Our team has been discussing how the whole G28/G44/G45 interactions will be interpreted by the referees. There are several Q&A entries on the subject, but they do not provide a very clear picture of what to expect. Here are two examples:

Q. Need clairification of G28/G44: Two questions below appear to contardict each other. A robot pushed into opposing robot is a foul but strategy to exploit this rule is a technical foul. How would it be determined whether it is a foul, no foul or technical foul?
FRC4055 2012-01-19
A. Contact prohibited in Rule [G28] will always result in a Foul. The Referees will make their best determination if contact was a strategic move and call a Technical-Foul and Red Card accordingly.

Q. Re: G44 “[G28] is an exception to this rule.” [G28] Foul when a robot “touch an opponent Robot in contact with its Key, Alley or Bridge…No matter who initiates the contact see G44.” Does Blue while contact with Blue Alley get a [G45] Red Card for purposeful touch of Red?
FRC3005 2012-01-20
A. That scenario is incredibly situation dependent and cannot be answered on this forum.

It appears that they will be relying on referees to judge intent, which is not an exact science. It will be difficult to have consistency between referees, events, etc. If the rules make each scenario so “situation dependent” that it “cannot be answered in this forum”, then how will referees be able to make consistent calls? The second questioner gets at the core question (I paraphrase): “Does Blue, while in contact with blue alley or Key, get a [G45] technical foul for intentionally touching Red?" I expect this situation to happen often. How will referees determine if intentional contact was part of a strategy? Will they interpret all intentional contact as being part of a strategy to exploit [G44]? There are a lot of reasons for intentional contact that aren’t part of an explicit strategy to exploit [G44]. Many will be ambiguous.

Here’s are two examples that we expect to see: 1) Red is in the key and lining up for a shot. Blue pulls up close to block the shot. Red intentionally pushed blue back while remaining in contact with the key. What if its not obvious that Blue is close enough to have blocked Red’s shot but Red still bumps them? When does it become a technical foul? 2) Red defense bot spends most (but not all) of its time on the red-lane side of the field and follows Blue whenever they enter the Red lane to collect a ball. Clearly intentional, but when will the referees deem it a strategy to exploit [G44]? In both examples, identical robot actions could be viewed either way – a recipe for disagreement. When does a legitimate tactical action become a strategy to exploit [G44]? Who gets the benefit of the doubt?

We had originally interpreted the G28/G44/G45 rules to mean that we should just stay well clear of our opponents’ lane and key. These Q&A responses almost provide an incentive to intentionally go there in hopes of drawing a 3 point foul against ourselves and a 9 point technical foul against our opponent (but perhaps against ourselves, too, if the referee thought it was part of a strategy…).

Please help me craft a Q&A submittal that might bring some clarity on the issue.

Firstly, there is a Q&A that atleast partially addresses this:

Q. Is G45 violated if a robot herds balls into their alley and waits nearby so if/when an opposing robot attempts to retrieve said balls they can contact them resulting in a foul as per G44?

A. Yes. It could also be considered trapping depending on how the strategy is executed.
That’s not a full and complete guideline, but it does give insight into the intent of the rule.

Relevant rules:


Robots may not touch an opponent Robot in contact with its Key, Alley, or Bridge.
Violation: Foul; Technical-Foul for purposeful, consequential contact.


Generally, a rule violation by an Alliance that was directly caused by actions of the opposing Alliance will not be penalized. Rule [G28] is an exception to this rule.


Strategies exploiting Rule [G44] are not in the spirit of the FRC and are not allowed.
Violation: Technical-Foul and Red Card

In the situation that Red 1 is sitting in red’s key and Blue 2 moves up to defend, without actually entering the key or contacting Red 1, and Red 1 moves forward to bump Blue 2 while remaining in the red key, I would assess a technical foul to Red 1 for purposeful contact and a foul to Blue 2.

That is my interpretation due to the fact that [G28] is always enforced regardless of who initiated contact and is exempt from [G44] protection. I wouldn’t issue a red card, however, because it would be impossible to exploit [G44] in this situation as [G44] does not apply.

We’ll have to see how the refs call it in week 1 events.

We (my team) have been going back and forth as well with these exact questions. If I may give you my personnal philosophy on this. The GDC and FIRST in general are attempting to design all games so they maximize entertainment value. I chuckle at this a bit since Dean spends a great deal of time and effort bashing or maybe I should say critiquing the entertainment industry.

