2012 Summer Sevens season – Paddy Mac Updates – August

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on August 9th, 2012

It was Sevens heaven on Treasure Island last weekend, the best Men’s and Women’s clubs came to stake their claim as Best in the Nation. Thirty-one clubs, fourteen referees and a cast of dozens gave everything they had, but only two clubs were crowned National Champs. Teams spend a great deal of time to improve game performances, and here are some the ways we can improve ours:


We have previously pointed out that most Sevens forwards are not experienced scrummagers and the scrum in Sevens can be dicey, at best. Pre-engagement is the time to lay down the law and establish expectations; props bind on the hooker, props bind on their opposite numbers, scrum half puts the ball in straight (credible feed), and all the forwards stay in the scrum until it is over (ball is past the last foot). Remember, the most important factor in all Sevens scrums is that there is a fair contest for the ball. If there was a clean strike for the ball and the ball comes out cleanly, then the referee should let play continue. If the referee was not completely satisfied with all of the technical aspects, the next scrum is the best opportunity to follow up and manage the scrum (pre-engagement). Repeated resets do not guarantee better scrums, and will eat up a significant portion of the game clock (they only have 14 minutes). Teams with a lead could even welcome/encourage resets as a way of burning up time and protecting a lead.


Received quite a few comments concerning foul play last weekend. We heard from some that referees were too strict (let them play, it ain’t tiddlywinks), while others thought we were too lax (damn near took the ball carrier’s head off, and you didn’t call anything). As usual, the truth lies somewhere in between. Referees have an obligation to protect players – our number one priority is safety and if we err, we should always err on the side of safety. Tackles above the shoulders, shoulder charges, no wrap tackles, tripping, tip tackles are all on the no fly list. On the other hand, every hard tackle does not constitute foul play. Rugby is a collision sport and we need to separate the foul and dangerous from the hard and physical. When play becomes very physical, we must not panic and automatically blow the whistle. As long as a player tackles another player with the ball, wraps their arms around the ball carrier (or makes a sincere effort to do so) and makes contact below the shoulder line, we should play on. Be prepared to monitor play and base our decisions on whether a tackle was dangerous, not on hard the tackle was (and within the Laws of the Game).


Had an instance where a player was injured (wobbled around) but was not bleeding. The coach then had to make a choice, substitute the player out or play a man short until the injured player recovered sufficiently to be put back in the game. You cannot substitute a player out temporarily for injury (unless there is bleeding – blood bin), and then replace the temporary sub with the original player. It can be a tough choice to make; playing a man short gives the other team a distinct advantage, while substituting out a top performer can hurt a team’s chances just as much. The only exception (outside of the blood bin) is when all five substitutes have been used and a player definitely cannot carry on. Then and only then can a Sevens player who has been substituted out, return to play.

From the 7s variations:

If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match even to replace an injured player.
Exception: A substituted player may replace a player with a bleeding or open wound.

Regarding replacing of injured players, I think there is no exception for bringing back a substituted player other than blood. If a team used all 5 subs and then a player is injured without blood, they have to play with one less player. That is the law.

Our thanks go out to the San Francisco Golden Gate Rugby Club for hosting and to the many volunteers who came out and worked the sidelines (assistant referees, in-goal judges, number fours, ball runners, etc.). We salute all the players, coaches and team managers that make the National Club 7s Championships one of the most exciting tournaments on the rugby calendar. Good luck to all the teams at Serevi Rugbytown this weekend and we hope to catch everyone at the All-Stars 7s at the Olympic Training Center next week.

Paddy Mac

Patrick McNally
National Sevens Referee Manager
USA Rugby

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