Reffing 7s: No Gas, No Love

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on March 24th, 2010

When refereeing 7s matches like this one at last year’s USA 7s, the officials have to be in shape or the frenetic action will leave them in the dust.

By Buzz McClain

If you’re one of those folks who will be watching a USA 7s match (Feb. 13-14 in Las Vegas) from high up in Sam Boyd Stadium, you might get the impression that the referee down on the field has a much easier job dealing with 14 players than the referee who negotiates 30 players in a 15s game.

But you would be wrong.

Just because 7s has half the number of players, and the 14-minute games are less than a fifth as long as an 80-minute 15s battle, doesn’t mean officiating 7s is a walk in the pitch.

Rugby Magazine interviewed some referees and their trainers who claim that 7s rugby offers a different set of challenges than do 15s. To competently adjudicate 7s games requires a skill set and fitness level that goes far beyond what’s required when refereeing 15s.

“When people talk about 7s they say, ‘It’s easier at the breakdown because there aren’t as many bodies, so it’s really clean,’” says Tom Lyons, a National Panel referee who had done championship finals in 7s and 15. “But with highly skilled teams, the challenges are very high at the breakdown because it’s so fast and easy to destroy good, quick attacking ball.”

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