7s Referee Checklist

This checklist should be used in addition to learning the IRB Laws & after reviewing the Sevens Refereeing Handbook. Also check out the 15s Checklist.

Sevens vs Fifteens (Quick Summary)

Difference in MIND SET:

  • Possession is paramount
  • Tournament play as opposed to single match.
  • Certain teams choose to avoid contact.
  • There are more quick penalty taps.
  • When the ball goes into touch, it is likely there will be more quick throw ins.


  • Seven players.
  • Two seven-minute halves with one-minute halftime.
  • Ten-minute halves for finals.
  • Two minutes: sin bin.
  • Conversions and penalty kicks are drop kicks only.
  • Kick-offs/restarts are made by team that scored.
    • Every infraction is a free kick.
  • Scrums consist of three players on each side.

Day Before – Morning of Match:
Eat to Fuel the Body and the Mind. Hydrate.
Get plenty of SLEEP, To ensure your physically and mentally ready. Know your personnel needs and ensure they are meet for your performance.

Pre Match Preparation:
Clean Kit. Multiple jersey’s with contrasting colors, black shorts and socks
Properly Groomed.
Organized Kit Bag. Bags for whistles, scorecards, and pens.
Check the Pitch. Walk the pitch. Look at the 5 meters at the touch and try lines to see distance. Are the posts padded, are there proper field markings and flags. How deep is the try zone. Any hazards in the pitch like sprinkler heads, are fences to close etc.

Captains & Pre-Match Chat (Be BRIEF & DIRECT (under 3-5 mins):
This is your chance to set your standards. Use phrases like, I will need to see…, I expect…, I am looking for ….,
Encourage the ball carriers to put the ball out away from them when they are on the ground Encourage the tacklers to immediately move away from the tackled player. “I will need to see the tacklers KEEP moving when you hit the ground”. Both are required by LAW. This will facilitate faster and cleaner ball for the clubs.
Rugby is played on your feet, If they are on the ground, or on players on the ground, they are out of PLAY.
Ensure everyone knows when the ball is out. One hand Scrums, two hands Ruck/Maul
Explain that you will say RUCK, MAUL. Explain what you want to happen when you say those things. RUCK, hands off, from the gate, and last foot. MAUL, from the gate, last foot, keep it up.
Explain you will say RELEASE, TACKLER AWAY, at the tackle.
Tell the defending flyhalf you want to make eye contact at every lineout/scrum. This will keep your mental checklist working at every restart. i.e. Numbers, Receivers, SPACE, etc.
Explain that you need to see all quick taps, they have to happen in front of you, and LEAVE your hands, or it is a scrum to the opposite side.
Ask for questions.

If kick-offs are kicked into the end goal, directly out of bounds or not 10, the receiving team gets a Free Kick from the center of the mid-line.
Almost NEVER play advantage on a dangerous play. Loudly yell “Advantage!” and “Advantage Gained!” to let players know the current status of play.

Your first priority is to get the tackler away from the ball carrier. The tackler must release the ball carrier. Upon hitting the ground in the tackle, tacklers must immediately release the ball and the ball carrier before getting to their feet and playing the ball. Assist tacklers, who help execute a tackle by bringing the ball carrier to ground but stay on their feet, must immediately release the ball and the ball carrier, and must also come through the gate.

Get to the breakdown as soon as possible. Strive to be the third person there, the quicker and better positioned you are at the tackle, the more effective you will be. The ball should be available immediately. If the ball doesn’t come out quickly, something is wrong.

Hookers may bind over OR under the arms of the props, but Props MUST bind to the hooker (not to each other) for the duration of the scrum. Releasing the bind or leaving early is a penalty, warn players early to keep from blowing the whistle often. Make sure every player has their head above the hips. Make sure back lines are 5 meters behind the last foot.

Conversions may be taken from behind the posts IF AND ONLY IF there is sufficient room behind both sets of posts. If so, ALL kicks must be taken from behind the posts. If not, ALL kicks must be taken from in front of the posts. Ensure the kicking team has a chaser in place.

“Its okay if they think you are stupid, but don’t let them think you are blind.” If you do not make a close call, yell “Play on!” to inform you saw something you deemed legal. Be consistent, an obscure rule may come intp play. Its rugby, it happens. Be fair. Most importantly, BE CONSISTENT.

Whistle loudly and assertively. The unheard whistle can create very dangerous play. Quick taps are common in 7s. In competitive games, whistle, give signal, then mark, only then talk. In beginner and maybe social games, if necessary, talk before giving the mark to reduce the need for future whistles or prevent potentially dangerous play.7s Checklist

Sin Bin
The sin bin in 7’s is only two minutes. Don’t forget to check your watch as this time will go FAST!

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