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Time Keeping Laws

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    Posted: 24 October 2006 at 12:37pm

Following a Request from Quagmire regarding injury time, here are the IRB laws on timekeeping  with the relevant subsection highlighted.

Law 5 Time


A match lasts no longer than eighty minutes plus time lost, extra

time and any special conditions. A match is divided into two

halves each of not more than forty minutes playing time.


After half time the teams change ends. There is an interval of not

more than 10 minutes. The length of the interval is decided by the

match organiser, the Union or the recognised body which has

jurisdiction over the game. During the interval the teams, the

referee and the touch judges may leave the playing enclosure.


The referee keeps the time but may delegate the duty to either or

both the touch judges and/or the official time-keeper, in which

case the referee signals to them any stoppage of time or time lost.

In matches without an official time-keeper, if the referee is in

doubt as to the correct time the referee consults either or both the

touch judges and may consult others but only if the touch judges

cannot help.


Time lost may be due to the following:

(a) Injury. The referee may stop play for not more than one minute

so that an injured player can be treated, or for any other permitted


The referee may allow play to continue while a medically trained

person treats an injured player in the playing area or the player

may go to the touchline for treatment.

If a player is seriously injured and needs to be removed from the

field of play, the referee has the discretion to allow the necessary

time to have the injured player removed from the field-of-play.

(b) Replacing players’ clothing. When the ball is dead, the referee

allows time for a player to replace or repair a badly torn jersey,

shorts or boots. Time is allowed for a player to re-tie a boot-lace.

(c) Replacement and substitution of players. Time is allowed

when a player is replaced or substituted.

(d) Reporting of foul play by a touch judge. Time is allowed

when a touch judge reports foul play.


Any playing time lost is made up in the same half of the match.


A match may last more than eighty minutes if the Match

Organiser has authorised the playing of extra time in a drawn

match in a knock-out competition.


(a) In international matches, play always lasts eighty minutes plus lost


(b) In non-international matches a Union may decide the length of a


(c) If the Union does not decide, the teams agree on the length of a

match. If they cannot agree, the referee decides.

(d) The referee has the power to end the match at any time, if the

referee believes that play should not continue because it would be


(e) If time expires and the ball is not dead, or an awarded scrum or

lineout has not been completed the referee allows play to continue

until the next time that the ball becomes dead. If time expires and

a mark, free kick or penalty kick is then awarded, the referee allows

play to continue.

(f) If time expires after a try has been scored the referee allows time

for the conversion kick to be taken.

(g) When weather conditions are exceptionally hot and/or humid, the

referee, at his discretion, will be permitted to allow one water break

in each half. This water break should be no longer than one

minute. Time lost should be added on at the end of each half. The

water break should normally be taken after a score or when the ball

is out of play near the half way line.

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