It could happen to you (but we hope not)

At the Utah Regional this past weekend Team 1410 was lucky enough to captain the 8th seed alliance with Teams 1339 and 3669. During the 1st quarter final we faced the 1st seed alliance. A number of very atypical events occurred, which were reviewed in depth by the local and national FRC staff that ultimately changed the outcome of the 1st quarter final. While our team is disappointed in the rulings made, we are posting our experience to inform other teams and prompt a healthy debate about the rules. We hope that there will be additional rules clarification and referee training provided. We are competing again in Colorado in week 6 and have faith that any issues will be worked out by then. The views contained here are only from Team 1410, but we want to hear from other teams at the Utah Regional, specifically about your experiences with the pedestal during matches.

1st Match

In the first match of the quarter final our alliance upset the 1st seed and won 76-57 thanks to great autonomous by 1339 and 3669. A ball actually hit our breaker and turned us off mid match. There were no penalties or issues. Thanks to our alliance for carrying us through that one (you guys rock!).

2nd Match

The second match was where all the fun began. Please watch it ( so that the discussion below makes more sense. Our camera team was asked to follow our robot so we apologize that you can’t always see the whole field, but this is the only video we have.

In the match, the blue ball bounced onto and became trapped on a red robot at 1:40 until 2:23 in the video. At the end of the match the score 175 to 72 was displayed. A few minutes later the score was corrected to 125 to 72 and declared final over the PA. That is when things got interesting. Both alliances moved to the question box and a long discussion ensued.

These two rules are most applicable to the discussion:

*From 3.1.2 … If an ALLIANCE’S BALL becomes stuck in an opposing ALLIANCE’S ROBOT, the Head Referee will signal an extended infraction of G12 (the assumption is that the ALLIANCE has already been penalized for the initial G12 infraction). At this point, the Head Referee will suspend the current CYCLE and re-illuminate the PEDESTAL, beginning another CYCLE for that ALLIANCE. If the stuck BALL is freed, that ball will be considered FIELD debris. …

*T16 If, in the judgment of the Head Referee, an “ARENA fault” occurs that affects the outcome of the MATCH, the MATCH will be replayed. *

After review, both alliances agreed that that correct score of the match was 125 to 72 (initially 3 technical fouls had been assigned to red, but 2 technical fouls is correct).

The red alliance said there was a time period after a ball was scored where the pedestal was not lit for 8 seconds. They claimed they could have made up the difference in the final score given those 8 seconds.

The blue alliance disagreed that enough points could have been made to affect the outcome of the match with 8 additional seconds. The blue alliance also pointed out that the cycle had not been correctly restarted when the ball was trapped on the red robot. The head referee incorrectly stated 3.1.2 and told the blue alliance that he was clearly looking for the dead ball card to be presented before starting a new cycle. Blue did not show the correct full text of 3.1.2 to the head referee until after the situation was resolved (our mistake for not having a printed rule book handy and, of course, the app was not working for whatever reason).

The head referee listened to both sides to see if either side would withdraw their objections. Blue wanted to leave the match as played, red wanted a replay. Ultimately, the head ref decided he was not comfortable making the decision and called FRC HQ. The decision was made to replay the match because of the eight-second delay in lighting the red pedestal.

Here are the reasons we feel the replay should not have happened:

  1. For those who have not attended an event: It is not unusual for a pedestal to be unlit for 5 to 10 seconds in a match after a ball is scored. We talked to numerous other coaches and drive teams at Utah and they all experienced similar delays throughout qualification matches. While waiting in the question box later during eliminations we were directly behind a ref when we heard a team yelling to start a new cycle. We yelled too and saw the ref reach down and hit his panel and the pedestal re-lit. When this was presented to the field staff they said there would not be a replay for the delay we had just witnessed. It was frustrating to see that granting a replay for a short pedestal delay during eliminations was not being enforced consistently. It was also frustrating that small pedestal delays occurred during the entire event and there were not replays for all of the pedestal errors.

  2. It was extremely disappointing to see that the head ref did not know all the rules, specifically the portion of 3.1.2 for when a ball is stuck on an opposing alliance. As is mentioned above, he said that he was specifically looking for a dead ball card to be presented by the blue alliance to restart the cycle. The blue ball was possessed by 2594 from 1:40 – 2:23. At 1:44 when 2594 slammed into the wall to try to dislodge the ball it was clearly stuck and not coming out. This means a new cycle should have started for blue around that time. At least 30 seconds of a cycle were lost for blue and if the argument could be made (and was later accepted) that 60 points can be scored in 8 additional seconds – how many points can be scored in 30 additional seconds? Later in the day one of the refs said to us, “How were we supposed to know it was stuck?” From 1:44 to 1:59 the ball is very clearly stuck. We don’t know how it could have been more clear. It was very hard to hear that it was even a question that the ball was stuck from a referee.

