2012 Summer Sevens season – Paddy Mac Updates – July part 5

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on July 31st, 2012

Caught a glimpse of the future of Sevens in the United States last weekend, and it sure looks a lot like the final round matches played in the Stadium at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park. Playing in a first-class facility has to inspire the players and their fans, because it sure motivated our referees. Here are some of the other ways we can earn the player’s trust and respect:


Referees who find themselves on the defensive line at the tackle need to come around to the attacking team side in order to see the ball – the first priority at EVERY tackle – and face the defending back line to keep them onsides, in the case of a ruck or maul. Granted, Sevens can be a test of endurance and by that fifth or sixth match of the day the legs may not be what they used to be. However, we owe it to the players to referee the tackle/breakdown accurately and consistently, all tournament long. Remaining on the defensive side at the tackle and just hope that it sorts itself out, usually indicates one of two things – the referee is either lazy or out of gas.


A ball carrier is brought to ground and “squeezes” the ball back between his/her legs. It is illegal at all levels of the game from under 19s, but is allowed at senior level, only if the ball is made available immediately. By available we mean that the sun can shine on it, and an arriving player who is on their feet and comes through the gate has a chance to contest for possession. Immediately means just that, RIGHT AWAY. Do not allow the ball carrier (usually isolated from his or her teammates) to delay or deny a fair contest for the ball by using their body to block opponents access to the ball.


Consider positioning yourself at the back of the line out on the line-of-touch (Note: Sevens only). This allows the referee to see if the ball is thrown straight (fair contest for possession), and be in a closer position for the next phase of play, rather than having to sprint from touch line to touch line in order to keep up. This is not an absolute, as situations change, and the referee is still responsible for making sure the throw in travels at least 5 meters (and across the 5-meter line). But in the vast majority of Sevens play, it will get you to the next phase of play quicker (and be more accurate), and save some wear and tear on the legs.


We are still seeing some tip tackles on the pitch, then the look of amazement from players when they are shown a card and force their teams to play a man short. There has been a clear mandate from the IRB to card all tip tackles and as referees, we have been fairly consistent in issuing them. If a player, in the act of tackling a ball carrier lifts said player in the air so their hips are above their shoulders, it is the tackler’s responsibility to bring the ball carrier back to ground safely. If a tackler drops said player on the ground, or drives the player into the ground they should expect a yellow card or a red card for their efforts.

Our thanks to Howard, Lance, Jim Bob, Senior and the Barbos faithful who took community and elite Sevens to new heights, to Tim-may for stepping up and handling assignment duties, to the Eastern Rockies referees who showed up in numbers and provided terrific support, to Mr. Russell for sharing his experience and knowledge with our young, promising Sevens referees, and Dark Marc for the footwear. It’s two a days from now until the National Championships on Treasure Island and I hope to see you there. Don’t forget to bring a jacket.

Paddy Mac

Patrick McNally
National Sevens Referee Manager
USA Rugby

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