Rolling Subsitutions and Interchanges

13.5.13 Divisional Organising Committees may, in their discretion, permit rolling substitutions in League and Cup Matches at Level 5 and below. If the relevant Divisional Organising Committee decides to implement rolling substitutions such implementation must be in accordance with Regulations 13.5.14 to 13.5.21 below.

13.5.14 In a League or Cup Match, where consent has been given by the appropriate Divisional Organising Committee and subject to Regulations (including, without limitation, 13.5.9 and 13.5.10) each team shall be permitted to use rolling substitutions of not more than the maximum number of the player interchanges (“Permitted Player Interchanges”) set out in the table below:

13.5.15 In a Play Off Match, Permitted Player Interchanges will only be permitted where both participating teams have played their previous Matches with Permitted Player Interchanges.

13.5.16 After the Permitted Player Interchanges have been made no other replacements, substitutions or Player Interchanges will be permitted for any reason including injuries and in the event that a player is injured the team will play with one less player and with uncontested scrums in the event that this involves a front row player and the game cannot continue safely with contested scrums.

13.5.17 Player Interchanges replace the “blood bin”. If a Player has an open wound and thus has to leave the field, and the team has used all of its Permitted Player Interchanges, that Player may not be replaced and the team shall continue with a maximum of fourteen players. The Player is permitted to return once the wound has been treated and the bleeding stopped.

13.5.18 Not more than two Player Interchanges per team may occur at any one time and may only occur during a stoppage in play and with the knowledge of the Referee who is entitled in his/her sole opinion to refuse to allow or postpone a Player Interchange if he/she believes either that the Player Interchange would prevent the opposition from restarting the game quickly or where a Player has been injured or that it would not be safe for the replacement Player who has been previously injured to play in the match.

13.5.19 A Player who is a replacement shall not be entitled to take a kick at goal until a passage of play has taken place since that Player took to the field of play.

13.5.20 A Player who suffers two injuries in a match which has necessitated that Player being replaced on each occasion is not permitted to act as a replacement following the second injury.

13.5.21 Under dispensation provided to Unions by the International Rugby Board, where these rolling substitutions Regulations conflict with the Laws of the Game these Regulations shall take precedence.

Front Row Logic Tree (Man off Rule)


It is worth clarifying that an interchange occurs when one player leaves the field and is replaced by another (this applies in all circumstances).

Question 1:

A player leaves the field with a cut and is replaced. After treatment, he returns to the field of play. (I think this is fairly simple. Our interpretation is that this is 2 interchanges)


2 interchanges. This is a simple replacement of the blood bin by interchanges.

Question 2:

A Prop forward is subject of a yellow card. A scrum down is called and a qualified front row player comes onto the pitch for the scrum (under safety regulations) and the fullback goes off to keep the playing numbers at 14. At the end of the ten minute period, the fullback comes back onto the field of play and the prop who was given the yellow card also comes back on to replace the one who took his place during the ten minute sin-binning. How many interchanges, if any, does this count as. (I’m afraid this one left so many of us with different opinions that I won’t try and make any suggestions as to the interpretation.)


2 interchanges:

  • Prop is yellow carded and leaves the field – No interchange
  • Fullback leaves the field and replacement prop enters – 1 interchange
  • Prop returns from sin bin – No interchange
  • Replacement prop leaves the field and wing returns – 1 interchange
  • If a team has no interchanges left and a prop is sin binned the game continues with uncontested scrums (unless a player already on the field can safely prop)
  • The player leaving the field and the player entering the field do not have to happen at the same time, but usually will.

Example: Player leaves the field to be assessed for injury – team do not want to use an interchange and are hoping that the injured player can return very quickly – No interchange. It becomes obvious after five minutes that the player needs further treatment, so a replacement is sent on – interchange is triggered.

Question 3:

If the situation arose that a front row player was injured, after the allowed eight rolling replacements had been used, but there was a replacement front row player on the bench, would a replacement be permitted, to ensure contested scrums had to be implemented. Also at this point would the replacing team also have to reduce their numbers by one player, thus not gaining an advantage of the extra replacement.


No, if all the interchanges have been used, a further replacement is not permitted. The team will have to play with 14 men and if there is no other specialist front row player on the pitch already who can and is prepared to step into the front row, the match will also have to be played with uncontested scrums.

Question 4:

If the situation arose that a front row player was injured, after the allowed eight rolling replacements had been used, and the replacement front row was on the park as a replacement for another position, should that player be moved to the front row to allow contested scrums to continue to the advantage of the opposition.


This would be a tactical decision for the affected team. If the team is down to 14 men (due to no further permitted interchanges) and there is already another specialist front row player on this pitch playing a non-front row position, the team could decide to move that player to the front row so the match can continue with contested scrums or leave him where he is and go uncontested. In this situation, it could be argued that a team with a weak scrum would welcome the opportunity to go uncontested but the trade-off would be that they play with 14 men.

This would prevent a XV gaining advantage from going uncontested when coming under pressure.