TRRA Continuing Education for Referees #1 – Not Releasing

After a great weekend of rugby, Texas Rugby Referee RATO group decided to start a weekly (or often) post that will cover interpretations of laws from TRRA examples. We will use the TRU Facebook Page as a way to discuss and unify our refereeing in Texas. This week we wanted to cover “Not Releasing”.

Example: Red player was brought to ground, but was not held by the Blue Player. Red player did not release the ball and continued play. Referee penalized Red player for Not Releasing.

What would you have done in this situation? Allowed play or penalized?


The key language in the description is that the Red player was “not held” by the tackler. Since they were not held, they do not have to release the ball and may get up and continue play.  As referees our goal is to have continuous play, with promotion towards quick ball. We should work hard to quickly determine if a player has been held and/or tackled.  The definition of Law 15 makes this clear: “A tackle occurs when the ball carrier is held by one or more opponents and is brought to ground. A ball carrier who is not held is not a tackled player and a tackle has not taken place.”