June International Tours

TOUCHPAUSE to be one word



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A memo has gone out from Paddy O’Brien, the International Rugby Board’s refereeing manager, on practical matters regarding the application of the Laws of the Game. This includes the new law on the engagement procedure at scrums.

The instructions concern application at the 2007 Rugby World Cup and include aspects of scrumming, line-outs, the tackle and the maul.

In the matter of engagement procedure at scrums, the four-word command is to be retained but touch and pause are to be said simultaneously.

On the scrum procedure, O’Brien writes: “1. Concerns have been raised by some countries about the untidiness of the New Scrum Law and the effect it has had on the game.

“The Laws Project Group and the Rugby Committee both discussed the subject and viewed video footage. Some countries have adapted better than others but it is important we get uniformity before the RWC. It is the view that at this stage the law is to remain as is but that the timings of the cadence need to be addressed as per the attached memorandum.”

The following is the full instruction:


“The referee to make the mark for the scrum and when teams are assembling he is to call CROUCH

“Both teams are to form in the Crouch position immediately after this call.

“The Referee may then call TOUCH PAUSE Simultaneously. (Please note he is not to say “Touch and Pause” but must stick to the law of “TOUCH PAUSE”).

“Once the referee is satisfied that the touch has been completed satisfactorily then he will call ENGAGE .”


There is concern about the amount of time the referees are holding teams in a crouch position and then the delay in calling the other 3 phases.

The only delay should be that the referee dictates the Engage call, not the teams.

Due attention is to be given to Front row binding and the scrum feed post engagement.

On the vexed matter of scrum feeds, O’Brien writes: “There is a lot of media publicity regarding the lack of action taken by some referees at the persistent not straight feeds to the scrum. It is fair to say some match officials are doing their best to manage this appropriately whilst others still seem to be ignoring the reminders they have been given.

“The referee Selection Committee have made it quite clear that referees who ignore this area of the game will adversely affect their chances of play off games at RWC 2007. I can’t make it any clearer than that.”

On other aspects O’Brien writes:


“With the line-outs now being a very competitive set phase Referees are reminded to police the gaps and to sanction offending. Referees are not to ask players to widen the gap at every line-out. This slows the game down. After setting the standard at the possible chance then teams are to be free kicked if they fail to comply.

“Early Jumping is also now becoming prevalent both by the throwing and non throwing team. Referees are asked to manage this initially and then sanction accordingly if it persists.”


“Serious concerns were expressed at the Referee Selection meeting concerning the unequal refereeing of the Possessing team vs the Non-Possessing team at the Maul.

“Both teams are to be refereed the same and vigilance is being asked to police illegal entry by both the ball-carrying team and the defending team.

“There have been numerous cases in high profile matches lately where players who are legally caught up in the Maul are being told to retire when they are entitled to be on the opposition side. Referees are asked to referee the law accordingly in this phase.

Concern was also expressed regarding the Illegal pulling of players from the Maul by their opponents. This practice is to be sanctioned accordingly.”


“Referees are reminded of the policy agreed at the Lensbury 2005 C

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