FAQ: how long is the school rugby sin bin time?

Schoolboy rugby players don’t often get sent to the bin but when they do this sort of thing happens a lot: someone in the crowd turns to you or the guy sitting near you and asks how long the player has to stay in the bin. Well if you didn’t know the answer to that question, here we go. On their website, the the SA Referees have specified maximum playing times for various age-group levels and provided the sin bin times to coincide with these playing times. 


SA Referees have laid down the playing time for school matches, from high schools to primary schools.

These times are laid down, to be altered only with SARU permission for national tournaments.

High School Times

These accord with the Under-19 Variations in the Law book.

The time for high school matches, is playing time. Stoppages for injuries and substitution are not playing time and so an allowance is made for them

1. 1st XVs (Under-19)

Playing time: 70 minutes
Sin bin: 10 minutes playing time.

2. Other (Under-19) Teams

These are for matches above Under-16

Playing time: up to 35 minutes a half
Sin bin: 5 minutes playing time

3. Under-16

Playing time: 30 minutes per half
Sin bin: 5 minutes playing time

4. Under-15 and Under-14

Playing time: 25 minutes per half
Sin bin: 5 minutes playing time

Primary Schools

5. Under-13

Running time: 25 minutes per half.
Injury time: maximum of 5 minutes per match
Half-time: maximum of five minutes

6. Under-12, Under-11, Under-10, Under-9

Running time: 20 minutes per half
Injury time: maximum of 5 minutes per match
Half-time: maximum of five minutes


  1. @Gungets Tuft: Having done a number of triple-headers at Kings Park over the years I can say that time spent waiting between the end of the u19 game and the start of the u21s and then again between the u21s and seniors can be agonising.

    I experienced something similar at the Bizsport Glenwood last year but that may have been partly due to a lunch break. Fortunately there were games on the other fields.

  2. @beet: If implemented it is likely to cause fewer games to be played on the main field as they will be forced to leave a a buffer. Likely that either the 6ths or the U16A matches are not played on the main field. Would be a pity.

  3. This will be very difficult to implement. Up till the end of last season it was definitely running time for schools for obvious reasons – keep the matches on schedule, spectators on schedule, lift clubs on schedule etc and not be forced to play the 1st XV match by candle light.

    The 1st XV match was changed to playing time towards the end of the season but caused havoc with schools which have a field clock (eg: Kearsney and College) which is difficult/impossible to synch with the referee’s watch.

  4. @BuffelsCM: Very good point. In KZN where the sun sets early and 1st XV games tend to kickoff late in the day those 30min or so minutes lost over the course of the day’s lead up matches could prove to be very costly in terms of poor daylight towards the end last game.

  5. At Festivals it’s not uncommon for 1st XVs to play 30min per half running time.
    I assume this mean that sin bin time is also based on running time in cases like that and shifts to 5min as per u16 rule. To be proportional it should be closer to 8.5min for 30min per half games

  6. @umbiloburger: It will be interesting to see if it is applied by all schools. Some match day’s schedules are drawn up with the minimum time allowed between matches. If the principle is applied as stipulated, schools will need to make proper provision for injury time etc. This can easily add another 30 minutes’ playing time per field per match day. While this is not much, it will be terrible to wait another 20 to 30 minutes for your match to start.

    I’m sure all of us have witnessed games starting later than scheduled and that was while applying the “running time” principle and not playing time.

    In principle I like the idea ……….let’s wait and see if it is done

  7. Can someone please emphasize to the schools the difference between running and playing time…..especially in KZN. We now have it officially that big school 1stXV is 35 minutes PLAYING TIME and not running time.


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