Ladies and Gentlemen,
After a brief sabbatical last summer, we are glad to be back on the golden road to unlimited devotion for Sevens rugby once again. The recent College Rugby Championships in Philadelphia and Elite City 7s in Houston showed that Sevens rugby continues to progress and grow in these here United States. From PPL Park and Houston Sports Park, these are some of the comments and trends we are seeing:
MAUL – IS IT OR ISN’T IT?
By law, a maul consists of at least three players, all on their feet; the ball carrier and one player from each team. All of the players involved must be caught in or bound to the maul and must be on their feet and moving towards a goal line.
One trend in Sevens is when the defending team ties up a ball carrier by holding said ball carrier up and sealing off the ball. If they can stop any forward progress, and keep the ball from being released, passed, or going to ground, a scrum is awarded to the defending team. A more current wrinkle is occurring, when the ball carrier’s team does not commit anyone to the ball carrier being held up, thus preventing a maul from being formed. In this instance, where several defenders are holding up a ball carrier with no one from the ball carrier’s team joining in, it is open play and the referee needs to learn how to handle situations like this:
Ball carrier is held up by opponents, but no one from the ball carrier’s team has bound in.
Not a Maul, not a tackle, but it is open play and the referee needs to encourage play to develop – Players may join from any direction, the ball carrier or defenders may bring the ball/ball carrier to ground which then becomes a tackle, and then all defenders must release the ball carrier.
Ball carrier on their feet with at least one player from each team bound in
(Maul) – Players joining the maul must come through the gate (no side entry), neither side may collapse/pull down the maul (including the attacking side), and if the maul goes to ground legally, nobody is required to release the ball or their opponents.
Once a player from both sides binds in on the ball carrier, the maul is not over until (1) the ball or a player with the ball leaves the maul, (2) the ball is on the ground, or (3) the ball is on or over the goal line. Binding in and then releasing does not end the maul
EXTRA ROLL IN PRESENTATION
Witnessed at several recent Sevens tournaments, where a ball carrier is tackled and has done an extra 360-degree roll to basically buy some time for his/her support to arrive. There will be instances where the momentum of the tackle can cause the ball carrier and often the tackler, to roll around legally. What we need to identify is when the ball carrier has become isolated, and the intention is to stall until the cavalry arrives (like a “squeeze” ball not being available immediately, or a “double movement”). Remember, “Ball over body is good; body over ball is no good” (TH). Penalty kick for not releasing the ball.
LINE OUTS AND THE RECEIVER
We are still getting questions about the receiver in a Sevens line out, and when can they “join” the line out. The simple answer is after the line out begins (when the ball leaves the thrower’s hands). When teams form a line out, the team throwing in set the numbers (number of jumpers on the line-of-touch ONLY). At this time, they need to establish and keep the number they will have in the line out. If a team chooses to have a receiver, that player must be back at least 2 meters.
(b) Maximum. The team throwing in the ball decides the maximum number of players in the line out.
(d) When the ball is in touch, every player who approaches the line of touch is presumed to do so to form a line out. Players who approach the line of touch must do so without delay. Players of either team must not leave the line out once they have taken up a position in the line out until the line out has ended.
The attacking team needs to establish numbers in the line out “without delay”, and stick with that number until the line out has started. For referees, make sure you know if a team has a receiver (not required), and if so, back them up at least 2 meters. You’re either in or you’re out.
We will not allow players to enter the line out once numbers have been set (no playing number games – unfair to the defending team), until the line out has started.
30 SECONDS FOR A CONVERSION KICK, AFTER THE TRY HAS BEEN SCORED.
This is currently an Experimental Law Variation (ELV), enforced on the Sevens World Series, that sets a new time limit on conversion kicks – 30 seconds after a try has been scored. We will be enforcing it this summer at our National Club Championships, and our Territorial Qualifiers. We instructed our referees in Philadelphia and Houston to manage this situation, let kickers know when they have 10 seconds left, but do not disqualify a kick because it was kicked within 32 or 33 seconds. However, if a try scorer throws the ball away after scoring, and it cannot be retrieved in time, the kick will be disallowed. While the Law still states that a conversion kick must be taken with 40 seconds of a try being scored, we feel that we should be working to meet the international standard. It also makes for playing time.
That’s it for this week, and I look forward to hearing from you either on the pitch or through email. Hope to see you some of you in Denver this weekend, I’ll be the one working on my reverse inside out tan.
USAR National Sevens Referee Manager