Referee Development Director responds to IRB announcement

BOULDER, Colo. -- Following the International Rugby Board's announcement Tuesday on the changes to the new scrum trial, USA Rugby Referee Development Director Ed Todd released a statement regarding the actions to be taken both on and off of the field for match officials of USA Rugby. The full IRB release can be found below.

"When the IRB put into place the trial law regarding the scrum engagement sequence [Law 20.1(g)], a demonstration media was provided in which a suggested implementation included the referee communicating to the player putting in the ball that he, the referee, was satisfied with the engagement, and it was okay to put in the ball," Todd said. "This is now practiced using the phrase 'yes nine.' Recently, at a meeting between IRB elite referees and coaches at Marcousis, it was decided to abandon the verbal communication and go forward with non-verbal. This information was recently posted on the IRB website with the following closing statement: "[a]s with the original protocol, it is up to individual Unions to decide whether this change will be adopted at levels below elite Rugby."

"It should be emphasized that the verbal communication is not law, but a suggested protocol.

"At the present time, all referees in the United States are using the verbal communication. USA Rugby's Laws Committee and the Rugby Committee are now reviewing this new possibility, and a policy decision will be made. However, this will not happen before next week as it requires full consideration, which must not be rushed.

"In the mean time, the "yes nine" communication will stay in effect."

IRB Further Empowers Referees at Scrums

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. This is in accordance with the relevant law (20.5 Throwing the Ball Into the Scrum).

The change is effective immediately and will include this week's Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup matches in the northern hemisphere (January 9-12). It will also include the next rounds of other elite competitions, including the Top 14 in France (January 24), Aviva Premiership in England (February 7-9) and the Rabo Direct Pro 12 in other parts of Europe (February 7-9).

As with the original protocol, it is up to individual Unions to decide whether this change will be adopted at levels below elite Rugby.