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  • IRB clears up use of the bench

    From SAReferees.com

    Following the confusion about the use of substitutes/replacements in the Pretoria Test when South Africa played Australia, the IRB has clarified the relevant law and issued a protocol for those in charge of the coming and going of players during a match.

    The problem in Pretoria revolved around the number of substitutes/replacements of front row players that resulted in the Australians' playing the end part of the match with just 14 players after Tatafu Polota-Nau was injured and the scrums then became uncontested, which is unsatisfying.

    We shall deal with the Law first and then, separately, the protocol. Note that the substution of a player is tactical;, replacement is for injury. It is a pity that this was not available earlier.

    Law 3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH
    (a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
    Exception 1: a substituted player may replace a player with an open or bleeding wound.
    Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play and the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions.

    The IRB's comment:

    Law 3.12 (a) Exception 2:

    With the exception in Law 3.12 (a) regarding front row players:

    1. How many replacements/substitutions are allowed in the front row?

    2. How many replacements/substitutions in total allowed in a match?

    Scenario 1: 22 Players in a team

    When 22 players are nominated in the team, with five (5) players nominated as suitably trained and experienced front row players, the team may tactically substitute two (2) players in the front row.

    During a match the team must be able, on the first occasion an injury to a prop or a hooker occur in the match, to replace the injured front row player with a suitably trained and experienced front row player in order to continue with contested scrums in the match.

    The two (2) substituted front row players may replace any front row player when injured provided the replacement front row player is suitably trained for that specific front row position. (Tight Head, Loose Head or Hooker)

    In a match the total number of substitutes and replacements in the front row allowed as per above is four (4).

    If a team has used all its permitted substitutions/replacements and the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the injury, temporarily suspension or sent off a replacement is not allowed.

    Up to five (5) other players may be substituted in the match.

    The total number of substitutes/replacements allowed in the match as per above can thus be up to nine (9).

    Scenario 2: 22/23 Players in a team

    When 22 or 23 players are nominated in the team, with six (6) players nominated as suitably trained and experienced front row players, the team may tactically substitute up to three (3) players in the front row.

    During a match the team must be able, on the first occasion an injury to Loose Head prop, Tight Head prop or Hooker occur in the match, to replace the injured front row player with a suitably trained and experienced front row player in order to be able to continue with contested scrums.

    The three (3) substituted front row players may replace any front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off provided the replacement player is suitably trained and experienced for that specific front row position. (Tight Head, Loose Head or Hooker)

    The total number of substitutes and replacements in the front row allowed as per above is six (6).

    If a team has used all its permitted substitutions/replacements and the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the injury, temporarily suspension or sent off a replacement is not allowed.

    Up to five (5) other players may be substituted in the match.

    The total number of substitutes/replacement allowed in the match as per above can thus be up to eleven (11).
    Comments 93 Comments
    1. Phil E's Avatar
      Phil E -
      As clear as mud!
    1. pwhaling's Avatar
      pwhaling -
      Sure glad they cleared that up for us.
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      they state a limit of nine (or eleven) under excption 2,

      but presumably is any subsequent bleeding, then further substitiions can take place under exception 1?
      (bloodgate anyone?)
    1. beckett50's Avatar
      beckett50 -
      well, if that's clarity .....
    1. Taff's Avatar
      Taff -
      With respect, IMO I think this “clarification” gives the wrong impression, because to an extent it seems to ignore Exception 1, as Crossref mentioned above.

      We start off with 7 subs – 2 FRs and 5 non-FRs. So if both FRs get tactically substituted, they may come back on under Exception 2 ie to replace another FR player who is injured, Ycd or RCd. So we’re up to 4 changes. If all the non-FR subs get tactically substituted as well (for the sake of clarification there are no injuries in this game) in theory the 5 players now sitting on the bench can come back under Exception 1 ie to replace a player with a bleeding or open wound. So, that gives us up to 10 changes ie a total of 14 changes and not “The total number of substitutes / replacements allowed in the match as per above can thus be up to nine (9)” because they assume that none of the non-FR tactical subs can come back on – and we know they can.

