HERTFORDSHIRE AND MIDDLESEX MERIT TABLES
Rules and Regulations
Issue 10 – September 2012
The Merit Tables shall be known as the Hertfordshire/Middlesex Merit Tables
These Merit Tables have been inaugurated with the following objectives: -
a) To encourage and facilitate a greater number of regular Saturday games for players of the participating clubs, who are not involved in the ‘RFU League’ structure.
b) To encourage continued camaraderie between clubs and players at the local level.
c) To provide a more competitive edge to matches
d) To prepare younger players for the competitive involvement in league rugby.
e) To bring new players into the game.
The merit tables shall be supervised by Hertfordshire Rugby Football Union (“supervising constituent body”), who shall appoint an Organiser to administer the merit tables.
The Organiser shall administer the merit tables and make such decisions, as deemed appropriate, to run an efficient and fair competition. The Organiser shall have the power to co-opt additional members for specific purposes. Decisions of the Organiser are subject to review under the appeals procedure.
The Organiser shall have the power to alter or amend these rules and regulations, when necessary, but will advise and seek comment from all participating clubs of changes, if appropriate.
The merit table may consist of one or more divisions at the discretion of the Organiser.
Each club eligible to join the competition must appoint at least one ‘representative’ to act as their liaison officer. To ease and speed communications, the liaison officer will have direct access to e-mail. This method will ease the work load of the Organiser and ensure that effective communication exists between all clubs and the Organiser.
To participate in any of the merit tables, clubs must be members of the Rugby Football Union (“eligible clubs”).
Eligible clubs shall be invited to participate in the merit table by the Organiser. Participation shall be by invitation only.
Only clubs affiliated to the Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire or Middlesex County Unions and within “the West Hertfordshire/North Middlesex Area” shall be invited to enter the competition, unless a special request is received from a team that would benefit the competition. This area is generally defined as within 20 miles of the A1/M1/A505 area, such that no side should have to travel more than 40 minutes to fulfil a fixture
Clubs may not have more than one side in a division of the merit tables.
All matches in the competition shall be played under the Laws of the Rugby Football Union and shall comply with the appropriate byelaws, resolutions and regulations of the RFU.
The Organiser shall draw up the fixture schedule for the season, which will normally be based upon each merit table consisting of up to twelve teams, playing on a ‘home and away’ basis, with most games being played on designated RFU League or Cup Saturdays.
Participating clubs may mutually rearrange the fixture venues, where pitch availabilities clash. Any such changes must be notified to the Organiser by 31st August each season. Where a team joins the Competition after the start of the season or replaces an existing side, they will be allowed one month to mutually rearrange games where there is lack of pitch availability.
In the event of a dispute between clubs as to when or where a game should be played, the game shall be played on the date originally specified by the Organiser, or any other reasonable date that the Organiser deems suitable.
The home side shall be responsible for the organising of the referee and paying expenses. The home side shall use its best endeavours to secure the services of a referee from the London Society of Rugby Football Union Referees, the Hertfordshire Society of Rugby Football Union Referees, or the Buckinghamshire Referees Society; depending upon which Society they are in membership.
In the event of the appropriate Society being unable to appoint a referee, the home side shall be responsible for providing a competent referee. Each team should provide a touch judge.
The home side shall be responsible for informing the referee of the rules and regulations of the competition which effect playing, especially those referring to uncontested scrums.
If in the opinion of the referee there is a colour clash, the home side shall change their shirts. Clubs should ensure that if a colour clash is likely to occur between clubs, arrangements for the home team to change are made when the match is confirmed.
All Merit Table and Knock-Out Competition matches shall be played between 1st September and 30th April each season and shall be played on Saturday afternoons unless mutually agreed between the participating clubs concerned or as directed by the Organiser. The last date for playing Merit Table matches each season shall be advised by the Organiser so that games are not rescheduled on dates allocated to the Knock-Out Competition. In the 2012-13 Season, all Merit Table games must be completed by 6th April 2013
If any game is not to be played at the home ground of a club in membership of the Buckinghamshire RFU, Hertfordshire RFU or the Middlesex County Rugby Union, then the Organiser’s permission must be obtained, which shall not be withheld unless it is believed that the choice of venue unreasonably disadvantages the away side.
All other match arrangements shall be similar to those normally made for club fixtures.
Only bona-fide playing members of participating clubs may play in competition matches and will be the players normally selected to represent that team. Club sides should be selected on an ability basis, such that each side is expected to be at a playing level above the team below.
