Match Officials Newsletter


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Upcoming Events

August 16 & 23 – Level 2 Officiating Course – Springield, LA and Mobile, AL. Contact Steve Parrill for more information and to register,
August 21 – Level 1 Coaching of Match Officials Course – Dallas, TX. Contact Ed Todd for more information and to register,
August 22nd – Level 1 Officiating Course – Seabring, FL. Contact Gerry Fitzgerald for more information and to register,

August 28, 29 & 30 – Level 3 Officiating Course – Boulder, CO. Contact Mike Malone for more information and to register,

August 29 & 30 – USA Rugby All-Star Sevens Championships – Randall’s Island, NYC

August 29 – Level 1 Officiating Course –
Malvern, PA. Contact Doug Syme for more information and to register,

August 29- Level 1 Officiating Course –
St. Louis, MO. Contact Eric Haug for more information and to register,

September 12 – Level 1 Officiating Course –
Santa Barbra, CA. Contact Mark Kottke for more information and to register,

September 12 – Level 1 Officiating Course –
Dallas, TX. Contact Joe Zevin for more information and to register,

September 12 – Level 1 Officiating Course –
San Marcos, TX. Contact Rich Prim for more information and to register,

September 19 & 20 – Level 2 Officiating Course – Vancouver, WA. Contact Jim Kautz for more information and to register,

September 26 & 27 – Level 2 Officiating Course – Cal State Long Beach. Contact Mark Kottke for more information and to register,

Check out the IRB’s Maul Working Group Guidelines:

Referee Resources

In This Issue…
• 2009/2010 National Panel Announcement
• IRB Law Ruling 5: Law 3.12 Substituted Players Rejoining the Match
• IRB Law Ruling 6: U-19 Variations- Law 20.1 (f)
• 2nd Annual Women’s Referee Development Camp
• IRB Referee Talent Identification Program Update
• Coach Development Program Seeks Workshop Hosts

2009/2010 National Panel Announcement
From the USA Rugby Referee Development Department.

BOULDER, Colo. – The USA Rugby Referee and Laws Selection Committee is proud to announce the 2009-2010 National Panel and National Focus Group appointments.

Aruna Ranaweera is promoted to the National Panel and joins Davey Ardrey, Paul Bretz, Ed Gardner, Chris Henshall, Tim Luscombe, Tom Lyons and Dana Teagarden. Chris Draper has retired from the National Panel, along with Simon Page, who now moves to the Directors Panel.

“Our gratitude goes out to both Chris and Simon for all they have done for USA Rugby. We know the time, effort and sacrifice it takes to referee at this level, and we wish them well in their future endeavors,” said USA Rugby Referees National Panel Manager Richard Every.

Joe Androvich and Marc Nelson are promoted to the Referees Focus Group for the 2009-2010 season and join returning members Gareth Morgan and Nick Ricono. Group members from the 2008-2009 season, Judah Boulet and Mitch Damm now return to their respective territorial panels, while Paul Bethe is currently injured and will be reviewed for reinstatement to the Focus Group upon his return to refereeing.

Simon Page, Phil Griffiths and Pete Smith move to the Directors Panel, among the likes of 2008-2009 appointees Graeme Bullen, Tom Coburn, Brad Kleiner, Jem McDowell, Richard Parker, Dave Peters and Mark Zetterberg. The National Directors Panel was created for the 2008-2009 season to allow match officials who have reached the highest level of their craft in the U.S. to continue to contribute on the field.

“Congratulations to the 2009-2010 referee panels and to all of their respective Local Area Unions and Territories. Thanks to their continued support, USA Rugby Referees are providing a steadily improving service to the game,” said USA Rugby Director of Referee Development Ed Todd.