If blue lost 30+ seconds and red lost 8 seconds we believe blue still had the disadvantage and the replay should not have even been considered. We made the argument that the cycle should have been restarted for blue earlier and that blue had lost more time than red, but since the head ref did not know the rules correctly it was ignored.

  1. It was particularly frustrating to listen to mentors (not students, mentors) in the question area claim that they could have made a 60-point cycle with 8 additional seconds because:

a. A 60-point cycle would require a catch. The only video we have is of our elimination matches, but one thing you will notice is there is never an attempt to do a catch at all and no indication it could have been done. We only heard of one catch during the entire Utah Regional, though there may have been a few.

b. Team 2594 did not have a mechanism on their robot during the match. They removed their shooter for whatever reason (which is why the ball got stuck). We do not believe that they could have ever made the assist required for a 60-point cycle. Note that referees were not calling two bumps of the ball as a possession throughout the regional. In the match, 2594 did not ever make an attempt to assist because they were playing defense the whole time.

c. At the end of the match the only possessions of the red the ball was 1619 in all three zones. Based on all the matches we have seen from weeks 1 through 3, the additional steps to get a 60-point cycle (two additional possessions in unique zones, a truss shot, catch and 10 point goal) cannot happen in 8 additional seconds.

If a 60-point cycle could not have been made, and we believe we have demonstrated it was not possible, then per T21 the replay should not have happened because the additional score would not have affected the outcome.

  1. It was more frustrating to see the head ref and FTA agree that a 60-point cycle could have been finished with 8 additional seconds after watching well over 100 matches. It clearly takes longer than 8 seconds. They knew better.

  2. It was most frustrating to hear that when FRC HQ was called that they believed a 60-point cycle could have been made and therefore a replay would be granted. Note that we have no idea what was said on the phone and it is quite likely that the folks on the phone had incomplete information. Since the head ref did not know 3.1.2 correctly we are sure that the 30+ seconds of delay restarting the blue cycle after the blue ball was stuck was not communicated to FRC HQ. Per 5.5.3 the head ref should have made the ultimate call but we were told that it was made by FRC HQ.

*5.5.3 The Head Referee has the ultimate authority in the ARENA during the event, but may receive input from additional sources, e.g. Game Designers, FIRST personnel, and technical staff. The Head Referee rulings are final. The Head Referee will not review recorded replays under any circumstances.

After the 2nd Match

The fun continued. The discussion after the second match took a long time and students from all six teams were there with mentors to support and guide them. The students were very excited and emotions were high so we really appreciated the staff allowing mentors to assist in keeping the situation calm. When the final ruling was communicated to the teams we were also told that since it was an elimination match that a back-to-back match was required by the head ref and FTA. We believe this requirement was derived from 5.4.3, which dictates a strict play order. A match that was sitting on the field ready to play was removed and we were told to get back out on the field immediately. There is no discussion of replays in 5.4.3, but we think the head ref and FTA could have used better judgment and shifted the replay of QF1-2 to the spot usually occupied by QF1-3 and used the section allowed for ties for the eventual 4th match.

5.4.3 In order to allow time between MATCHES for all ALLIANCES, the order of play is as follows:
QF1-1, QF2-1, QF3-1, QF4-1, QF1-2, QF2-2, QF3-2, QF4-2, QF1-3
, QF2-3*, QF3-3*, QF4-3*
Any additional Quarter-Final MATCHES due to ties*

Per 5.5.6 a field timeout should have been called because there were back to back matches. We are not sure if a field timeout was called, but we do not believe there was one called.

5.5.6 During the Elimination MATCHES, if circumstances require an ALLIANCE to play in back-to-back MATCHES, the Head Referee will issue a FIELD TIMEOUT to allow Teams to prepare for the next MATCH.

More bad luck struck alliance 8 – 1339 turned on their robot to head back out to the field and discovered a dead Talon. A spare was quickly found and the replacement process started. The alliance captain was sent to call a timeout if needed. We have no idea how much time had transpired since the official replay was announced. The FTA came back a few minutes later and refused to allow us to take a timeout. He did not reference a rule and we believe we were within the T17 requirement to submit a timeout.

