More mid-season comments from USAR

From: Richard Every <>
Date: October 13, 2017 at 06:55:34 EDT
We are mid-season now and there have been some improvements in your refereeing which has been inspiring, and to continue to build through to the end of the season, we would like you to consider some additional areas of focus:
    1. URGENCY: Most tackles become rucks, and it requires referees to manage space more effectively. This is achieved by working harder to be on an inside/infield position to create more presence and work to create/maintain space.
    2. POSITIONING at RUCKS, take up one of three positions:
                                                              i.      On the attacking side, facing the defense: Close to the ruck – crash ball will be outside of you. 
                                                            ii.      On the attacking side, facing the defense: Far from the ruck – crash ball will be inside of you.
                                                          iii.      Close to the goal line, once you have worked/established ball availability, drop to the defense, between defenders (not in front of them).
NOTE: These positions are essential to avoid disrupting and getting in the way of defenders
                                                              i.      Needs to release immediately. Seeing too many referees allowing the “let it breathe” approach that actually allows the defense to effectively slow down the recycle until they are cleared out. Be proactive in removing it early from the game.
                                                            ii.      If you need a REPLAY to see if they released the ball it is not good enough – clear release, clear space.
    1. RUCKS range from 150-200 per match. At about 15% there is competition for possession, and 3.5% should clearly be a turnover. It amounts to around 20-30 competitive rucks, and 7-10 that should be turnovers. The more you watch rugby, and the more you focus on anticipating the breakdown, the better you become at making those key decisions, the ones that matter, the ones where you get the probable outcome correct that supports the flow of the game.
  1. SCRUM:
    1. SLOOOOW DOWN the BIND-SET. Let the scrum settle before calling SET. When you call BIND, the scrum height slightly increases, then once teams bind, the height goes down and the scrum becomes steady. THEN CALL “SET”.
    2. PRESSURES: TH pressure is downward, LH upward. Thus, when we see a TH being penalized for pushing up, it makes no sense, it could only be the LH not taking the pressure and pulling out.
    1. SCRUM: Be sure that when you call advantage over, that the team has controlled possession.
    2. PENALTY: A penalty kick allows a team to:
                                                       i.      Possibly kick 3 points (sometimes from 50m or more away).
                                                            ii.      Kick for touch (sometimes 50m or more) and retain possession.
NOTE: Take these points into consideration before playing fruitless advantage, hoping that something spectacular will happen.
  1. FOUL PLAY: We are seeing some referees getting back to old habits of negotiating high tackles. There is no negotiation here. Penalize it, put the onus on the players, and get it out of the game.
Remember, the game is not about you. You are there to facilitate an environment where both teams can compete fairly, on a level playing field.

A Few Fall Focus Areas from USAR

On Thu, Oct 5, 2017 at 2:21 PM, Richard Every <>, USAR High Performance Referee Manager wrote:

There have been a lot of positives already– the new tackle trial that a ruck forms when a player on their feet is positioned over the ball has created more space and structure. The only negative appears to be where defenders approach, make contact, and then attempt to gain possession with their hands. This means a few more “hands in” PK’s than we normally see, but hopefully players will adjust over time.

A few things to focus on:


When you anticipate the scenario above, you could call “RUCK NO HANDS”, and it may prevent a PK.
We see a lot of referees commenting in their reports to “Let it breathe”. That is a good approach especially if you had a full season of Sevens and are struggling to make the transition to Fifteens. Please focus to differentiate between “let it breathe” and allowing defenders to slow down the recycle. This is noticeable as we see some referees over-managing, with too much talking. Often, when you communicate to defenders to do something, like “Release” or “Roll Away”, they have already achieved their goal in slowing down the recycle.



i. Both teams should be stationary and square before each call.

ii. LH props to keep the inside should in line and not tucked.

iii. LH to bind on the back or side – not under the TH.

iv. TH to bind on the back or side – not on the LH arm.

v. DO NOT RUSH the Bind-Set. It takes patience and focus to get this right.

WALKING AROUND: Teams need to be pushing forward. Walking around, spinning the scrum on its axis should be penalized.

TIME WASTING: We have seen a few matches where players waste time, to form lineouts, scrums, and so forth. Be up to date on your Laws:

  • Conversion Kicks: 90s – time elapsed the kick is disallowed.
  • Penalty/Free Kicks: 60s – time elapsed the kick is disallowed and a scrum is awarded to the opposition.
  • Scrum: Ready to “Crouch” within 30s – Free Kick, if it is repeated, Penalty Kick.
  • Lineout: Teams are required to form a lineout. If they delay, you request they form the lineout (this includes teams that lineout a distance away and walk into the lineout). If they do not comply, Free Kick. If they repeat this action, Penalty Kick.

RUCK with one player

From: Richard Every
Date: Fri, Sep 8, 2017 at 11:35 AM

[This is an excerpt since we’ve all seen the video and know the new law.]

If a player has to step with one leg over the ball, they would be a prone target to be cleared out.

AT THIS TIME, in the USA, WE WILL DO THE FOLLOWING, until further clarification:

If, at a tackle, a player on their feet positions themselves over the ball, a ruck is formed. That means, your body has to be over the ball. It should be in a controlled manner, and both legs can still be on your side of the ball and they may grasp their player that is on the ground. Try not to over-complicate it.

If that player then decides to play the ball, they have to step back so they are no longer over the ball, then play the ball coming through the gate.

If, after they have formed the ruck, they pick up the ball in that ruck-forming position, it is a PK against them for hands in.

