TJ Advice (In Time For Cup Comps)

Simon Griffiths

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In January, we had the Gloucester & District Referees' Society Annual Conference, during which we had an imformative talk from one of our many top officials :p , Bob Mullis (Elite TJ).

I'll write up the key points from his hand-out in key blocks.

Hopefully this will be handy as most Counties move into Combination Cup season!

Simon Griffiths

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  • Is it a split kick? This will affect whether you're deep or up on the 10m line.
  • Watch the contact, not the ball.

Kicks in Open Play
  • Watch the kicker - was there a late/dangerous challenge?
  • Where was the kicker (in/out of 22)?
  • Keep eye on chasers/defenders - is there any shirt pulling etc.?
  • Again, watch the contact if a player goes up for the ball.

Simon Griffiths

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Touch Judging - Important
  • Has the ball crossed the vertical plane of the touch line? - Where!?
  • Has the ball carrier touched/crossed the touch line?
  • Catcher near line - is he in/out of the field of play?
  • What happened to the ball when it went out? (Spectator throwing it back - no quick throw etc.)
  • Is the quick throw allowed? If so, was it taken correctly?

  • Is the gap there/does it stay there?
  • Hooker in correct place - if not, tap him on the shoulder and ask him to take a step.
  • Hooker delaying the throw? Speak to ref when appropriate.
  • Jumper/support player taken out? Foul play, flag it.
  • Did the ball go 5m? Keep flag up if it didn't.
  • Was the throw straight (if ref wants help in that area)?
  • Obstruction in 5m channel.
  • Take a couple of steps when it set (opposite side to ref) and look low and across the line.
  • Particularly far TJ, make sure teams are 10m back.

Simon Griffiths

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  • Watch front row engagement/binding, talk to ref if necessary at suitable moment.
  • Back row binding, full arm etc. If near, tell him. Again mention to ref.
  • Other things (i.e. body angles/scrum half/flanker obstruction) - pattern? Tell ref.
  • Watch the off-side at the back foot for the backs.
  • Watch a collapsed scrum closely - who caused it? Look for afters.

  • Watch coming in at the side. Again, if there is a trend, pass it on to the ref.
  • Players on their feet/legal rucking.
  • Maul - are players lifting legs/grabbing heads? Foul play, flag it.
  • Try to spot the player who brings a maul down. Again, foul play.
  • As the ruck/maul finishes, check for afters etc.
  • Always watch for foul play (e.g. stamping), flag it.

Simon Griffiths

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Open Play
  • Passer - was he challenged late?
  • Receiver/supporters - challenged early/obstructed?
  • Tackles - legal?
  • Is defender obstructed/held back?
  • Is referee unsighted if a clear offence happens?

Kicks at Goal
  • Can I see the ball, post and other TJ?
  • Whose call is it? (Back/far-side TJ - front TJ, turn to check).
  • Is there anything to say to anyone - remind a hooker to stay on the line etc.

Simon Griffiths

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Foul Play
  • Can I prevent it? If not, at least see it.
  • What did I see - remember it.
  • Do I assume (usually WRONGLY) that the referee has seen what I have?
  • Do I need to stop the game - stick the flag in!
  • If play continues, pay attention and remember what has happened.
  • What will I say to ref? What happened? Why/How? Who - team/number? Be clear and concise.
  • Keep your hands on your flag and use calm language - definitely don't demonstrate what happened/swear!

Simon Griffiths

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It has been altered slightly. I've removed a couple of points which are irrelevant at our level and included some extra advice from various refs/TJs.

I'll add thelast few notes tonight.


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Simon, great post. Not to steal your thunder, but I'll add my £0.02 as I typed up some notes from a presentation at the start of a season and posted them in another thread. Copied and pasted across:

Pablo said:
Typed up notes from a society presentation on TJing:

Your priorities as a touch judge are :
1. Ball in touch
2. Foul play - in
exceptional cases, this may become your top priority, but let's hope it
doesn't come to that!
3. Everything else is a bonus.