T17 If an ALLIANCE wishes to call a TIMEOUT, they must submit their TIMEOUT coupon to the Head Referee within two (2) minutes of the ARENA reset signal preceding their MATCH

The logic for refusing the timeout was that the alliance had already had plenty of time to do repairs during the debate over the previous match and that the competition was running way behind on the schedule. No rule was ever referenced by the FTA regarding a rejection of our timeout request. It was clear that his intention was to keep match play moving along. We are still baffled why the match that was already setup did not continue.

The FTA did keep our timeout coupon (this will come up later). Luckily 1339 was ready and we headed back on the field.

2nd Match Replay

Finally match 2 was replayed. During the match, 1339’s frame was grappled and destroyed in at least two spots. We are trying to get a photo from them, but there was a significant amount of metal bent and broken off in the very center of their frame. The only way to reach the damaged portions of the robot was to reach inside of 1339’s frame perimeter. G28 is clear about this type of damage.

G28 … A ROBOT with an element outside its FRAME PERIMETER may be penalized under this rule if it appears they are using that element to purposefully contact another ROBOT inside its FRAME PERIMETER. Regardless of intent, a ROBOT with an element outside its FRAME PERIMETER that causes damage to another ROBOT inside of its FRAME PERIMETER will be penalized, unless the actions of the damaged ROBOT are the catalyst for the damage.

The video is too grainy to see, but we cannot imagine the defense 1339 played was the “catalyst for the damage.”

When the refs were presented with the damage they said they did not see it and therefore could not call a foul. They acknowledged the damage occurred, but would not call a penalty. The match final score was 123 to 76. Had the technical foul been called it would have changed the result of the match.

1339 was left inoperable and we used our substitution to call in 2484.

Before 3rd Match

Even more bad luck for alliance 8. 1410 had lost communications multiple times during the match 2 replay. We could not get our cRio to connect to the field at the start of match 3. Since our timeout had not been accepted earlier we wanted to use it to try to get connected. The FTA still had our coupon and refused to return it saying that we had already received the benefit of the timeout due to the delays resulting from the long discussions over the previous matches. Only after we repeatedly demanded they call FRC HQ back again and FRC HQ corrected the FTA was our timeout returned and used. The FTA did apologize after returning the timeout, but it was clear throughout the day that his primary goal was to keep the matches on time rather than delay and get everything right. This was very frustrating.

Also, we asked the opposing alliance if they would call a timeout while we were trying to get ours back and the FTA said that was not allowed. Frank made it clear in his blog post that is it totally legal. See more here: . After pointing this out explicitly, it was acknowledged that this would be allowed. In the meantime, our timeout coupon was returned so this option was not utilized. We used our timeout but were unable to connect to the field so the 1410 robot was removed from the field and the match was played with one of the original alliance members and the substitute team.

Final Thoughts

Ultimately the 1410 mentors are very proud of our students for handling a difficult situation without losing their heads. Our alliance was very helpful and supportive – thank you all so much. We are happy to say that all parties involved shook hands at the end of the day.

It was a good “teaching moment” for the students – sometimes life isn’t fair. It was disappointing to have to tell the team that in the end we argued the best we could and had to accept the outcome. We believe there were multiple times where the outcome of Quarter Final 1 was decided by the referees, in some cases incorrectly, because they did not know the rules. We hope that some lessons learned can be gleaned from this very unusual situation.

Thanks for reading!

FRC 1410

Thanks for writing.

This is tough for me to digest. This game needs some fixing. I don’t know if it will happen, so I think we should all soldier on remember that it is not about the Robot, but it is such a buzzkill to have a situation like this occurring in eliminations.

There are way too many variables for this game. This makes it difficult for everybody involved in the running of events as well as the participants. Even if it is too late to make changes this year, FIRST needs to make sure that this never happens again. That being said, I am sorry for what your team had to go through. It sounds like you guys did everything right but weren’t helped by those who are supposed to help you.

Having watched the match in question and inquiring about the reasoning behind the replay, I respect you and your alliance for staying gracious and professional despite the obvious frustration you have endured because of this. While I 100% agree with you that the replay was undeserved, sometimes life just isn’t fair.

Good luck to you and Angelbotics at Denver. If your performance at Utah was anything to show by, you should do fantastic when we see you there in a few weeks.
This was the state of our Robot after the replayed match.

Sounds like a real hectic event. Looks like you did manage to get some of the issues resolved with the timeout at least. Not without a ton of work though.

