Preparing for the Sevens Season

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on June 6th, 2012

Sevens is a tough game to referee and that just because there are fewer people on the pitch does not mean that there is less going on. If people are gearing up to referee some of the better games, they need to adhere to these basic tenets:

  1. Fitness – the ability to sprint up and down the pitch again and again (speed and stamina). There is NO walking in Sevens.
  2. Law knowledge – must possess a clear understanding of the Laws of the Game (including Seven-a-Side variations)

Let’s look at two main categories for Sevens referees:

Beginners and relatively new Sevens Referees

The two fundamentals to begin with are running lines and positioning.

  1. Running lines
    • Sevens referees should run up and down the pitch parallel to the touchlines (usually, but not always between the 15-meter lines).
    • The Sevens referee must keep up with play and the ball to detect forward passes, which in Sevens usually results in a try.
    • Taking angles or looping around will waste time and energy, so straight up and down the pitch. Then when the ball/breakdown moves to the outside, the referee should slide over to police the breakdown.If you could plot the path of a referee over the course of a Sevens game, it would all be at right angles to the touchline and the dead ball line.
  2. Positioning at the breakdown
    • Must be at the breakdown and be in a position to SEE THE BALL.
    • Often times new referees will assume the ball takes care of itself, and automatically take the ”inside” position (towards the open or widest side of the field). If they are not hustling to the breakdown, they will not catch the first or even second infraction, and if they do not detect and see the ball right away, it gets even worse.

More experienced Sevens referees

Focus on your fundamentals (running lines and positioning at the breakdown):

  1. Find the ball at the tackle
    • decide within 2-3 seconds whether to (1) play on, (2) penalize, or (3) scrum up, ball is tied up legally.
    • Then when the referee is happy good clean ball has been secured, slide out and start scanning for off-sides (ball, inside (fringe), and outside (back line)
  2. Work on managing the game by getting compliance without blowing the whistle.
    • By getting to the breakdown quickly, using voice, etc. the referee should be maintaining standards and keeping the penalty count low.

There is a lot more to do, but these are the basics that everybody should be working on.

Don’t Forget:

Summer Sevens can put extra pressure on your body in the hot sun all day. It’s always good to have the following items added to your gear check-list:

  • Sunscreen
  • Water
  • Energy Bar

Stay healthy!

Referees Recruiting Referees

Sevens tournaments are excellent opportunities to recruit referees for SCRRS. All current SCRRS referees should be looking for talented rugby players and invite them to attend an upcoming Level 1 Referee Course. USA Rugby is growing rapidly and with the Olympics just around the corner there will be greater need for Sevens Referees than ever before.

Reading Material:

The Psychological Qualities of a Good Referee
The Psychological Qualities of a Good Referee
Version: 2010
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Previous Articles Online:

Please note: Some of the articles are no longer available due to discontinued external websites. We’ll try to get the original articles posted fully on shortly.

Thanks for the great photos Frank!


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