With this is mind the game rules are designed in such a way to impede the ability of an opponent to stop a capable robot. This is why I have preached and will continue to preach that the best plan is as you said in your comments to simply stay away from these scenerios. Additionally, I am not sure if there is a way to properly construct a question to answer your questions. The Q&A forum while a bit ambiguous I would have to say is right in the way they answered some of the questions. Each scenerio has its own variables and it is tough if not impossible to predict or to make a ruling.

As an additional note I always find a lot of teams take a long time trying to exercise (strategize) different scenerios. However, my opinion as a former driver when I was in High School and now a Coach. The game is played much quicker and much finer in competition and much of that strategizing goes out the window. I becomes a match by match, instant by instant, sort of thing.

Sorry for the long windness. I do enjoy these hypotheticals though

Instead of preemptively pushing into blue in this situation, why not shoot the ball, have it be blocked, then go chasing after it, hitting blue while doing so? Then the intent is clear - you’re going after the ball. Blue gets a foul, red does not. Its like you made the shot!

I don’t think I agree with Joe on this one:

Redbot is in it’s key and lining up a shot. Bluebot approaches and comes close to Redbot to block. Redbot moves forward and touches Bluebot and Redbot gets a technical foul?

It seems to me that there is no way that a ref can judge the intent of such an action. Was Redbot simply trying to get in range?

If Bluebot backs away immediately, then they should only suffer the single 3-point foul, regardless of how many times Redbot makes contact, but if they stay, then Redbot should be able to touch them again for another 3 points.

If this is not the case, what is to keep a defender from camping out on their opponent’s key? Sure, they take a single 3-point foul, but they could possibly shut down an effective scorer.

I believe that the “strategies” that the DGC is referring to are things like camping out on the key, waiting for opposing robots to come over the Cooperttion bridge and suddenly backing up to make contact as they come off the bridge.

It seems to me that the intent of the rules are:

“Don’t mess with robots that are shooting from the key, robots that are using their alliance bridge or robots retrieving balls from their alley.”


“Don’t lawyer the rules to turn the tables on this intent by pretending to be shooting from they key, using your alliance bridge or retrieving balls from your alley with the intention of causing other teams to get fouls.”

Does that seem right?

  • Mr. Van
    Coach, Robodox

I think I can say, without violating any confidences, that head referees are still being trained on this. We were told that it would be a point of emphasis in our next training session.

So a partial answer to how referees will know how to call it is that we will be trained how to call it. We will see various scenarios and be able to ask questions about it to Aidan Browne, the national head ref. It is beyond the scope of Q&A to answer scenario-dependent questions. But that doesn’t mean the refs will be winging it.

I am going to forward a link to this thread to the private head referee forum, and make a recommendation that it be included as a standard part of the driver/coach meeting at events.

This is going to be a nasty year for the refs. The GDC has placed a subjective and hard to call rule set in place this year. One way the refs could save them selves a load of grief and make their job a little easier is to hash this out at a very detailed drivers meeting. The meeting would be mandatory for the whole driver team. At the meeting they need to use pictures, cardboard cutouts or what ever to convey how they will call that event. I’m OK with there being refereeing variation between events as long as at each event the refs are up front with their interpretation and all the teams are informed of this.

Think of it like charging in basketball. Or pass interference in football. Or maybe like the strike zone in baseball. All those have a fairly detailed descriptions but end up as a referee’s call. Despite the best efforts of the refs there will be variation from regional to regional.

Speaking from some one with no inside information.

The GDC and head referees have the authority to set the criteria and provide guidelines for making these judgement calls. It would be appreciated if they could share some of this with teams prior to the start of the competition season.

Some actions are taken for tactical/opportunistic reasons, and some are primarily done as part of some larger strategy. In this game, it will be hard for a referee or spectator to know the difference. Perhaps it comes down to deciding who gets the benefit of the doubt.

I would not like to see [G45] get the benefit of doubt over [G44]. That could have the same effect as a rule stating “A ROBOT IN CONTACT WITH ITS OWN KEY, ALLEY, OR RAMP MAY NOT CONTACT AN OPPONENT. PENALTY: TECHNICAL FOUL.” Last year, you got a penalty for entering your opponent’s lane and a red-card for contacting an opponent. This year, depending on how things are called, there is either (1) no penalty for entering your opponent’s lane/key, and only a 3point foul if contact is made with an opponent, or (2) a 6 point hit (9-point technical - 3 point foul) for intentionally making contact with an opponent while you are touching your own key/lane. I don’t think that was the intent of the rules.