Sides that only include ‘Vet’ players are not permitted in the competition, as this restricts the development of younger players moving through the sides and can create playing level anomalies.
There will be a maximum number of three replacements allowed per team in Tables 1 to 6 inclusively.
In Table 7 only, a maximum of five replacements will be allowed, providing that the opposing team has a minimum of 15 players. If one side has less than 15 players, their opponents must offer players such that the difference in the number of players on each side at the start of the game should not be greater than one. Any side that fails to offer players to balance the sides will be limited to a maximum of three replacements.
An experimental law regarding “Rolling Substitutes” is in operation for one season in RFU League matches below Level 5; however it will not be implemented in the Hertfordshire Middlesex Merit Tables this season.
Where a team has less then 15 players, it is in the spirit of the competition for the opposition to assist in providing players so that the game can take place. This is especially necessary in the lower merit tables. Should a team have less than nine players, then the match will be awarded to their opponents.
When a side provides additional players to assist the opposition fill their team, these are not considered to be replacements. In addition, with the agreement of the opposition, up to three players can also be provided as replacements for the opposition.
Teams must not be strengthened by players from senior sides, where games have been cancelled or are not playing for some similar reason.
When a club has more than one team participating in the competition, should a cancellation occur due to lack of players, the cancellation should commence with the lowest side. Should this process not occur, then the Organiser may penalise the club concerned by deducting two points from each side that played, where it is considered teams gained an unfair advantage.
There is no requirement for front row replacements. However in order to comply with the Laws of the Game, if teams do elect to have up to three replacements they must have at least four players in their team capable of playing in the front row. In Merit Table 7 only, if five replacements are used, there must be five players capable of playing in the front row. In the event of uncontested scrums for all or part of the game the result will stand as though contested scrums had taken place throughout.
Teams are expected to have a front row available for games and only on exceptional occasions should matches commence with ‘uncontested scrums’. Any side that is unable to commence more than two games without a front row will be penalised by the loss of two points on each further occasion. Clubs must alert their opponents, prior to the game, as soon as they aware that they will be unable to field a full front row, so that the opportunity to offer a replacement player is given.
Both the home and away sides are required to advise the Organiser whenever a side commences a match with ‘uncontested scrums’ due to a shortage of front row players. Additionally, the clubs involved must also advise if a game moved to ‘uncontested scrums’ during the course of a game and the approximate time of this change.
If a side shows a pattern of moving to ‘uncontested scrums’, the organiser will review the occurrences with the club and deduct points if it was considered to be unfair play.
7. Promotion and Relegation
Where the merit table has more than one division, the bottom two sides of the higher division may be relegated to the lower division at the conclusion of the season and the top two sides of the lower division promoted, except where two divisions feed one table, then one side may be promoted or relegated from/to each division. The above is also subject to new sides joining or sides leaving the competition, in which case the Organiser may need to restructure the tables to achieve an equal playing level in each table.
Promotion is not mandatory and a club may formally request that their team remains in the same table. In this case the Organiser will determine whether or not to promote a team, based upon the arguments given and the relativity of the playing strengths of the other teams. Clubs cannot be promoted or relegated where this would place two sides from the same club in one merit table.
8. Determination of Merit Table Points and Winners
Five points shall be awarded for a win, four points for a draw and three points for a loss. Points awarded shall determine the position of sides within the merit tables. However, if points awarded are equal then the side having the greater “points difference” shall take the higher position.
If the sides still cannot be separated then the side having scored the most points in the competition shall take the higher position.
If this method still fails to determine the winner of a merit table at the end of the season, then the side scoring the most points in the matches between the tied clubs shall be declared the winner.
In the event of any club failing to fulfil a game, other than for a postponement due to the pitch being unusable, they shall forfeit the game. The non-offending side shall be deemed to have won the game 25-0 and shall be awarded 5 points. The offending side will receive no points.
Teams cancelling matches should make their decision and advise their opposition by midday on Friday at the latest. Early advice should be the ‘norm’. Where late cancellation occurs, without good reason, the Organiser can penalise the team concerned by deducting points.
If a side fails to honour five or more fixtures then the Organiser may exclude that side from the competition. In the case of a side being excluded or withdrawing from a merit table all their results will be expunged, unless a new side is willing to join the table and take over the record of the excluded or withdrawing side.