Specific points:

1. Ball in touch.

- The most important point I can make here is for you to raise your flag quickly. Even if you are a long way out of position, it is important that you let me know that the ball has gone into touch.
- Get to the line-of-touch as quickly as possible - do not give the players the opportunity to dictate where the ball has gone out.
- Read the Laws - particularly Laws 6, 10 and 19, and make certain that you know under what circumstances a quick throw-in is permitted and when you should keep your flag raised.
- When the ball has gone into touch, bring up your flag arm. When a quick throw-in IS NO LONGER ALLOWED, then you should bring up your non-flag arm towards the throwing team.

2. How can you contribute to the match?

- You are there to have fun - smile!
- You are part of the referee's support network. You may be required as a pressure valve in the game. Don't be surprised if the ref makes a tough decision, received howls of protest and then tells the players that it was called in from touch!
- Remember that you are not the referee - if the ref ignores a signal you are giving, let it go!
- Communication with each other and the ref is vital - you are operating as part of a team.
- Keep the touch line clear of obstructions - this will make your job easier and safer.
- Concentrate at all times!

3. Image is important.

- Look professional when you turn up.
- Look professional during the game.
- Look professional when you leave.
- When you are a safe distance from the club, you are free to stop looking professional.

4. Positioning

- You are responsible for managing the 15m channel, so keep up with play as much as possible.
- For kick-offs, if the kick is towards you, you should be on the receiving 10m line. If you are one the far side, you should be on the receiving 22m line. Lead and trail appropriately.
- Generally, the nearside TJ should be level with or slightly ahead of play; the far side TJ should be trailing and checking the behaviour of the straggling players behind the ref's back.
- Linger behind play if many players are still close together at a breakdown.
- Be vigilant and check a player's number if he does something illegal!
- When play is in the near corner, get into the touch-in-goal area and look back down the field - pay attention to the touch-in-goal line and the corner flag. Similarly, if a team is kicking a penalty kick for touch close to the goal-line, stand on the corner flag and simply watch which shoulder the ball goes over to decide whether it was touch or touch-in-goal.
- When marking 10m at a penalty, look for each other and make sure you match each other's position - take the mark of whoever gets there first, even if you think their idea of 10m is wrong, back each other up.
- Raise your NON-FLAG ARM at the 10m mark and lower it when all defending players are onside. The flag should not be used to mark 10m - IMAGE!
Also, farside TJ should mark 10m for defending backs at lineouts.
- In general, try to be wherever the ref is not or cannot be.

5. Kicks at goal

- For kicks at goal, get to the posts quickly BUT do not run to the posts until you can clearly see that a try HAS BEEN GIVEN - it looks bad, and remember that image is important.
- Decide before the game whether you are going to swap sides after each kick at goal. If so, do it BEFORE the kick has been taken - it will give you more time to get back into position for the restart.
- One near the posts, one back deep.
- Avoid obstructing charging players.
- If the sun is in your eyes, stand in front of the posts in-field instead.
Agree whether the kick is good BEFORE raising your flags. Put your flags up or down together - IMAGE!

6. Foul play

- Know what constitutes foul play. Read Law 10.
- Signal it even if you think the ref has seen it - bring your flag up to horizontal pointing in-field for a few seconds and repeat the signal when play stops.
- Keep running touch until play has stopped.
- Mirror the other TJ - the ref might not have seen him, so if your partner puts the flag up, do the same and tell the ref that the call was from the other side of the field. Before reporting foul play, prepare what you are going to say to the ref - it may form the basis for a foul play report after the game.
Pay particular attention to WHO (get a NUMBER) did WHAT, to WHOM and WHERE.
- While reporting foul play, hold the flag in boths hands behind your back - this will help you avoid the temptation of gesticulating at the players involved.
- Do not hesitate in recommending a sanction if the ref did not see the incident.

7. Advisory Signals

- These are your lowest priority - if you carry out all your other duties
well and yet do not make a single advisory signal, you willl have had a
good game.
- Make certain that your signal will be seen - if you are doing windmill signals for a knock-on while the ref's back is turned, it undermines his credibility and that of the Team of Three.
- Calls you can reasonably be expected to make are: scrummage pulled down, offsides, hands in ruck (but only really in the 15m channel), knock-on/forward pass. There may be the odd one or two others, but almost everything else should be left to the referee's interpretation - you will most likely have different views and hence different opinions, so leave it to his discretion.


