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Referees' briefing

Hello to all coaches attending the Blackheath FC Mini Rugby Festival. At some point during the day you may be asked to referee one or more matches. There will be a referees' briefing for each age group prior to play starting at 10am which you should attend but here are some notes you might like to consider.

Included are some general guidelines for all age groups but also there are a few age-group specific things below that bear repeating.

1. Communication

Whatever your level of experience of refereeing, the players and coaches will appreciate knowing what's going on. If you blow the whistle to stop play, make sure all the players know why you've blown the whistle. If an offence has occurred, miming the offence to the coaches and others watching will help if they're out of earshot.

2. Advantage

There's no need to blow the whistle for an offence until it's clear there's no advantage to the non-offending team. Again, communication is really important: often younger players will stop and look expectantly at you when they know an offence has occurred. Something like "Advantage yellows! Play on!" may get them moving again. Make sure you tell them repeatedly that you're playing advantage until it's over, then call "advantage over!". A hand signal indicating the team with the advantage will let the onlookers know you're playing advantage.

If in doubt, blow the whistle and go back to the original offence. No harm done.

Rules of Play
U7: 4(c)
U8: 4(d)
U9: 4
U10: 1(b)
U11: 1(b)

3. Free passes

The Rules of Play are quite clear that no player from either team can move until the free pass is made. This means both

  • The team in possession can't make a free pass to a player who is already running
  • The defending team can't advance until the ball is in the air

In open play we encourage the players to run onto the ball, but all free passes and restarts must be made to a static player.

Rules of Play
U7: 5(c) & 5(d)(i)
U8: 5(c) & 5(d)(i)
U9: 5(b)
U10: 5(b)
U11: 7(b)

4. Hand offs

Players must not hand off the tackler, either with their hand or the ball. Referees often tell the players to hold the ball in two hands: this is good advice to prevent hand offs, but it is not one of the Rules of Play.

Rules of Play
U7: 9(c) & 9(d)
U8: 9(c) & 9(d)
U9: 6(c)
U10: 9(a)
U11: 5(a)(iii)

5. More than six tries ahead

If one team is more than six clear tries ahead of the other the referee should end the game immediately.

Regulation 15.14.3(a)

Under 7s

  • A reminder that players cannot take the ball from each other, even their own team mates; the ball must be passed in the air. It's a free pass to the non-offending team if this happens (but see Advantage above) (Rules of Play 4(a))
  • Even though this is a festival, knock-ons are still OK in U7s rugby. There shouldn't be any competition for the ball on the ground in U7s rugby for safety reasons. Whoever gets their hands on the ball first should be allowed to play it, but if it's 50-50 from a knock-on then you could consider handing the ball over to the non-offending team. (Rules of Play 4(b), 8(a))
  • Free passes must be taken at least 3m from the goal line (this applies to both attacking and defending free passes) (Rules of Play 5(d)(ii))

Under 8s

  • As with the U7s, players cannot take the ball from each other, even their own team mates; the ball must be passed in the air. It's a free pass to the non-offending team if this happens (but see Advantage above) (Rules of Play 4(a))
  • Free passes must be taken at least 7m from the goal line (this applies to both attacking and defending free passes) (Rules of Play 5(d)(ii))
  • After being tagged and passing the ball, the ball-carrier should go to the tagger and retrieve their tag. The tagger should not take part in the game until he or she has handed the tag back to the ball-carrier. The tagger may not throw the tag on the floor. Make sure the tagger isn't standing in a place that interferes with the pass. (Rules of Play 6(f), 6(l))

Under 9s

  • In this festival we will be playing the 6-tackle rule (U9s only). After the 7th tackle the ball is handed over to the defending team. If contact is made with the ball-carrier on the 7th tackle within 1m of the goal line, the ball carrier can attempt to ground the ball. (Rules of Play 7)
  • Offside only occurs at the time of the tackle. Defenders must stay onside until the ball-carrier or scrum half has made the pass (until the ball is in the air). There is no offside in open play. (Rules of Play 8, 6(j))
  • A player who takes the ball from another player on their own team must immediately pass it. Players must not rip the ball from an opposition player. (Rules of Play 6(p), 6(i))

Under 10s

  • Make sure the players entering a ruck are supporting their weight on their feet. Hands down over the ruck is a free pass. (Rules of Play 6(d))
  • A maul ends immediately if the ball-carrier puts a knee or hip on the ground. All players from the defending side must release the ball carrier. (Rules of Play 6(c), 6(j))
  • The back line of both teams must remain 5m behind the scrum until the ball emerges or the opposing scrum half lifts the ball from the ground. Until this happens, the scrum half of the non-throwing in team must remain directly behind their scrum, in the pocket edged by the two props. Scrums should be taken at least 5m from the goal line to allow the back line to maintain the 5m distance. (Rules of Play 7(g))
  • Players can take or rip the ball from the ball-carrier of either team but they must immediately pass it. (Rules of Play 4(b))

Under 11s

  • If the ball is knocked on from a kick off this is not penalised and play should be allowed to continue. However if a ball is kicked in open play and the catcher knocks on then a scrum is awarded to the non-kicking side (this is to encourage kickers not to kick directly to the opposition as it gives away possession). (Rules of Play 9(d))
  • When a scrum is awarded the nearest three players from each side should form the scrum. These scrums are not contested so the kids cannot push however both hookers can strike for the ball. (Rules of Play 12(b), 12(e))
  • In rucks and mauls the numbers should be limited to the ball carrier plus two and the tackler plus 2. (Rules of Play 8(c))

We hope this is all clear. Please ask questions at the referees' briefing if there is anything more you'd like to know.

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