      If we start with with 8 subs – 3 FRs and 5 non-FRs, if all 3 FRs get tactically substituted, they may come back on under Exception 2 ie to replace another FR player who is injured, Ycd or RCd. So we’re now up to 6 changes. If all the non-FR subs get tactically substituted as well (again for the sake of clarification there are no injuries in this game) in theory the 5 players now sitting on the bench can come back under Exception 1 ie to replace a player with a bleeding or open wound. So, that gives us up to 10 more changes ie a total of 16 changes so “The total number of substitutes / replacement allowed in the match as per above can thus be up to eleven (11)” would seem to be incorrect, unless I'm missing something?

      In fact, even these are not maximum subs, because we haven’t taken Ycs and temporarily blood replacements into account yet. As Davet pointed out before, the lawbook doesn’t seem to limit the number of times a temporary replacement can come back on to cover a player going off for max 15 minutes to get attended to. As far as I can see, a tactical sub can come back on temporarily for 14mins 59 seconds, go off again …. Then 5 minutes later come back on for max 14mins 59 seconds again, then go off etc etc.

      Even with uncontested scrums, personally I would insist on a 3 man front row.
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      in theory the 5 players now sitting on the bench can come back under Exception 1 ie to replace a player with a bleeding or open wound. So, that gives us up to 10 changes ie a total of 14 changes and not “The total number of substitutes / replacements allowed in the match as per above can thus be up to nine (9)”
      Agreed, as far as it goes.

      But a player with an open or bleeding wound may well return to the fray, and then go off again if it opens up again, and repeat. There is no limit to the number of times he may this require a previously subbed player to stand in for him for a few minutes. - Hence even your 14 is understating the number of theoretical interchanges, to which there is no actual limit at all.
    1. Dixie's Avatar
      Dixie -
      Does anyone feel confident they fully understand what the iRB has said? If so, can they summarise succinctly?
    1. Taff's Avatar
      Taff -
      Quote Originally Posted by Davet View Post
      Agreed, as far as it goes. But a player with an open or bleeding wound may well return to the fray, and then go off again if it opens up again, and repeat. There is no limit to the number of times he may this require a previously subbed player to stand in for him for a few minutes. - Hence even your 14 is understating the number of theoretical interchanges, to which there is no actual limit at all.
      Agreed, but in fairness I did say

      In fact, even these are not maximum subs ... As Davet pointed out before, the lawbook doesn’t seem to limit the number of times a temporary replacement can come back on to cover a player going off for max 15 minutes to get attended to. As far as I can see, a tactical sub can come back on temporarily for 14mins 59 seconds, go off again …. Then 5 minutes later come back on for max 14mins 59 seconds again, then go off etc etc.
      Quote Originally Posted by Dixie View Post
      Does anyone feel confident they fully understand what the iRB has said? If so, can they summarise succinctly?
      Before anyone has a crack at summarising the IRB clarification, it would help if we all felt it was correct. I'm just a Level 2 Ref so I hesitate to say this, but I strongly suspect that the clarification is wrong.
    1. Dixie's Avatar
      Dixie -
      I find it hard to tell whether they are correct, because I'm not entirely sure what they have said.
    1. Dixie's Avatar
      Dixie -
      Starting from the basis that I have found the iRb clarifacation less then clear, I THINK what they said is this:

      Irrespective of the number of STE FR players on the team, there can only be 2 FR substitutions during the game. However, the only limit on the number of FR injury replacements is when you run out of STE players able to replace a broken FR. In deciding whether you have run out, you need to take account of Law 3.7:

      A player may be permanently replaced if injured. If the player is permanently replaced, that player must not return and play in that match.


      So if all players in your squad of 22 are STE as FR, and in the absence of any temporary blood wounds in the game, you can have your two subs (both of whom can later come back on as FR replacements), plus 5 other non-FR subs (all of whom can later come back on as FR replacements), plus by sacrificing non-FR positions, an additional number of FR replacements that leave holes elsewhere on the field.
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      You have to add that the unrestricted freedom to bring back uninjured STE players only applies when scrums are contested, and to keep them contested. If we are already playing uncontested scrums (because the opposition ran out) then there is no special dispensation for STE injuries.
    1. OB..'s Avatar
      OB.. -
      It all makes a good case for Rolling Substitutions.
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      You have to add that the unrestricted freedom to bring back uninjured STE players only applies when scrums are contested,
      makes sense - but can you provide a Law reference?
    1. Taff's Avatar
      Taff -
      Quote Originally Posted by crossref View Post
      You have to add that the unrestricted freedom to bring back uninjured STE players only applies when scrums are contested, and to keep them contested. If we are already playing uncontested scrums (because the opposition ran out) then there is no special dispensation for STE injuries.
      Quote Originally Posted by Davet View Post
      makes sense - but can you provide a Law reference?
      3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH
      (a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
      Exception 1: [to] replace a player with an open or bleeding wound.
      Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play and the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions.
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH
      (a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
      Exception 1: [to] replace a player with an open or bleeding wound.
      Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play AND the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions.


