USA Rugby Law Updates & Game Management

Referee Focus Areas - World Rugby (Fall 2017)


Values / Foul Play

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Tackle / Ruck

Tackle / Ruck Priorities


  1. Tacklers must roll to the side QUICKLY
  2. Tacklers who get in the way will be penalized  
  3. Attacking players must not prevent tacklers from rolling away

Assist Tackler:

  1. There must be a CLEAR release  
  2. The ball carrier must be able to move the ball 
  3. If we need a replay it is not a clear release

Arriving Players:

  1. Attack: No hands on the ground to prevent contest
  2. Attack: Clearly sealing whilst under pressure
  3. Defense: No hands on the ground to contest the ball
  4. Defense: Players off feet cannot continue to play the ball

Tackle / Ruck Philosophy

  1. Balance of Strength
  2. Quality of contest
  3. Quality of cleanout



Tackle / Ruck Focus Areas

Supporting Body Weight
Players must not land directly on tackled players without removing a defender or to prevent a contest

Side Entry
Players must not enter from the side of the tackle/ruck  

Blocking Pillars
Players not part of the tackle/ruck must not bind onto each other and be clearly behind the hindmost foot

Players must not tackle opponents in front, beyond or at the side of the tackle/ruck


Players must not hold or obstruct players who are not part of the tackle/ruck



Scrum Priorities

  1. No pre engagement
  2. No rush calls from the referee – 3 calls - 3 actions
  3. Stability after set - Good platforms
  4. Legal binding
  5. Support body weight
  6. Pushing straight

Scrum Focus Areas

Loose-head Prop
LH shoulders must be visible & must not step out
LH must not hinge to collapse the scrum

Tight-head Prop
TH must remain straight pre & post engagement
TH must not crank or bind on the arm to collapse the scrum

Both packs must allow at least a gap on “bind” with no movement

Both packs must not push or pull before the feed

Scrum Feed & Hook
Feeds must be credible and hookers must clearly strike the ball

Lineout / Maul

Lineout / Maul Priorities

Defending Team: 

  1. No interference on jumper
  2. No sacking the lifters
  3. No Leg lifting
  4. No Swimming

Throwing Team: 

  1. No Blockers - Illegal formation around the catcher
  2. No Blockers - Obstruction on the blind side
  3. Players must stay bound
  4. Once a maul is formed players must not
  5. Join in front of the ball carrier

Lineout Focus Areas

Hookers must stand in the middle of the lineout


Players must not delay the setup and must not step or be lifted across the gap


Contact in Air
Jumpers must not be hold or tackle opponents in the air


Lineout Maul Focus Areas

Defending Team - Sacking Lifters
Lifters must not be sacked


Defending Team - Side Entry
Players must not enter from the side of the maul


Throwing Team - Formation Rippers 
The ball must be ripped and the ripper must bind to the jumper


Throwing Team - Formation Blockers
Lifters must not block behind the jumper.  
Players must not block to the side of the maul
i.e. they must be joined to the maul


Space / Offside

Offside Pillars
Players standing at pillar must show daylight behind the back foot of the ruck


Players must not be ahead of the ball and kickers must be behind the line


Both teams must remain 10m/5m until they are over


Head Contact
Match officials will continue to focus on any incidents of foul play that contact the head or neck of opponents
Reckless or dangerous actions which causes contact to the head or neck can be sanctioned with a red card

High Tackle Guidelines
1.    Contact (initial & final)
2.    Action (Accidental, Reckless or Deliberate)
3.    Force & Follow through


Deliberate Actions
If an action is deliberate in order to gain a penalty, when possible play will continue


Players must not prevent tacklers from rolling away


Appealing & Dissent
Players must not appeal or shout at the match officials or retaliate to acts of foul play
Too many warnings without sanctions

2017 Fall Law Changes - USA Rugby

link to 2017 Law Changes PDF