If a game is not played due to adverse weather conditions, or the weather causes the game to be abandoned with less than fifty minutes having been played, the game shall be deemed to have been drawn 0:0. Providing the Organiser is advised within three days of the cancellation that both clubs wish to replay and it can be arranged to be played before the end date for Merit Table matches, as advised by the organiser, then approval will normally be given. If no re-arrangement is possible a 0-0 draw will be recorded.
If the referee abandons a game, for whatever reason, before fifty minutes of play has expired, then the game shall be void and deemed to have been drawn 0-0. Otherwise the result shall stand as though the game had been completed normally.
The match shall be postponed if either Captain regards the pitch as unplayable. The referee’s opinion may be sought, but it is the decision of the Captains whether to play the game or not.
In the event of the scores being equal at the end of normal time the game shall be deemed a draw.
9. Notification of Results
Both teams shall be responsible for (a) confirming the score with the referee and (b) informing the Organiser, by e-mail or telephone, of the result and score of their match or cancellation of the game, no later than midday on the Monday following the match. Early advice is preferred, which allows publication of Merit Tables on Sunday of each week.
On the second and each subsequent occasion that a club fails to notify the Organiser of the match result or the postponement of the match before the deadline, the Organiser may deduct one point from their points awarded total.
10. Knock-out Competition
A Knock-out Competition will take place for clubs within each Merit Table on dates determined by the Organiser and advised at the start of the season. The finals are generally expected to take place during late April, except where a clash with Easter Saturday occurs. There will also be a Plate Competition for those clubs eliminated in the preliminary or first round of the tournament, such that every team is guaranteed at least two matches.
Only players who have played in the Merit Table Competition are eligible to play in the Knock-out Competition, unless special dispensation is requested from the Organiser and permission given. Where a club has more than one team in the Competition, players may not play for more than one team.
In the Finals of both the Main and Plate Competitions, teams should have three replacements and must have four players in their team capable of playing in the front row such that teams are able to replace any position in the front row on the first occasion that replacements are required.
Each team is required to complete a form detailing the names of all their players for each match in the Competition, which is to be handed to the referee prior to the game. Forms will be e-mailed to clubs by the organizer. The result, plus details of scores recorded where extra time needed to be played, will be recorded by the referee and signed by the captains and the referee. Each captain will be responsible for posting or emailing their form to the Organiser, to arrive by the following Wednesday.
The complete draw for each of the competitions will take place at an appropriate meeting of the Hertfordshire Competitions Committee.
The home team will be the first drawn, but should their ground not be available on the prescribed day of the match, and it is not possible to reschedule the game on a Saturday before the next round, then the game will be played at the opponents ground.
After the first or preliminary rounds of the Competition, prior to the finals, the organiser will review the venues where matches are due to be played such that if a team that has already played at home is again drawn at home to meet a side that has only played away, then the venue will be reversed. Where both sides played away or both have played at home in the previous round, there will be no change in venue. (The reason for this variation is to ensure all Clubs have the opportunity to maximise revenue from the Competition)
Where possible, the finals will be played on a neutral ground advised by the Organiser.
In the preliminary, first and semi-final rounds of the competition, if the scores are equal at the end of normal time the teams will change ends and a further twenty minutes shall be played with the teams changing ends after ten minutes. In the event of the scores still being tied then the club having scored the most goals (converted tries) shall be deemed to be the winner. If this does not separate the sides then the club having scored the most tries shall be deemed to be the winner. In the event that this does not separate the sides then the away side will go through.
In the finals of the Competition, if the scores are equal at the end of normal time the teams will change ends and a further twenty minutes shall be played with the teams changing ends after ten minutes. If the scores are still level at the end of extra time the teams will change ends and ‘sudden death’ will be played. Play will continue with the sides changing ends every ten minutes. The team scoring first during ‘sudden death’ will be deemed the winner.
11. Appeals Procedure
Any appeal under these rules and regulations must be made, in the first instance, in writing by either letter or email to the Organiser. If the appeal concerns a particular match then the appeal must be made not more than seven days after the match has been played.
Once the Organiser has reached his decision a further appeal can be made to the Appeal Committee whose decision shall be final and binding.
If the appeal directly concerns the Organiser then the appeal must be made directly to the Competitions Sub Committee of the Hertfordshire Rugby Football Union. (‘Appeal Committee‘)
An appeal can be made to the Appeal Committee only if it is based on new evidence or the decision of the Organiser is contrary to the rules and regulations of the Hertfordshire Rugby Football Union or the Rugby Football Union or the ‘Laws of the Game’.
All appeals will be based on written submissions. There will be no personal hearings.