For more information on the USA Rugby Referee panels, please contact Ed Todd at or visit

USA Rugby Referees National Panel
Davey Ardrey (Great Plains, West)
Paul Bretz (Northern California, Pacific)
Ed Gardner (South)
Chris Henshall (EPRU, MARFU)
Tim Luscombe (Eastern Rockies, West)
Tom Lyons (Potomac, MARFU)
*Aruna Ranaweera (Northern California, Pacific)
Dana Teagarden (Southern California)

USA Rugby Referees Focus Group
*Joe Androvich (Northern California, Pacific)
Gareth Morgan (Southeast, South)
*Marc Nelson (Eastern Rockies, West)
Nick Ricono (Southern California)

USA Rugby Referees Directors Panel
Graeme Bullen (Texas, West)
Tom Coburn (Eastern Rockies, West)
*Phil Griffiths (New England, Northeast)
Brad Kleiner (Met NY, Northeast)
Jem McDowell (Met NY, Northeast)
*Simon Page (Florida, South)
Richard Parker (New England, Northeast)
Dave Peters (Southern California)
*Pete Smith (Northern California, Pacific)
Mark Zetterberg (Pacific Northwest, Northwest)

*denotes new appointee for 2009-2010

IRB Law Law Ruling 5- Law 3.12 Substituted Players Rejoining the Match
From David Carrigy, IRB Head of External and Member Relations.

Request for a Ruling from the Designated Members from the RFU


Early in a match Team A replace their Tight Head Prop, due to injury, with their nominated prop forward replacement. Late in the match, the replacement prop forward collects a serious injury forcing him to leave the field. Team A, having used all their nominated substitutes, continue to play with 14 players.

When the first scrum after the injured prop leaves the field is awarded, and after consulting with the Captain of Team A, who confirms his side cannot replace their injured prop with a suitably trained and experienced prop forward, the referee orders uncontested scrums.

At this stage, Team A seek permission from the match officials for their substituted hooker to rejoin the match in an attempt to bring their playing numbers back to 15. The match officials refuse to allow the player to rejoin the match, which concludes with uncontested scrums and Team A playing with 14 players.

Were the officials correct in not permitting Team A the opportunity to bring their playing numbers up to 15?

Ruling of the Designated Members:

In this situation the team has used all its permitted replacements/substitutes. The purpose of Law 3.12 was to allow a player who has been substituted to return to the front row (in the event of an injury requiring a replacement front row player) to enable the game to continue with contested scrums.

In the situation described, uncontested scrums had been ordered and the team had utilized all its permitted replacements and substitutes and therefore the injured front row player should not be replaced.

Additionally, if uncontested scrums have been ordered and there is an injury to a front row player which requires that player to be replaced and there is a front row player available to replace that player then the front row player replacement must be used rather than players other than front row replacements.

IRB Law Ruling 6: U-19 Variations- Law 20.1(f)
From David Carrigy, IRB Head of External and Member Relations.

Ruling Request from ARU Under 19 Variations – Law 20 1 (f)

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) seeks a ruling in respect of the following matters relating to the Under 19 Variations to Law 20.1(f):

1. The U19 Law Variation refers to a team having fewer than eight players in its scrum when “…the team cannot field a complete team, or a player sent off for Foul Play, or a player leaves the field because of injury.” Does this Law Variation also apply if a player is cautioned and temporarily suspended (yellow card)?

2. The U19 law Variation refers to both teams using reduced numbers of players in the scrum formation if “…a team is incomplete…” because it is without one, two or three players. No distinction is made between forward players and back players. If a No. 15 is sent off early in a match, must both teams play with seven players in the scrum, even though both teams still have eight players suitably trained and capable of playing in the scrum?

3. If a team cannot field a complete team because it is short one or more forward player, but that team is able to provide from the available players suitably trained players to contest scrums, may the game proceed/continue with eight player scrums per team?

Ruling of the Designated Members

The complete team is a reference to having eight players who can play in the scrum. If a forward leaves the field of play for any reason and cannot be replaced due to injury, sending off, temporary suspension or any other reason then both teams must reduce the number of players in the scrum so that there are equal numbers.

If any player other than a forward has to leave the field for any reason and cannot be replaced there will be no reduction in the players playing in the scrum.
This will be referred to the Chairman of the Rugby Committee for the Law to be amended to provide clarity.

2nd Annual Women’s Referee Development Camp
From USA Rugby’s Referee Development Department.

BOULDER, Colo. – USA Rugby is pleased to announce that it will be hosting its 2nd Annual Women’s Referee Development Camp and a Luke Gross extended Lineout Workshop, September 11-13, 2009.

