Practical application reminders for TZOs

Even with the TZ protocol relatively straightforward and, given that there is only one Law (Law 3 – NUMBER OF PLAYERS – THE TEAM),we are concerned with when it comes to substitutions and replacements, out of the 22 Laws in the Laws of the Game, given scenarios and extended pressure from the teams and the crowd can make it a tough job for all involved.

Therefore, the following practical application reminders (please always refer to the original test of the Laws of the Game) should serve to ensure compliance in the most common situations:

Be clear in Law...

  • Replacements - replaces an injured player.
  • Substitutions - substitutes a player for tactical reasons.
  • There exist two exceptions if a player is substituted:

  • Exception 1: a substituted player may replace a player with an open or bleeding wound
  • Exception 2: a substituted player may replace a front row player unless the referee has ordered uncontested scrums
  • In Sevens, a substituted player may only replace a player with a bleeding or open wound and the Law 3 front row exceptions don’t apply.
  • In U19, if a team nominates 22 players, it must have at least six players who can play in the front row (loosehead prop, hooker and tighthead prop); if a team nominates more than 22 players there must also be three players who can play in lock position.
  • The onus to define a suitably trained and experienced player available for the front row is with the team management of this player.

Be clear in protocol...

  • The protocol is designed to service both teams and to speed up the game. It is therefore crucial to make the best of efforts to establish a relation with both team managements.
  • Always deliver a coherent and consistent instruction by all technical zone management to the two teams as part of the pre-match instructions.
  • Replacements and substitutions can only be accepted if the information on the subs card is complete.
  • Timing substitution calls to the referee is crucial. Before the match, agree with the referee on a protocol and wait for stoppage in play before communicating with referee:
  • Observe play to stop before calling
  • Beware of penalty kicks
  • Observe scrum process to call before teams ready
  • Observe lineout process to call before teams ready
  • Ensure referee is not dealing with other incidents
  • Ensure referee is not busy with management issues
  • Advise team colour and number of player to be substituted
  • To ensure that players exiting or entering the field of play do so from the halfway line, allow the players to use a halfway line corridor between the two TZs to do so.
  • Once a substituted player starts moving and is clearly identified, send substitute player on.
  • Playing time for the sin-bin (2 minutes in Sevens and 10 minutes in Fifteens) starts once the referee blows time on after the award of the card.
  • Actual time is the elapsed time, where playing time is the time that has been played excluding time lost.
  • To ensure the sin-binned player is prepared to return, allow the player to stand and/or warm up close to the designated place.
  • A restart will occur if the team scoring a try within the last minute (30 seconds in Sevens) takes the kick with time on the clock. The match will end at the next stoppage within Law. Time is taken from the strike on the ball. A time-out for substitution purposes will not affect this.
  • If the referee is injured, he/she is replaced by the Assistant Referee number 1.
  • If one of the two Assistant Referees is injured, he/she is replaced by a member of the Technical Zone management (normally SC1 or SC2). The functional roles of this TZM member will then be shared.

The following diagrams indicate dimensions of the Technical Zones in Sevens and Fifteens and show the allowed personnel in these areas.

Fifteens Technical Zones

Maximum of four persons allowed in the TZ

Alternative Fifteens TZ set-up

Please note: Maximum of x 2 water carriers per TZ in Fifteens

Sevens Technical Zones

Maximum of nine persons allowed in the TZ



Water carrier


Substitution Controller

Technical Zone Manager


Time Keeper

Side Line Manager

Medic / Coach

Team Manager


Physio / Trainer / Medic

Temporary Suspension chair

  1. Each Team is allowed to have the following personnel in the Technical Zone during their Matches: Coach, Team Manager, Physiotherapist and five reserve Players. One additional person who is either a medical or a coaching member of the Team and whose responsibility has previously been notified to the Tournament Director as per Section 4.2 of this Terms of Participation, (and listed on Form C in Section 15) will be permitted in the Technical Zone.
  2. A maximum of three non-playing personnel are allowed to enter the field of play for the purposes of water carrying (which is only permitted when play is stopped for an injury or when a try has been scored). The Manager and Coach are not permitted to act as water carriers at any time. The water carriers must wear the Technical Zone bibs provided by the tournament organiser at all times. 
  3. Except as specified in (ii) or as otherwise allowed under the Laws and regulations of the Game, all non-playing personnel must remain inside the Technical Zone, which will be clearly marked.