, Resident Club Coach
really interesting stuff - an excellent read for a technical perspective.

A question :
WRT kickoffs and being on 10m if its your side etc what do TJs do if the side kicking off split their pack e.g. provide a pod to both left and right? Presumably both TJs on the 10m?


Simon Griffiths

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That's certainly how I'd play it. It's much better to be there incase the contact area is on your side. It's unlikely that a kicker can stick one 40 yards upfield so high that there will be a contact area in the 22. I also suspect that, given the time, the receiving side will clear towards the 10m line anyway.

NB. I shall finish the checklist (including the necessary alterations) some time in the next 24hrs.

Robert Burns

Staff member
England actually practised this, Putting the kick off so high that it lands under the posts, and is up for so long that the england players can put the catcher into an instant maul. Law says the scrum goes to kicking off team.

They put it into practice and all went to plan, except one minor problem. The ref gave the scrum to the defence, I gather he either forgot, or didn't realise kick offs go to the kicking team. Ah well, we're all human!

Simon Griffiths

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There are only a very few kickers in the world that could manage a kick with that amount of height and distance, most Premiership kickers can't manage it and they practice all day! Luckily we probably won't have that problem.


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Robert Burns said:
England actually practised this, Putting the kick off so high that it lands under the posts, and is up for so long that the england players can put the catcher into an instant maul. Law says the scrum goes to kicking off team.
I'm confused. I thought the exception was that if a team recieves a kickoff (drop-out or kick off) and a maul forms immediately, the team who brought the ball into the maul recieves the put-in at the scrum. For all other instances it is the team who DID NOT have possession at the start of the Maul that has the put-in at the scrum.

Maybe this was lost in Translation across the Ocean...I've not got my Lawbook handy to look this up, so I'll have a look at it when I get home.



, Advises in England
Bryan - you can find the laws on the IRB website

The relevant bit is 17.6 (h):-
If a player catches the ball direct from an opponent’s kick, except from a kick-off or a drop-out, and the player is immediately held by an opponent, a maul may form. Then if the maul remains stationary, stops moving forward for longer than 5 seconds, or if the ball becomes unplayable, and a scrum is ordered, the team of the ball catcher throws in the ball.
(my emphasis)


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The relevant bit is 17.6 (h):-
If a player catches the ball direct from an opponent’s kick, except from a kick-off or a drop-out, and the player is immediately held by an opponent, a maul may form. Then if the maul remains stationary, stops moving forward for longer than 5 seconds, or if the ball becomes unplayable, and a scrum is ordered, the team of the ball catcher throws in the ball.
(my emphasis)[/QUOTE]

You're right, I could've gone on the IRB website, but I thought "Meh, I can wait until i get home". Thanks for the help though!

Moving along to the main point: England are confusing themselves- no wonder they're done so badly, they don't even know the Laws! If they kickoff to another team and a maul forms immediately, they DO NOT get the put-in at the scrum...

Take that Mr. Robinson!

Simon Griffiths

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  • Is it 'safe' to leave the players at an incident/old ruck? (Trailing etc.)
  • Call to wingers etc. to watch you for 10m. Arm up at 45 not parallel to ground. If it's up, they can see it.
  • Do I need to go deep or can I watch the 10m? (Are they going to take a quick tap?)
  • If near corner, stand over the corner flag so you can see if it's touch or if it's dead.

!!!100 posts!!! :eek:

Simon Griffiths

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Communication - With Referee
  • Is it a trend or a key incident? (Trend, tell him at stoppage. Key incident, stick your flag in).
  • Does the referee need to know, or will it take his mind off important factors?
  • When should I tell him? (Line-out? When he's near me for scrum? - What you need to tell him may dictate this.)
  • How do I phrase it? Clear, concise and accurate. If needed, number and team. Don't wave your arms around and imitate what's happened!
  • Can I help him by telling him where a scrum/PK etc. is from advantage/long kick?

Made this bit up on the spot:
Communication - With Players
  • At lineouts and PKs particularly, use the wingers and centres as much as the no. 10 to get the sides back 10m.
  • Talk to players if a ruck is by you - check this with ref first - but NEVER say, 'that's fine' as the referee might not hink so!
  • Don't explain a referees decision to a player as it may have been for something else.