The camp and clinics will be held in conjunction with the PumpkinFest Tournament, held September 12-13 at Pennypack Park in Philadelphia and hosted by the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Club. Over 30 rugby teams are looking to attend PumpkinFest this year, including teams from the surrounding high schools, colleges and clubs.

While the focus of last year’s Women’s Referee Camp was on the basic principles of refereeing, this year’s camp will focus on how to progress as a referee.

“The response to last year’s camp and the feedback received from both referees and the teams demonstrated the need to support the expanding numbers of women referees,” said Referee Development Director Ed Todd. “The PumpkinFest Tournament has provided an excellent environment for the identification and development of some very good performers with tremendous potential and they will get the chance to work with some of the top trainers in the country.”

Participants will take part in classroom sessions that will run all day on Friday, September 11, and will include presentations by National Panel Referee Manager Richard Every, USA Rugby Lineout Specialist Luke Gross, National Panel Referee Coach Jem McDowall, National Panel Referee Chris Henshall, National Evaluator Peter Simpson and Territorial Evaluator Kat Todd-Schwartz.

On Saturday and Sunday, participants will get to practice what was learned on Friday by refereeing games at the tournament.

“We are very excited about the upcoming camp,” said Match Official Administrator Jennifer Gray. “We have some new faces attending the event this year and a great group of mentors who are lending their time and expertise to provide one-on-one feedback throughout the weekend.”

Electronic copies of all presentation materials will be made available after the camp on the Best Practice and Resource Materials section of the Referee Development website at

In addition, the Coach Development Department is excited to bring to the tournament Lineout Specialist Luke Gross, who will be holding two extended Lineout Workshops for coaches throughout the weekend of PumpkinFest.

Luke Gross’ Workshop will focus on helping coaches to better coach the lineout safely and effectively; to understand the fundamentals of throwing, lifting and jumping; and to better learn basic offensive and defensive lineout strategies.
This four hour extended workshop will be a practical coaching workshop, allowing coaches the opportunity to actually coach players under the guidance of Luke Gross. Participating coaches will receive 5 USA Rugby continuing education credits for participation.
There are two separate sessions: Session one will be on Friday evening, 4-8 p.m., and is held in conjunction with the Philadelphia Women’s Rugby Club’s PumpkinFest Tournament and participants are encouraged to make an early trip to Philadelphia for this session.
Session two will be held on Sunday in cooperation with the Wilmington Rugby Club. Specific workshop locations are currently being finalized and will be posted at, and communicated via email to all registered participants.
To pre-register for either of the workshops or for more information, contact Please include in the subject of your email : Luke Gross Lineout Workshop: September 11 or Luke Gross Lineout Workshop: September 13. You will receive a tentative confirmation with payment details. Workshop spots are available on a first come-first serve basis. Payment must be received by September 1, 2009 to guarantee participation. For more information or to host a lineout clinic in your area contact Coach Development Manager Mollie McCarthy
For more information on USA Rugby, or to find out how to become involved in officiating or coaching the game in your area, check out

IRB Referee Talent Identification Program Update
From Aruna Ranaweera, USA Rugby National Panel Referee and IRB TIP Participant.

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Week 2.


Fitness testing was conducted for the TIP referees at 8a.m. on the track field. The TIP Strength/conditioning coaches supervised the warm-up and administered the tests. Both 10m and 40m sprints were timed electronically. We also did the “T”-test for agility. We moved to an indoor basketball court to do the multi-stage beep test, but after about four levels, the CD started to skip (probably due to vibration from the wooden floor), so the test was postponed to Tuesday.

After lunch, the big event on everyone’s agenda was the TriNations match between New Zealand and South Africa. Since the match was being played in Blomfontein, we couldn’t watch it live, but thanks to my roommate Horatiu’s rugby collaboration with Chester Williams in Romania, The Romanian trainer and I were invited to watch the match at Chester’s place in Cape Town. As Chester drove us out of Stellenbosch, he pointed out several rugby matches being played in the black neighborhoods of the town. We arrived at his hill-top house with a stunning view of Cape Town, including Table Mouontain and the ocean. Chester showed us his memorabilia from the 1995 World Cup and we were joined by several other guests to watch the Springboks control possession to defeat the All Blacks 28-19. Chester and his wife Maria then treated everyone to a delicious feast that included marinated Springbok. After an evening of joviality and reminiscing, they drove us back to our hotel in Stellenbosch. What great hosts!

