Law Trials – Collegiate 7s Qualifiers – Paddy Mac

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on September 13th, 2012

Ladies and Gents,

It took two different airlines and three different airplanes but we were able to make it to Ottawa, and attend the NACRA 7s. This year’s edition featured invitations to the Rugby World Cup 7s in Russia next June and the teams were anxious to show their stuff. It also featured the newly approved Law Trials (attached). They will be enforced at this year’s National Collegiate 7s Championships at Texas A&M and should be enforced at all of the Collegiate 7s Qualifiers. This is how we saw they affected Sevens:

  1. Forming a scrum (new scrum cadence) – referees will now call “crouch”, “touch”, and “set”. This will help speed up the Sevens game and get the ball back into play. Like the former call “engage”, the “set” call will indicate that the front rows may come together when ready, but in reality both front rows will come into the scum as soon as they hear the letter “s”. It is the referee’s responsibility to get this new cadence down and make it a part of their regular routine.
  2. Outcome of a knock-on or throw forward – this was perhaps the most difficult new law for our referees to adjust to. Whenever a ball is thrown forward or knocked on directly into touch (without being played/touched by another player), the referee should give the option to the non-offending captain, lineout or scrum? This also means allowing the quick throw in (as long as it is the same ball, has not been touched by another player after being taken into touch, etc.) which means the non-offending team has made their choice. Be ready for the quick throw in as teams will wise up to this law change quickly and do NOT want the quick throw in disallowed or brought back, because the referee was not up with play.
  3. Quick throw in – we believe this means that teams throwing in quick are no longer restricted by a five-meter rope/barrier, and can throw the ball in from anywhere between the line-of-touch and their own goal line.
  4. Unsuccessful end to a ruck – did not come across this at the NACRA 7s. When the ball is presented and is ready to play from the ruck but is not being played quickly, the referee should call “use it [or lose it]” after which the ball must be played within five seconds. This may happen infrequently in Sevens as teams generally want quick ball to attack, but there are exceptions to every rule and as referees, we need to be able to make the adjustment and invoke “use it”, when and if it happens in Sevens.
  5. A team may substitute or replace up to five players – this change to the Sevens Variations has been in place all summer (effective June 1, 2012) and should not be a surprise to anyone. We have run into no difficulties or problems and the teams have made the most of this.

No drastic changes, but tweaks to the laws that should enhance quick ball, and allow the ball to be in play more. As match officials, it is our responsibility to support the players (it is their game, not ours) and facilitate matches, by keeping current with any law changes or applications. Good luck to all teams during the Collegiate 7s Qualifiers and I hope to see you in College Station.

Paddy Mac

Patrick McNally
National Sevens Referee Manager
USA Rugby

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