      "And" requires BOTH things to be true before the condition is satisfied.

      If the team has not used all its permitted replacements/subs then the "unless" bit doesn't apply.

      And clearly - by definition - if there is someone who is able to come on then we haven't run out of permitted replacements / subs.
    1. Taff's Avatar
      Taff -
      Quote Originally Posted by Davet View Post
      "And" requires BOTH things to be true before the condition is satisfied. If the team has not used all its permitted replacements/subs then the "unless" bit doesn't apply. And clearly - by definition - if there is someone who is able to come on then we haven't run out of permitted replacements / subs.
      I take your point, but the opposition may have run out of permitted replacements / subs and we may be uncontested because of that.
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      take your point, but the opposition may have run out of permitted replacements / subs and we may be uncontested because of that.
      Even so both conditions must be true.

      1) Are we playing uncontested - YES
      2) has the team concerned run out of permitted replacements - YES

      Then a previously subbed FR player may NOT replace a FR player who is injured or carded

      If either is NO, then the replacement may go ahead.

      But - consider; if condition 2) above were ever true, then there would be no player who could be brought on anyway. Ergo, if you have a player who can come on then condition 2) can never be true.

      Also note: if it is a bleeding wound to a FR player then neither condition 1) nor condition 2) above apply anyway, since bleeding wounds fall under Exception 1 not Exception 2; and the conditions only apply to Exception 2.
    1. Dixie's Avatar
      Dixie -
      Quote Originally Posted by Taff View Post
      3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH
      (a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
      Exception 1: [to] replace a player with an open or bleeding wound.
      Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player when injured, temporarily suspended or sent off unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play and the team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions.
      Quote Originally Posted by Davet View Post
      "And" requires BOTH things to be true before the condition is satisfied.

      If the team has not used all its permitted replacements/subs then the "unless" bit doesn't apply.

      And clearly - by definition - if there is someone who is able to come on then we haven't run out of permitted replacements / subs.
      Quote Originally Posted by Taff View Post
      I take your point, but the opposition may have run out of permitted replacements / subs and we may be uncontested because of that.
      Taff, I think Davet is correct. It is not enough that uncontested scrums are in place in order to negate the exception. Both conditions must be fulfulled. We can re-write the Law more clearly using a bit of punctuation (which some may view as undesirable grammar):

      3.12 SUBSTITUTED PLAYERS REJOINING THE MATCH[/B]
      (a) If a player is substituted, that player must not return and play in that match, even to replace an injured player.
      Exception 1: ...
      Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player ...]unless:
      a) the referee has ordered uncontested scrums prior to the event which led to the front row player leaving the field of play; AND]
      b) the team [surely the one wanting to make the change?] has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions


      I think that leaves us in a situation in which the existence or otherwise of uncontested scrums is irrelevant. If there is a STE person available to be exchanged, that exchange must happen - whether or not there are uncontested scrums.
    1. crossref's Avatar
      crossref -
      Quote Originally Posted by Dixie View Post
      I think that leaves us in a situation in which the existence or otherwise of uncontested scrums is irrelevant. If there is a STE person available to be exchanged, that exchange must happen - whether or not there are uncontested scrums.
      i don't think so.
      - in general substituted players can't normally come back on
      - but there are special dispensations that allows substituted STE players to return to the fray, to keep scrums going
      - but the special dispensation don't apply if scrums are aleady uncontested (because the oppo ran out already)
    1. Davet's Avatar
      Davet -
      but the special dispensation don't apply if scrums are aleady uncontested (because the oppo ran out already)
      and THE team has used all the permitted replacements and substitutions.
      Note the use of the definite as opposed to the indefinite article.

      If it said "A team has used...." the you would be correct. But it doesn't, it says "THE team...", which can only refer to the team wishing to make the replacement.

      It's this sort of thing that means we really do need to be quite aware of grammar and puntuation.
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