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Question Number: 26856

Law 3 - Number of Players 9/28/2012

RE: College

Nick Broderick of Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada asks...

The second half is about to begin, but with one team only fielding ten of their players to start the half. The eleventh is not ready to start the half, and the team in question does not want to use a substitution to replace this player. The second half starts and a few minutes later the eleventh player is ready to enter the field.

Is the player required to wait for a stoppage to enter the field of play, or does he only need the referee's permission?

I only know of two cases in Law where a player/substitute must wait for a stoppage to enter the field. Law 4 requires a player who is ordered off to fix an equipment issue to wait for a stoppage. And of course, a substitution can only occur at a stoppage as well. The case I gave is covered by neither of these points of Law. I would argue that the player waiting on the touch line can therefore enter at any moment -- with the referee's permission, of course -- but I've been told different.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Nick
As it is the start of the 2nd half and all equipment has been checked plus it is not a 'blood' injury the player does not have to wait for a stoppage in play for the player to be beckoned on to the field of play.
The referee though should be mindful of the return of the player in that the opponents are aware of the player's return rather than say allowing the player to return in a promising position when the opponents have not factored that in to its positioning.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Interesting scenario, and I think we'd need to look at any other time a player has left the field with permission to determine this. In those situations, the player can re-enter the field at any time with the referee's permission. However, in those situations, the opponents are probably a little more aware of the missing player than in this situation, as such I'd really err on the side of caution to ensure he doesn't unfairly advantage his team by takin advantage of his absence to avoid being marked. I wouldn't beckon him on when the ball is anywhere near him, and I'd be hesitant to if the team is attacking. If you believe the fairest method happens to be to wait for the next stoppage then you can take that option - while you can let him on while the ball is in play, you're not obligated to do so immediately.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

A player only needs the referee's permission to enter the field during live play. (If the player had left the field to correct equipment/address blood, this must be inspected.)

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