A match lasts no longer than 80 minutes plus time lost, extra time and any special conditions. A match is divided into two halves each of not more than forty minutes playing time.
After half-time the teams change ends. There is an interval of not more than 15 minutes. The length of the interval is decided by the match organiser, the Union or the recognised body which has jurisdiction over the game. During the interval the teams, the referee and the touch judges may leave the playing enclosure.
The referee keeps the time but may delegate the duty to either or both the touch judges and/or the official time-keeper, in which case the referee signals to them any stoppage of time or time lost. In matches without an official time-keeper, if the referee is in doubt as to the correct time the referee consults either or both the touch judges and may consult others but only if the touch judges cannot help.
Time lost may be due to the following:
If a player is seriously injured and needs to be removed from the field of play, the referee has the discretion to allow the necessary time to have the injured player removed from the field-of-play.
Any playing time lost is made up in the same half of the match.
A match may last more than eighty minutes if the Match Organiser has authorised the playing of extra time in a drawn match in a knock-out competition.
In international matches, play always lasts eighty minutes plus lost time.
In non-international matches a Union may decide the length of a match.
If the Union does not decide, the teams agree on the length of a match. If they cannot agree, the referee decides.
The referee has the power to end the match at any time, if the referee believes that play should not continue because it would be dangerous.
If time expires and the ball is not dead, or an awarded scrum or lineout has not been completed, the referee allows play to continue until the next time that the ball becomes dead. The ball becomes dead when the referee would have awarded a scrum, lineout, an option to the non-infringing team, drop out or after a conversion or successful penalty kick at goal. If a scrum has to be reset, the scrum has not been completed. If time expires and a mark, free kick or penalty kick is then awarded, the referee allows play to continue.
LAW AMENDMENT TRIAL
If a penalty is kicked into touch after time has elapsed without touching another player, the throw-in is taken and play continues until the next time the ball becomes dead.
If time expires after a try has been scored the referee allows time for the conversion kick to be taken.
A team scoring a try near the end of the match may take the conversion kick or not. Providing they decline to take the kick or take the kick within the time remaining, a restart will occur and the match will end at the next stoppage within Law. Time is taken from the strike on the ball.
If there has been a score towards the end of the match and there is time for the restart kick to take place, but time will expire immediately after the kick, and the kicker:
- does not kick the ball ten metres
- kicks the ball directly into touch
- kicks the ball dead on or over the opponents touch-in-goal or dead ball line
the referee will offer the non-offending team the options provided by Law 13.7, 13.8 and 13.9 respectively and the match continues until the ball next becomes dead.
When weather conditions are exceptionally hot and/or humid, the referee, at his discretion, will be permitted to allow one water break in each half. This water break should be no longer than one minute. Time lost should be added on at the end of each half. The water break should normally be taken after a score or when the ball is out of play near the half way line.