Requirements for USA Rugby Referees National Panel

Requirements for USA Rugby Referees National Panel include:

  1. Demonstrates a degree of comfort, competence, capability and confidence in refereeing high level matches;
  2. Demonstrates a degree of comfort, competence, capability and confidence in assistant refereeing high level matches;
  3. Demonstrates long-term commitment as referee;
  4. Responds appropriately to referee coaching;
  5. Demonstrates self-motivation and willingness to self-review;
  6. Demonstrates high knowledge & understanding of Game;
  7. Demonstrates mental agility & adaptability;
  8. Benchmarks successful fitness requirements;
  9. Contributes positive energy to and operates well within the group and High Performance System;
  10. Demonstrates commitment to the Community, and contributes to the development of match officials;
  11. Demonstrates excellent Ambassadorial skills;
  12. Complies to the USARR Code of Conduct.

A question that is often asked is “How do you become a NP Referee?”. Ultimately, the USARR Selection Committee is responsible for selecting the Panel. We will be releasing a structured pathway by the Fall that presents clear steps and goals from C3 through to the top.

Referees who aspire to be NP Referees, can control a lot of their own pathway:

  1. Proactive involvement in the refereeing community
    1. Attend meetings.
    2. Support fellow referees.
    3. Be an ambassador for the game – network with referees, coaches, players. It raises your profile and support structure.
    4. Attend/participate in as many events/tournaments as possible.
    5. Be available and let everyone know you’re available (Don’t sit and wait for an email/call)
  1. Grade
    1. B1, 2, 3 / Territorial
    2. ADVANTAGE System – support your own development, upload and review videos, ask peers/reviewers to review your matches.
  1. Certifications (
    1. L1 and L2 courses completed, and hopefully L3
    2. CMO1 Course sets a good foundation for self-learning and understanding referee coaching
    3. Touch Judge and Assistant Referee Certified (Online)
  1. Laws
    1. Be a scholar of the game, know your Laws & Interpretations.
    2. Be an active participant in the ADVANTAGE Message Board
    3. USA Rugby Referees Facebook page is an active group that discusses a wide array of Laws & Interpretations.
  1. Fitness
    1. YoYo: Elite 18.5 NP 18, B 17
    2. Beep: Elite 12.6, NP 12, B 11.6
  1. Presentation
    1. How you present yourself, communication and body language, is vital in establishing credibility and trust.
    2. Signals & Whistle tone should be perfected. If you have a mirror, practice. Learn to blow your whistle properly.
    3. Self-perception should be explored. How we perceive ourselves is often not how others perceive us. It can make a huge difference if you can establish an honest approach here. Ask your peers for assistance, study video of NP referees and of yourself and compare how you are presenting yourself on the field, how you communicate, and is your body language, whistle tone and signaling exceptional? Do you run well – yes, you can be coached to run like an athlete. Another way to consider presentation is if you had a non–rugby person see you referee a game, they should think that the referee looks great. Sell yourself – if you get this right it creates an amazing foundation for being a successful referee and achieving your goals.

Fall 2017 Fitness Testing

From Amanda Cox <>:

Any referee who wishes to be considered for National Assignments in Fall of 2017 should submit a passing fitness test score by September 1. The YoYo test is preferred, but the Beep test will be accepted until the 2018 cycle.

Please report scores using this Google form (LINK).

Fall 2017 Passing Fitness Scores
Grade   YoYo    Beep
Elite   18.5    12.6
NP      18      12
B       17      11
C1      17      11
C2      16      10

7s Laws Changes for 2017

USA Rugby has requested, from World Rugby, official permission to institute these new laws effective immediately (rather than wait until September 1st for the Northern Hemisphere), and USA Rugby has received the go- ahead from World Rugby. The new laws have been in effect for the entire current HSBC Sevens World Series, and will bring the USA in line with what you are all watching at the top level. The highlights include:

  • All matches are now 7 minute halves, no more 10 minute halves for Cup Finals (5.1)
  • Restart kicks must be taken within 30 seconds from the time a conversion has been taken or declined (13.2)
  • Restart kicks must be taken within 30 seconds from the time a penalty goal or drop goal is attempted, whether it is successful or goes dead (13.2)
  • Teams must form a line out within 15 seconds from the time the referee has indicated where the throw will take place (19.8)
  • Teams must be ready to form a scrum within 15 seconds from the time the referee has indicates the mark of the scrum (20.1)
  • A penalty or free kick must be taken within 30 seconds of being awarded (21)
  • 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 (5.7)
  • When there are multiple 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 (8.1)
  • 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 – automatic 7 points (9.A.1)
  • A player who is attempting to bring the ball under control is deemed to be in possession of the ball (19)
  • If a player jumps and knocks the ball back into the playing area before landing in touch or touch-in-goal, play continues regardless of whether the ball reaches [crosses] the plane of touch (19)
  • If the ball carrier reaches [crosses] the plane of touch but returns the ball to the playing area without first landing in touch, play continues (19)
  • If the ball has not passed the plane of touch when it is caught or picked up [by a player standing in touch], then the catcher is deemed to have taken the ball into touch, regardless of whether the ball was in motion or stationary [no more catching the ball in the field of play, with a foot out to touch, and getting the throw in] (19)


From Rugby Virginia (but this applies equally to College and Club.):

Some parents have inquired about getting protective eyewear for their child. In an effort to allow people who need to wear corrective lenses to do so safely while playing rugby and to accommodate people with monocular vision or chronic eye conditions who wish to wear goggles while playing Rugby, World Rugby has developed specific goggles – “Rugby Goggles.” Rugby Goggles have been developed with a view to posing no additional risk to the wearer and other players.
Here is the link to order the goggles:

No other eyewear is permitted during play, so this is our one and only option.