tournament rules

Tournament rules, format, and guidelines

To ensure a fair competition, the Lakefront 7s will use the following tournament rules, code of conduct, eligibility requirements, and other guidelines to govern the event. Tournament director(s) will adjudicate any issues not covered below on a case-by-case basis.

Code of Conduct

All participants, volunteers, match officials and spectators should familiarize themselves with and follow the Personal Code of Conduct.

Breaching the Personal Code of Conduct may lead to removal from event at the discretion of the event organizers as determined on a case-by-case basis.

Referee and volunteer abuse is not acceptable at the Lakefront 7s. Teams found to be abusing referees, match officials and/or event volunteers will be disqualified from the event.

Team Check In

Team representatives must check in at the scorer’s table at least 60 minutes before their first scheduled match. Any team not checked in one hour before their match may be replaced with a team from the waitlist at the discretion of the tournament director(s).

Eligibility & Roster

Roster size — Teams must limit their rosters to 15 players except in the case of for USA Rugby Qualifier matches which have a roster size of only 12. Note that the roster size does not affect the total substitutions in any one match (see below).

Liability Waiver — Each team must give a roster/waiver form to the tournament director before starting play. Players may also be required to give an active membership number from USA Rugby or a similar national governing body.

One player. One team. One Division. — A player may only play for one team in one division. Any team that plays an individual that is not on the team roster or has played for any other team at the event will forfeit the match.

Seniors Brackets — Players in any “seniors” division must meet the minimum age and weight limits for that bracket (35+, 45+, etc…). Players in the Men’s HIPPOs bracket must be 35+ years of age and/or 275 lbs.

High School/U19 Players — High School teams may not roster players aged 19 years and above. In addition, players with college rugby experience are not eligible for a High School team.

Red Cards — A player sent off with a red card for any reason will be considered OUT of the tournament and not permitted to take part for the rest of the event (see all Disciplinary Guidelines below).


As of June 18, 2016 and following World Rugby Sevens Law Variation 3.4, a team may substitute the same player more than once as long as no more than 5 substitutions are made in total in any one game.

Rolling Substitutions Policy

Unlimited, rolling substitutions may be used in any of the the following situations:

  • The match is in a Super Social division.
  • The match is in a HIPPO division.
  • Both teams agree to rolling substitutions in the presence of the referee and before kickoff.

Match Number and Duration

Three (3) matches will be scheduled for each team in the tournament regardless of division. Unforeseen forfeits* may affect the number of matches actually played by each team.

Matches will be played every 20 minutes (i.e. 8:00, 8:20, 8:40, etc…) and will consist of two, 7-minute halves and a 2-minute half-time.

*Any team playing less than three matches due to forfeits should contact the event organizers for a pro-rated refund. 

Team Forfeits

Teams more than 2 minutes late for a scheduled match will forfeit that match.

Competition Format & Tournament Rules

To provide appropriate competition for all participants, the tournament is organized into divisions based on age, gender and skill-level.

Teams in each division are assigned to pools that will compete in Seeding Rounds (a.k.a. “Pool Play”; round-robin format). Each team will play 3 matches in the Seeding Round (barring unforeseen forfeits) in an attempt to earn advancement to the Playoff Round.

The format of the Seeding Round and advancement to the Playoff Rounds is based on the total number of teams in each division and will be displayed on-site during the event.

Semi-final, championship, and consolation (3rd place) matches will decide first, second, and third place in each division at the discretion of the event organizers.

Ranking at the conclusion of the Seeding Round

Teams are awarded the following points after each match in the Seeding Round:

  • Win — 3 match points
  • Draw — 1 match point
  • Loss — 0 match points

Bonus match points are not awarded.

At the conclusion of a divisional Seeding Round, the teams in each pool are ranked one through four based on their cumulative match points, and identified respectively as winner, runner up, third and fourth. For example, here are the results for a typical 16-team division with four pools of 4 teams:

Sample division & pool results for a 16-team division.

Tie breakers

In the event that the match points within a pool for two or more teams are level at the end of the Seeding Round, the following tie-breakers will be used to rank the teams:

  1. Best head to head record
  2. Highest cumulative points scored for among the pool matches
  3. Highest points differential (cumulative points scored for less the cumulative points scored against) among the pool matches
  4. Coin Toss

Playoff Rounds

Semi-final, championship, and consolation (3rd place) matches (where appropriate) will decide first, second, and third place in each division at the discretion of the event organizers. These playoff matches are single elimination with the winners advancing as appropriate.

Either two or four teams from each Division advance to the Playoff Rounds at the discretion of the event organizers. These teams will be selected in the following order as needed:

  • Winners of a divisional pool
  • Runner-up in a divisional pool
  • Third in a divisional pool
  • Fourth in a divisional pool

In the event that multiple teams are eligible for advancement (eg. two teams ranked as runner-up in pool play), the following tie-breakers will be used to select the teams:

  1. Highest cumulative points scored for among the pool matches
  2. Highest points differential (cumulative points scored for less the cumulative points scored against) among the pool matches
  3. Coin Toss

Semifinal match-ups

The teams that meet in each of the semi-finals will be decided by the event organizers on a division-by-division basis. Since there are no cross-over matches between pools in the Seeding Round, semifinal matchups may be assigned randomly when there are more than 8 teams/2 pools in a division.

Sudden Death Playoffs

Matches may not end in a draw in the Playoff Rounds. In case of a drawn match at the end of regulation time a ‘sudden death’ overtime will determine the winner. Sudden death periods will be 5 minutes in duration with a 1-minute break. These periods will continue until a team scores to win the match.

Disciplinary Guidelines

The following guidelines will be used for disciplinary issues:

  • Both players & coaches may receive citations from the referee.
  • Yellow cards will last for 2 minutes.
  • A player sent off (red card) during any match is ineligible for the remainder of the tournament.
  • Two yellow cards in a single match is a red card.

Dispute Resolution Process

Referees are the official score keepers at the Lakefront 7s. Their scores are reported to the scoring tent at the conclusion of the match.

A team may dispute the official score of a match as reported by the referee to the scoring tent under the following conditions:

  1. Less than 30 minutes have passed since the conclusion of the match.
  2. The score has been reported to the scoring tent.

When these two conditions are met, a dispute may be lodged at the scoring tent itself.

Disputes are resolved as follows:

  1. Before a dispute is lodged, the volunteers at the scoring tent will verify that the correct score from the referees match card has been transcribed correctly to the tournament software and scoring board.
  2. If this review does not resolve the issue, an official dispute is lodged with the scoring tent who will contact the Tournament Director(s) and/or the dispute resolution committee.
  3. A Tournament Director will arbitrate the dispute using the following guidelines:
    • The arbitration must not cause any delay to the event schedule.
    • The Tournament Director or the dispute resolution committee will attempt to contact the opposing coach, as well as the referee, to review their scoring notes and/or match card.
    • Abuse and/or unprofessional behavior by the team filing the dispute will automatically conclude the process and the score reported by the referee will stand. And neither team will be rewarded for abusive behavior.
    • In the absence of clear and obvious evidence supporting the dispute, the score reported by the referee will stand.
  4. The Tournament Director and/or the dispute resolution committee will be the only arbiter of disputes, and their decisions may not be appealed.
  5. The Lakefront 7s upholds a zero-tolerance policy on abuse, including the dispute filing and resolution process. Per our Code of Conduct, participants that abuse officials and/or volunteers may be asked to leave the event, and their team(s) may be disqualified at the discretion of the tournament director and/or the dispute resolution committee.