From what I can see of the video you posted of 1339… I believe that they were also in violation of the Perimeter Rule multiple times… In fact becoming entangled numerous times with robots that they initiated contact with.

It was stated in an update that damaged caused to your robot while you or an opposing robot have an extrusion outside your perimeter, if contact is initiated by the damaged robot, will not be called for a violation.

High speed accidental collisions may occur during the MATCH and are expected. ROBOTS extend elements outside of the FRAME PERIMETER at their own risk; no penalties will be assigned for contact between two such extended elements.


Initiating deliberate or damaging contact with an opponent ROBOT on or inside the vertical extension of its FRAME PERIMETER is not allowed.


A ROBOT with an element outside its FRAME PERIMETER may be penalized under this rule if it appears they are using that element to purposefully contact another ROBOT inside its FRAME PERIMETER. Regardless of intent, a ROBOT with an element outside its FRAME PERIMETER that causes damage to another ROBOT inside of its FRAME PERIMETER will be penalized, unless the actions of the damaged ROBOT are the catalyst for the damage.

Bold emphasis - mine

I did not see any intentional intent to damage the robot. Though 1339 sure looked like they wanted to put on some hard hits and did many during that match… was a site to see them bashing full speed into their opponents.

This is an extremely defensive game and was mentioned several times to build your robots robustly. We were so concerned about this that the entire robot is incased in 1/8" or greater Lexan. Even our catapult is partial Lexan, the only thing sticking out of our Lexan shell is our intake.

I feel for your frustration. There are many issues with the running of this years game.

Luckily you do have an additional event to go to. Time to gear up for that and to continue to show how your team is working hard to be truly gracious professionals.

Good luck with the rest of your season, from the looks of it you should do well. I will keep a watch on your next event. Keep it up!


I think it is safe to say that this year’s game is a lot crazier than in the past. I honestly wish that, FIRST would have head refs that knew the rules inside out. Like have a training for a month before they are allowed to become one. I don’t know all that is required to become head ref, but we had some really really tough calls at Orlando regional.

I also believe that they should have to take a test AND pass, to be a head ref. While FIRST is all about GP, we want everyone to have a fair game. Somethings are out of our (mentors and students) hands, but should there be error on the human, there should be some sort of replay (not everything, but the major ones).

(this is my opinion only)

This years game is extremely rough, and back to back replays, especially in elimination rounds, can really hurt robots. Teams are willing to take more risks in eliminations because they know that if they loose, they are out, and drivers would rather have a damaged robot than an eliminated one.

My opinion is that the match should be stopped when something (like a pedestal issue) happens, so that this sort of debate about what could have happened never has to happen. It’s impossible to know exactly what would happen, and it hurts both alliances to have to replay full matches over and over again.

I suggest that you do some research before saying that the head refs “should” have to take a test and pass.

As I understand it, Head Refs have to get training from HQ (not quite sure if that’s in NH or not, but I think it is), and they definitely have to take a test and pass it. Us normal zebra-type refs have to take a similar test and pass it, after doing some online training. There are also conference calls on a regular basis among the various head refs to keep everybody apprised of what’s going on. That’s the stuff I know about; I’m sure some of the head refs could confirm that if they wanted to.

To the OP: I’m very impressed by the spirit you’ve showed in that post. Good luck at Colorado, and may skill drive that luck!

The disturbing part about all this was the lack of fouls called on the replay match.

Hello Again,

After watching the video, way too many times, I believe the damage occurred at the 2:30 mark in the video. Team 1339 was defending the robot that was about to receive the inbound of the ball. Their pickup was all the way over on the opposite side of where they were pushing. Another red alliance robot came up and delivered a hit, probably trying to run counter defense. You can see 1339 arm was fine prior as they used it to score the one point goal a few moments prior. Then after the hit, which lifted part of the robot off the ground, you can see the arm drooping.
The robot that did hit 1339 was not extending anything at the time, but did hit their pickup arm, inside THEIR own perimeter, which you can see afterwards 1339 arm is hanging crooked. The damage might be inside the frame but was caused by too much stress on the pickup that was outside the frame perimeter breaking a weaker junction inside the robot.

Sad to see this, but at least you can see that it wasn’t intentional nor were the opposing team inside team 1339 frame…

Lesson learned… DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING OUTSIDE YOUR PERIMETER! Especially if you are running defense… Very tempting to make a new Lexan pickup for this very reason…

Good luck!


In an attempt to keep the arm from ramming into the robot in front of them someone came up the backside and smashed into it. Looks like our brogrammers need to get a button that centers the arm in a vertical position.