Pushing another robot half way across the field and into your lane/key/ramp in order to collect a penalty unsportsmanlike and is not in the spirit of the game. Camping out in the lane or key for the sole purpose of trying to touch your opponent and collect the foul is quite lame and I woud be quite happy to see that penalized. Making sure your opponent keeps its distance from you while you are in your “protected area”, even if that means intentionally touching them while in your own key is fair game in my opinion. If a defense bot chooses to follow the robot that is chasing after a ball in its own lane vs. the one that is chasing after a ball in the far corner is also fair game, in my opinion. [G28] was specifically excluded from G44} for a reason, and I hope that referees give the benefit of doubt to the “contactor” and not the “contactee”.

My opinion, however great it may be (haha), is not what matters here. I just hope that guidelines are made clear to teams in advance of the competitions, and applied as uniformly as possible.

I completely agree with everything in this quote. I hope it gets called that way.

The following question has been posted to Q&A:

“Red robot is in its key lining up to shoot. Blue robot approaches close to red robot to block the shot. Red robot intentionally pushes blue robot back to clear the way for its shot, contacting blue robot while red robot is still in contact with its key. Is this a violation of [G45]?”

We’ll see if that warrants a response.

Wayne, if your Q&A doesn’t get answered, I’ll tell you on Thursday. See you at Gull Lake.

What if you push a robot in to your alley, but your objective isn’t as much going for the penalty as much as it is to pin them down for a couple of seconds far away from their Alliance bridge?

I’m just curious.

The referees are not going to be able to figure out what your intent is. And even if your intent is something else, the result is the same: you’re arguably abusing G44 to cause your opponent to incur penalties. I would not recommend it.

Here is the response from FIRST Q&A:

Game - The Game » Penalties » G45
Q. Red robot is in its key lining up to shoot. Blue robot approaches close to red robot to block the shot. Red robot intentionally pushes blue robot back to clear the way for its shot, contacting blue robot while red robot is still in contact with its key. Is this a violation of [G45]?

A. We cannot make a definitive statement on a hypothetical situation, and the final decision on violations of Game Rules is left to the Head Referee at each event. However, generally, if a Robot is attempting to play the game, not simply create Fouls for the opposing Alliance, Rule [G45] will not be violated.

I am satisfied with this answer. Ultimately, it’s the referees’ call and they will face some tough ones this year. However, it is clear that the GDC wants us to “play the game”. It sounds like we will be presumed innocent on [G45] until proven guilty, rather than the other way around. Very good.

Can anyone that’s been through ref. training let us know what plan, if any, exists to announce fouls/penalties after a match? With real-time foul assessment, if there any chance for review? Any shot at learning who did what wrong?

Especially since it involved shoving said robot over a bridge or bump =P
but I agree with your expectations for the rules/callings.

In my opinion, I think (and I think that the rules think) that “red” robots should be able to intentionally “draw” penalties if “blue” robots insist on being in / too near the key or lane. However, it becomes a strategy when these “red” robots begin to play for the penalties instead of the game (ex. too many repeated attempts to draw penalties or chasing “blue” robots around/blatantly ignoring the game to try to draw penalties)

It’d could easily be made clearer, definitive, and a better rule if red bots could only draw penalties while both blue AND red bots are in contact with the key/lane.

I have been through referee training and the training does make these rules quite clear. I will be refereeing at the MAR event at Rutgers.

While in past years there has been a small degree of variation between events, this year I don’t believe this will be the case because there will not be the referee discussion at the end of the match that there has been in past years. Calls will be immediately calculated via tablets. Technical fouls will be radio-ed in to the head referee. There will also be hand signals for many fouls. I really believe that FIRST will succeed in their attempt to reduce ambiguity of fouls that are called.

The bottom line is that referees were told in training that any rule that begins with “strategies that”, especially G45, will be called if a team does this action more than once. It is not all up to what the referee sees as intent. This includes previous discussions on balls under bridges, balls outside the field, etc.

Regarding Wayne’s scenario, I’m believe with confidence that a G28 would be called. For a majority of situations, intent is based on repetition. Of course, there will be extenuating circumstances.

Remember this is just one conjecture on the topic. I hope this helps.

I guess my question is then what constitutes repetition? Is it x number of times in y number of seconds? Is it x times per match? Is it once or twice in several consecutive matches a team plays?