2019 Club 7s Handbook: Match Officials (Section 6)
6.1 Match Officials Overview
For any 7s tournament, a good rule of thumb has been half as many referees as teams (e.g. a 16-team tournament needs 8 referees).
Qualifier tournaments should have half as many referees as teams, with a minimum of 1 national-level and 1 territorial-level 7s referee (see below), from the Sevens Referee Program. Regional Qualifier brackets usually consist of 4-8 teams (Male or Female). The Qualifier matches must also have certified ARs for every match. At the 2018 Las Vegas Invitational, the Sevens Referee Program identified approximately 34 referees to be developed as competitive 7s referees. These referees are spread throughout the U.S., but certainly some areas have more talent than others.
A referee coach should also be in attendance, to verify that performances are up to standard, answer questions and/or controversies that arise, and write reports and score each referee’s performance. All 8 rugby “Competitive Regions” have capable referee coaches. Top National 7s Referee coaches Nick Ricono, Olivia Rogers, Terry Haas, Haylee Slaughter, Mike Kelly, Brad Kleiner, and Brian Zapp are also available, if tournaments are interested, to come coach/report and also interact with Sevens team coaches.
Plane tickets are generally around $350-$400 per person. Several Territorial Referee Societies are actively engaged in 7s referee exchanges, which could be coordinated with qualifier tournaments (shared costs?). Further costs can be avoided by billeting (fellow referees provide housing and ground transportation). Otherwise, accommodation ($125 a night) and ground transportation ($75 rental car - a day) should be provided.
As 7s continues to develop and grow in the U.S., 7s teams and tournaments will hopefully follow suit. This could initiate a corresponding demand for well-qualified referees and conditions could well change. However, at this point in time, USA Rugby has taken a pragmatic approach of providing the best service for the most reasonable price. In the future, if there is a desire to upgrade standards, USA Rugby can revisit the issue then.
This year, the 2019 USA Rugby 7s Referee Program, has identified approximately 70 referees to be developed as 7s referees at the National level.
6.2 Sevens Referee Program
USA Rugby begins the Sevens Referee Program at the Las Vegas Invitational each March. In 2019, the USA Rugby 7s Referee Program watched and coached 42 referees and filed reports on each. From the overall talent pool, they generated a roster of 7s referees to track over the upcoming 7s season and prepare for national championships, both collegiate and club. Going into the summer Club 7s season, the top 30 7s referees will have just officiated at the College 7s National Championship and/or the CRC, giving USA Rugby a chance to actively evaluate, train, and coach 7s referees for 2 or 3 months leading into the summer 7s season.
6.3 Sevens Referee Program Criteria
The program will list a full roster of referees involved in the USA Rugby 7s Referee Program (posted where everybody can see it), based on these three criteria:
1. Effort/Work Rate/Urgency
Always working hard each and every game.
v Positioning at the tackle - On the attacking side at 45 degrees (see the ball)
Ø majority of time between the 15 meters
Ø Shoulders parallel with the gain line
v Running Lines – Ball line running with attacking side.
Ø Close enough to play to affect the breakdown (not too deep)
Ø Running straight lines (no looping)
Ø Anticipating passages of play and breakaways
v Fitness - Keeping up with play (particularly late in the day/second day)
v Sevens Law Variations – Shorter Advantage, quicker ball at the tackle than 15s
v Clear and Obvious calls – recognizing and focusing on the clear and obvious
v Facilitate Quick Play – allow legal quick throw-ins and quick penalty taps
Ø Work the 10 meters at the penalty marks
v Fair contest at the restart – most common set play in Sevens, big contest for possession
v Credible Sevens scrums/lines outs – fair contest for the ball without being too technical
v Accurately referee the tackle (tackler release, tackler assist release and enter through the gate, arriving players enter through gate and remain on their feet)
Ø Goal is quick ball at the tackle
v Clear and Obvious calls – making the clear and obvious calls, and following up if not catching the clear and the obvious (why?)
v Referee to the expected outcome rather than strictly to the Law book
v Display strong game knowledge – anticipation of play, reading game trends/patterns
v Sharp, consistent and accurate calls at the breakdown
v Game management - Uses all of their tools (caution, penalties, cards) to keep play flowing while maintaining high standards. Cannot just keep calling penalty after penalty (repeated infringements).
v Superior fitness – refereeing the best Sevens athletes, must keep up with play
v Clear and Obvious calls – making all of the clear and obvious calls