2012 Summer Sevens season – Paddy Mac Updates – June

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on June 19th, 2012


We will (should) be allowing 5 substitutions per team, per match, beginning immediately (IRB Global Law Trials as of June 1st, 2012). We have been receiving a lot of questions about this, and I’m not sure what the confusion is. Perhaps in the IRB press release, people were looking at the header below the law change, instead of the header above the law change. Regardless, all Sevens tournaments this summer should be allowing 5 substitutions per team, per match. It worked just fine in Philadelphia.


We train and encourage our Sevens referees to improve their management skills and limit calling penalties, if possible. This skill can fall out of balance from time to time, so it might be a good time to revisit what we mean by match management:

Good Sevens match management means –

  1. Setting a clear standard early
  2. Talking with captains to delegate some responsibility and get their buy in
  3. Working with players to get compliance before play starts (pre-engagement at the scrum, before the throw at the line out, before the restart kick)
  4. Playing no advantage at foul play (unless a try is imminent).

Good Sevens match management does NOT mean –

  1. Promising to call it “next time” and other empty warnings. Not calling clear and obvious penalties lowers your standards and erodes your credibility
  2. Stopping the match unnecessarily to “explain” things
  3. Avoiding the tough calls and/or being indecisive
  4. Not recognizing the moment/opportunity when a strong call will keep the match in bounds (and fair).

Sevens matches with fewer penalties can be well-managed affairs where the players and the referee are very clear on what is acceptable and what is not. The penalty count is lower because of a lot of hard work, preparation and communication. That is the challenge for every Sevens referee – how to uphold the highest standards while interrupting the game as little as possible.


At important Sevens tournaments like the CRC, we are fortunate to be able to bring in several performance reviewers that watch our referees and coach them to help improve their performances over the course of the tournament. This year marked an interesting experiment as we invited a coach, Al Caravelli, to join our PR team and bring different views and experiences. It was a resounding success as the referees were eager to get Al’s feedback and were open to his suggestions, Al got to experience the tournament from another perspective, and I learned more about coaching methodologies and ways to apply that to match officials. Win-win-win. This also demonstrates how we can continue to build bridges between coaches and referees, get a better understanding of what each are trying to accomplish, in a transparent setting where everybody benefits. We would like to find ways to further develop this setup with team coaches.

On the road this coming weekend to the Best of the West 7s at Fort Lewis-McChord and looking forward to seeing you all on a pitch somewhere soon. Our thanks to USA Sevens, Tamara, Eastern Penn, and to Al Caravelli who is always generous with his time and attention and we are better for it.

Paddy Mac

Patrick McNally
National Sevens Referee Manager
USA Rugby

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