Most of the TIP participants went out to celebrate our first week in Stellenbosch. The bars and clubs were packed with locals, mostly students, some of whom have started to recognize us from our refereeing during the week (positive reviews, so far!).

SUNDAY July 26

Stellenbosch is South Africa’s prime wine region, so appropriately, TIP participants were treated to lunch at Spier, a safari-themed winery that includes a wildlife area featuring live cheetahs and wild African dogs. Dining was buffet style under a large tent, complete with native dancers and couches. Everyone ate too much.

After lunch, most of us were bussed to scenic Cape Town for shopping at the Waterfront area. I seem to have caught a cold, so I went to bed early.

MONDAY July 27

We were treated to a presentation about creating winning teams and attitudes, in which we were shown video of how the Springbok team was motivated and focused for their World Cup campaign in 2007.

The TIP referees participated in a practical session for scrum management in which we took turns refereeing the Western Province Rugby Institute (WPRI) players during their morning practice. Tappe Henning lead us through a practical session on running lines recognizing that top-level players are often faster than referees. TIP participants also took an MBTI survey for categorizing personality type.

In the evening, we watched four of the TIP referees officiate Division 5 hostel matches (uncontested scrums).


At 8a.m., TIP referees ran the multi-stage beep test. Unfortunately, the wooden gym surface turned out to be quite slippery, so we started to lose our footing around level five. Consequently, the beep test results will only be used to estimate relative aerobic fitness within the TIP group.

Referees then took turns refereeing the WPRI players during maul practice. We were impressed by the bizarre “spider-maul”, an innovative variation of the rolling maul that is sure to confuse anyone who hasn’t seen it before, especially defenders and referees!

TIP participants then watched and analyzed video from the Lions versus Springboks first test. The video clips had been sorted and categorized using “Fairplay” software that dramatically increases the efficiency of post-match video review.

In the evening, four more of the TIP referees, including myself, officiated Division Four hostel matches (uncontested scrums). We are able to put our new running lines to good effect.


We listened to a presentation on counter-attack and kick defense by former Springbok and current assistant coach of the Blue Bulls, Pieter Roussou. He started his presentation by showing video of the famous Cal vs Stanford football play from 1982! (The message was to not relax and play till the final whistle.)

Tappe then lead the TIP referees through a fascinating presentation on practical refereeing, which included excellent recommendations on the approach one should take to balance the laws and the game. He and Kosie Horn emphasized that a lot of useful material is available on the IRB website (

In the evening, we watched three of the TIP referees from Monday officiate Division Three hostel matches. The matches were videotaped for assessment purposes.


Tappe lead the referees through more discussion about laws and the game using video clips. He emphasized the need for referee accuracy, i.e., the first clear and obvious infringement that has material effect. We were also introduced to several innovations to the sport including “power-play” advantage and also the use of software for time management. The latter is expected to be used globally by Number 4 officials for substitutions/replacements at high level matches.

In the evening, three of the TIP referees from Tuesday, including myself, officiated Division Two hostel matches. The matches were videotaped for assessment purposes. There were supposed to be more matches, but Stellenbosch has been hit by the flu, so some teams had to withdraw on short notice due to illness.

FRIDAY July 31

On the last morning of TIP4, we were treated to several stimulating presentations. First, we listened to a presentation by Paul Treu, coach of the World Cup champion South African Sevens team. He stressed that his team’s success was in large part due to continuity (tenure) between both players and staff. Furthermore, South African sevens players are full-time, i.e., they do not play 15’s. They are also monitored on a daily basis for fitness and health.

We were also treated to a fascinating presentation by Jake White, who coached the Springboks to World Cup glory in 2007. He focused on attention to details and showed how, starting from basic plays, he had created an elaborate play-book for the Springboks with an emphasis on defense. His presentation was especially useful for the TIP coaches, since it showed the level of preparation and tactical detail that is needed to win at the highest level of international rugby. I couldn’t help but notice how the Springbok playbook was somewhat similar to an American football playbook!

