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Latest Law Clarifications For Referees

RFU Archive

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Throughout the season the International Rugby Board provides clarifications on various laws in the game. Referees need to keep up to date with law clarifications in rugby union, so please read the latest IRB law clarifications on their website.

Law clarification from the IRB 

IRB Scrum Directive as of January 7, 2014

In a minor revision to the current protocol surrounding the ongoing scrum engagement global trial, the International Rugby Board has confirmed that referees will use non-verbal communication to indicate to the scrum half when the ball can be thrown into the scrum.

Up to now as part of the scrum trial, the referee has told the scrum half that the scrum is ready for the put-in by the use of the phrase “yes nine”. But following an initial review, including consultation with national coaches and referee managers, it has been decided that referees will adopt a non-verbal communication to scrum halves for the introduction of the ball in accordance with the relevant law (20.5 Throwing the Ball Into the Scrum).

With the new procedure now the verbal “yes nine” has been dropped:

If the scrum half is on the far side of the scrum the referee will raise his hand and nod his head in a yes motion when he believes that there is sufficient stability for the ball to be put in.

If the referee is on the putting in side, he will give the nine a tap on the back when he believes that there is sufficient stability for the ball to be put in.

Referees need to continue to referee all of the other elements of the scrum trial including: pushing before the ball is introduced to the scrum by the nine and clear and obvious put-ins that are not straight.

Guidance on the new procedure while refereeing Youth or Women’s Rugby (PDF 44kB)


Scrum engagement sequence

The Under 10s, Under 11s and Under 12s Rules of Play set out at pages 212 to 230 in the 2013-2014 RFU Handbook incorrectly set out the scrum engagement sequence. The correct and current scrum engagement sequence that applies to all levels of the Game (including Age Grade Rugby) is “crouch, bind, set”. Section 8(d) of the Under 10s Rules of Play (page 217) and section 8(b) of the Under 11s/Under 12s Rules of Play (page 226) are therefore amended accordingly.  

Players, coaches and referees are reminded that on the invitation to “set” the front rows should engage and hold. There should be no drive/push on or after the “set” call and before the balls is fed in.

For further information on the scrum engagement sequence please see:

To access the correct and current version of the Rules of Play please visit: