law trials, and their specific law segment are listed below:

Law 5 Time

Add to 5.7(e) If a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the referee allows the throw-in to be taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.

Law 8 Advantage

Add to 8.1(a) When there are multiple penalty infringements by the same team, the referee may allow the captain of the non-offending team to choose the most advantageous of the penalty marks.

Law 9 Method of Scoring

9.A.1 (points values)

Penalty Try. If a player would probably have scored a try but for foul play by an opponent, a penalty try is awarded. No conversion is attempted.

Value: 7 points

Law 19 Touch and Lineout

• A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball.

If a player jumps and knocks the ball back into the playing area (or if that player catches the ball and throws it back into the playing area) before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, play continues regardless of whether the ball reaches the plane of touch.

If the ball-carrier reaches the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area without first landing in touch, play continues.

If the ball has passed the plane of touch when it is caught, then the catcher is not deemed to have taken the ball into touch. If the ball has not passed the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up, then the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary.

Sevens specific variations

Law 5 Time

Finals should last no longer than seven minutes each half (rationale is player welfare – the evidence shows that a disproportionate number of injuries take place in the second half of finals. Injuries per minute are higher in the second half of finals as opposed to the first half and throughout normal matches of seven minutes each way.)

Law 13 Kick off and Restarts

The restart kick must be taken within 30 seconds of a penalty kick or dropped goal being attempted where the kick is successful or goes dead. FK

Law 19 Touch and Lineout

Teams must form a lineout within 15 seconds from the time the referee indicates the place where the throw-in will take place. FK

Law 15 Scrum

Teams must be ready to form a scrum within 15 seconds from the time the referee indicates the mark of the scrum. FK

Law 21 Penalty and Free Kicks

A penalty or free-kick must be taken within 30 seconds of being awarded.

REMINDER: Head Injury Assessment (HIA) NOT Allowed

A quick reminder, the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) is NOT an option for rugby athletes competing in any domestic competition in the United States.

Clubs, colleges, and high school teams must still practice USA Rugby’s five Rs – Recognize, Remove, Refer, Recover, and Return – in terms of suspected concussions, keeping athletes safe with precautionary measures.



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

More Spring Promotions!

It has been a great year so far. 15s only has 2 weeks left and then we move into 7s season. Please let Wendy know if you are interested in participating in any of the upcoming 7s tournaments throughout the state.

With out further ado, the following announcement will be posted on our social media outlets asap:

The Referee Advancement and Training Organization (RATO) of the Texas Rugby Referee Association is honored to announce the following promotions effective immediately:

To C1
Theo Van Wyk
Mark Hughen
Doug Corrigan

To C2
Kelly Hodge
Cole Jones
Shon Husband
Craig Geaslen

To C3
Kate Jewett-Williams
Robert Hays
Vincent Fellone
Travis Bartniski

Please congratulate these outstanding referees for their superior performance and dedication to striving for the next level. Our sincere thanks to every referee in the association. . Without you, the matches do not happen. More promotions coming in the near future.