Guideline: Ball Carrier Hurdling a Tackler

Please see below USA Rugby’s guideline for a Ball Carrier Hurdling a Tackler. It was informally discussed with World Rugby. It should be addressed on a case by case basis.
Ball Carrier Hurdling Tackler Guideline
We 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:
  • biting an opponent
  • spitting on an opponent
  • 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:
  • It is dangerous to the opponent because that action brings boots into close proximity of a players face/head.
  • 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:
  • Jumping over a player who is lying on the ground
  • 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  |  USA Rugby
2655 Crescent Dr, Suite A, Lafayette, CO 80026


Notes from USAR Refs Manager

Notes for this week:
Establish BEHAVIOR: 
  1. Set standards early in the match so both teams are aware of the parameters. Playing ADV for every infringement often wastes time and energy. Set it up from the outset, it will create a better managed game.
  2. Breakdown: Generate quick ball availability by penalizing tackle infringements early and quickly as they occur, rather than playing advantage or allowing players to slow down the recycle until they are cleaned out. Quick ball availability means that the ball is available to be played by the team in possession, however they see fit.
  3. Space: Keep players onside at rucks, mauls and set pieces, and PLEASE, more awareness of players that are offside at kicks moving forward. If you are 10m+ away from where the ball lands, you still need to not move forward until you have been put onside.
  4. Scrum:
    1. More patience in the set-up. Wait for the scrum to be square and steady before the each call.
    2. Often the scrum is moving or the defense wheel the scrum 15º before the put-in. FK.
    3. All players are required to push straight. Walking around can easily be seen by the body position and legs of the locks and back row – it is illegal and should be penalized.
    4. Ensure props are bound on the side or on the back. If you allow the Loosehead to bind under the body, it gives them an easy option to bore in.
  5. Foul Play: Put the onus on players rather than debate dangerous or foul play.
RICHARD EVERY  |  High Performance Referee Manager  |  USA Rugby
2655 Crescent Dr, Suite A, Lafayette, CO 80026

Additional guidance…

On Thursday, September 29, 2016 from Richard Every at USAR <>:

After review of available matches, team coach feedback and reports, we have quite a few areas to address:

    1. Tackler Assist needs to clearly release AND come through the gate.
    2. Quick Ball means its availability is that the ball is clear without defenders slowing the recycle or being in the way – we are allowing defenders too much room to disrupt. CLEAN IT UP.
  2. SCRUM:
    1. Legally dominant teams should be rewarded.
    2. More awareness of defensive scrums under pressure:
      1. Not taking the weight on SET
      2. Walking the scrum around
      3. Dissolving the scrum (players leaving the scrum, standing up, collapsing)
    1. Put the onus on players to play within the Law
    2. More awareness of late tackles/hits on kickers and players following up.
    3. Rucks & Mauls: Joining players have to bind. Shoulder charge into a maul is not allowed and should be penalized and dealt with.
    1. Sack should be immediate. Once a maul is formed, and attempted sack is illegal and collapsing the maul
    2. Defenders have to join from the back, NOT THE SIDE.
    1. The mark for a PK or FK is where the infringement occurred or as indicated in Law, NOT WHERE THE REFEREE IS STANDING.
    2. Quick Tap PK/FK:
      1. Should be taken in the region of the mark, not within 5m from the goal line, and not ahead of the mark.
      1. Ball needs to be kicked, along the ground, OR, must leave the hands

Game Management Guidelines, September 2016

The New Game Management Guidelines:
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  |  USA Rugby

Kicking the Ball in a Ruck

World Rugby clarified kicking the ball in a ruck and provided the following wording for clarification:


1. If a player is part of the ruck he may attempt to kick the ball:
(1) If he makes contact with a player on the ground which results in foul play, the sanction is a PK and possibly suspension/red card.
(2) If he kicks the ball out of the scrumhalf’s hands the sanction is a PK and possibly suspension/red card.

2. If a player is not part of the ruck and then steps over or comes around the side of the ruck and kicks the ball:
(1) PK and possibly suspension.
(2) If he makes contact with a player on the ground which results in foul play, the sanction is a PK and possibly suspension/red card.
(3) If he kicks the ball out of the scrumhalf’s hands the sanction is a PK and possibly suspension/red card.

2016 7s Roster and Subs

On Tuesday, June 14, 2016 9:05 AM, from Patrick Boyle

USA Rugby is participating in the World Rugby 7s Trial laws. This may be temporary as it is a trial. It reads:

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.

A good example is a recent USA 7s World Rugby Circuit game where Perry Baker started, Carlin Isles subbed on, then Perry Baker subbed back on. That is 2 substitutions. So there were 5 guys on the bench, and one player who started is subbed back on as in this example, only 4 guys on the bench in total could be used as Perry ‘took’ one of the subs.


This was posted on Facebook on April 2 at 12:26pm, but some folks didn’t get the memo:

In USA Rugby’s current “PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING GUIDELINES” (2015), this is very clear: “Prosthetics limbs and devices are currently not permitted in contact rugby. Although there are several different models and materials for these items, they are not permitted in contact rugby. Please contact USA Rugby if there are specific questions around these items.”

Don’t let sympathy overrule common sense. This is non-negotiable. If you need clarification, see