We also listened to an entertaining presentation by Tim Noakes, professor of exercise and sport science at the University of Cape Town. He emphasized the need for recovery and impressed the audience with data on performance and training, using international teams as examples. He also highlighted the mental aspect of training and performance, using Roger Bannister’s four minute mile as an example. Prof Noakes also stressed that in terms of literature and professionalism, American football was “40 years ahead” of world rugby, so rugby has a lot of room to learn and grow. In fact, it struck me during the past two weeks that even though USA is considered a second tier rugby nation, the tier one nations look to professional American sports as an example of how to grow and commercialize rugby. Many of the TIP presenters used examples from American football to highlight their points.

All TIP referees had brief one-on-one’s with Tappe Henning to touch base on future plans and options. We bade farewell to him and agreed to keep in touch.

In the evening, I enjoyed watching the visiting All American rugby team defeat the Stellenbosch Markotters 36-24. Even though the Markotters are essentially a third string varsity select side, beating them is no mean task since Stellenbosch has the top university rugby team in South Africa. I congratulated Matt Sherman and Dave Williams who were at the stadium with the USA team.

TIP organizers and participants were treated to a hearty farewell dinner BBQ in which we thanked everyone for their efforts and company. Steph Nel and the Western Province Rugby Institute (WPRI) were very good hosts.


My 18-hour South African Airlines flight from Johannesburg to Washington DC was poorly timed as it took off during the second TriNations match between New Zealand and South Africa. In case anyone was wondering about the score, the pilot announced that the Springboks had won 31-19, which drew loud applause and cheers from the passengers.

SUNDAY August 2

After a 36-hour trip from Stellenbosch to San Jose, I now have to get back into my regular routine despite jet-lag…

I would like to thank USA Rugby for nominating me for this great opportunity in Stellenbosch. I will be a better referee as a result and I intend to share my new-found insights and knowledge with my USA referee colleagues.


Coach Development Program Seeks Workshop Hosts
From USA Rugby’s Coach Development Department.

Is your area in need of certified coaches? Are you interested in hosting a CDP workshop? USA Rugby has streamlined its host requirements. We now will be accepting host applications all year round; the only requirement is that you give a 3 weeks advanced notice. For more information on how to apply click here If you have any further questions please contact Coach Development Manager Mollie McCarthy at

Referees – how to setup Google Calendar

For the 2009 Fall season we will be using the Google Calendar integrated into the TRU Website.

Availability requests will be mailed out at least one month in advance and will show up in your email or Google Calendar.  Don’t have Google calendar, click below for a quick tutorial of how to get it.
How to set up Google Calendar – Video

Please respond to the availability request in a timely manner.  If no response is received, you will receive future emails reminding you and requesting that you update your availability.

How to respond to Availability and Match Requests – Video

Match Assignments will be made based on the positive response to the availability requests.
Match assignments will also come through as “Meeting Requests” through Google Calendar and you will respond “Yes” or “No” in order to confirm the match with the assignors.

If you have any questions, please contact Greg Varnell at gvarnell[at]

TOLA Finals

The TOLA series capped off it’s finals at the Shreveport-Horseshoe TOLA 7s Aug. 8-9, 2009.  Host club Shreveport won in overtime against a well-coached Little Rock Club.  National women 7s coached, Julie McCoy had her boys playing great rugby but Hal Struckman and his Shreveport gang stood tall at the end and came away with the victory.

Greg Varnell was in the middle with Wendy Young and Rich Prim assisting on the touch.  Mr. Varnell did an excellent job.  We had a good crew of match officials during the weekend; from the very new to the very, very old.  Match officials included  Chris Kelly, Traci Schmidtke, Wendy Young, Greg Varnell, Rich Prim and visiting referee from the deep south, Chris Piscotta.

Congrats to a strong referee crew and kudos to a great job the Shreveport team provided as host on this very hot Aug. day.

2009 TOLA Shreveport referees
2009 TOLA Shreveport referees

Match officials included in photo above from l to r:  Chris Kelly, Traci Schmidtke, Wendy Young, Greg Varnell, and Rich Prim.
Our visiting referee from the deep south, Chris Piscotta, was not available for the picture.

TRRA AGM, Saturday August 15th

The Texas Rugby Referee Association (TRRA) will hold it’s Annual
General Meeting (AGM) on Saturday, August 15, 2009 starting at 10AM
sharp in the municipal offices of the City of Centerville, Texas,
located at 325 E Saint Marys St (Hwy 7) Centerville, TX 75833, just
east of I-45 at Hwy 7. Lunch will be served and we will try our best
to conclude all business by 3PM.

All TRRA members are urged to attend. If you are unable to attend,
please provide your proxy to either the Chairman, Greg Puklicz, or the
Vice-Chairman, Jim Wolfinger, or any other member of your choosing. If
you wish to submit a proxy, please send an e-mail clearly stating your
name, to whom you are providing the proxy (one person only) and
reference that the proxy is for the 2009 TRRA AGM only. Please copy
any proxies to Greg Puklicz at
An agenda for the meeting will be circulated one week before the
meeting. If there is any matter any member wishes to place on the
agenda, please e-mail Greg Puklicz. The agenda will include a
financial report, an update on the final agreement with the TRU, a
training and development report, logo selection, discussion of bylaw
updates, discussion of insurance requirements, an update on our new
scheduling system, and elections for Chairman and Vice-Chairman,
amongst other things.

A final vote for the new logo will be conducted at the meeting. Any
member who has a proposal for a logo must bring a fully developed
color logo on an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet of paper for the membership to
review and consider.

In addition, all members will be required to pay TRRA dues for the
coming 2009-2010 season in the amount of $20. Please bring cash or
your check book. Checks should be made out to the TRRA. All members
who pay their dues at or prior to the meeting will receive their copy
of the new 2009 IRB Law Book at the conclusion of the AGM. Also, new
kit will be available after the meeting (once the new logo is selected
and embroidered) but only to those members who have paid their
2009-2010 dues.

Should you have any other questions with regard to the AGM, please
contact Greg Puklicz, Chairman, or Jim Wolfinger, Vice-Chairman

TRRA Referee Training Courses Coming Soon!

All –

Please note the following Referee Courses coming soon and get signed up ASAP as spots are filling up quickly:

For Existing Referees/Coaches:

Are you interested in learning how to constructively coach and evaluate referees? Are you a new or experienced referee who would like to know how you are evaluated and what coaches are looking for? Are you currently a referee coach/evaluator who would like to brush up on the latest techniques and ideas? Are you a rugby team coach who would like to understand what referees are taught, to help you become a better coach?

* Level 1 Coaching Match Officials (CMO – Level 1) course being taught by USA Rugby’s Ed Todd on August 22, 2009 in Dallas, TX.

For New Aspiring Referees:

Are you interested in becoming a rugby referee? Are you a rugby player or coach who would like a better understanding of the Laws and how they are applied? Are you interested in getting paid to participate in rugby – referees receive travel allowances and match fees!

* The TRU’s Rich Prim is an iRB certified trainer and he will be teaching a Level 1 course at Texas State on September 12th.
* Joe Zevin from ERRFU is an iRB certified trainer as well and he will be teaching a Level 1 course in Dallas on Saturday, September 26th.

Please contact Greg Puklicz @ for further details and to confirm your spot ASAP in one of these courses as they are filling up quickly. Please note the courses are being sponsored by the TRRA and there is NO fee/charge for TRU/TRRA members. For out of state participants, contact Greg Puklicz to determine your participant fee.

Referee Level One Courses coming soon

All –

Please note the following Referee Courses coming soon and get signed up before they fill up:

* Level 1 CMO course being taught by USA Rugby’s Ed Todd on August 22, 2009.

* The TRU’s Rich Prim is an iRB certified trainer and he will be teaching a Level 1 course at Texas State on September 12th.

* Joe Zevin from ERRFU is an iRB certified trainer as well and he will be teaching a Level 1 course in Dallas on Saturday, September 26th.

Please contact Greg Puklicz @ for further details.