I can see why you would think that. However, the hit that you are referring to only exacerbated the damage that had already been done, at almost exactly the 1:38 mark in the video. 399’s intake slams down on our tower, when our arm is on the opposite side of the robot, as they prepare for a truss shoot.

Why would you ram an opposing robot into your team mate as a defensive action?

I heard there was HD video of this match floating around that ought to be a nice substitute to netflix for once…

The issue that we have with this situation is not with the damage to our robot, or the other teams on our alliance or the opposing alliance. We knew the risks that we were taking when we designed it the way that we did, and we even, stupidly, Used the .04 in thick 1x1 versaframe as the main structure for the arm. Our issue was with the reffing and foul calls throughout the event. There were more times than I could count that no fouls were called for direct inner frame contact between robots. All teams involved were very helpful, and it was a pleasure to drive with and against all teams involved. Even in the pits, trying to get the bot back together, I looked up from pulling the structure apart to see one of 399’s team members with his arms elbow deep in the robot, helping. 1619 lent us drill bits, boxes and manpower. Our Alliance partners helped, and so did teams that had nothing to do with it, Like 2996, The Cougars Gone Wired. I came out of it incredibly impressed with the teams and students involved in first, and the incredible gracious professionalism that everyone involved displayed. My apologies if I came across the wrong way.

As the head coach of 1339, I’d like to clarify my take on the damage. I posted on one of the Utah threads what I will essentially repeat here: the damage happened not as a deliberate effort by any team or driver, and that it is questionable to ME that it was due to perimeter incursion. Rather, the rough nature of the game with the open field, combined with overwhelmed refs who either call too many or too few fouls (depending on who is asked), and a weak spot in our frame design, all led to the end of our run in eliminations. I think that a careful look at the photos of the damage should satisfy people (including my students) that something like this might have occurred at some point in the season anyway. No matter. We’ll rebuild the frame stronger before the colorado regional and be a better team for it.

Aside from this issue, I am in complete agreement with the OP. The replay match should never have happened, and a series of errors and poor decisions led to this unfortunate breakdown. It can’t be undone, but I hope this thread opens up the possibility that nothing like it will happen again. For my part, I would argue for there being THREE more refs on the field to prevent more unseen fouls and faults, as well as intensive training for all refs on the rules and field protocol. The thing I am most astonished at remains the fact that at no point was I or any of the other mentors told that we should never have been able to intervene as we did. I joined in late and was flummoxed to see mentors talking to the head ref at all.

I have the utmost respect for the drive teams of 399 and 1619. The battle between the drive bases of 1339, 399 and 1619 was amazing to watch, and I know you played your hearts out. My team drivers know how deeply I respect them too. But we have been reached out to by the fine students of our on-field opponents and they have been really kind and supportive. That makes this, in my mind, an event that forged fine young men and women of character, and not just a comedy of errors.

Research required: be a part of a team that attends a regional.

Sorry to say this but refs are people who get to decide the outcome of matches. They have a VERY high stakes job to do and failure is simply unacceptable. The job of a head ref is to clarify rules and issue replays if mistakes are made or a field bug occurs.

My point was actually that the head ref DOES have to take a test. Not “should have to”. Implying that the head ref does not have to take a test–without knowing for sure–can be very damaging. (I think I remember that back in the day, the test wasn’t required. Back in the day being a good two FIRST generations* ago, about 8 years. Memory is a bit fuzzy, though.)

If you read the rest of my post, I went into what detail I know about the testing/training requirements, not only for the head ref, but also for the non-hear refs. This is stuff that your average person at an event, team member or not, probably is not aware of, and may easily assume does not exist.

*FIRST generation: the 4 years it takes for a complete team turnover in most cases.

First things first - Hats off to the officials that regulate the matches. You do a thankless job. So thank you.

I have been a coach for many sports for quite a few years. I have also worn the zebra-stripes. I will state this - officiating/reffing is much more involved than is the role of the coach or the players.

There are always calls that I disagree with during a 80 minute soccer match. Always. But I always remind myself, and my players that the officials are part of the game, like it or not. We have won many games, and we have lost many games. What I tell my players is ‘if you feel that the official decided the game, then we weren’t playing the game to our strengths’.

A much better example is when I coach wrestling - each match is 6 minutes, and there are 14 matches in a dual (Much more like at a FRC regional). Each match has a bearing on how the dual ends. In a 6 minute match, the official has much more influence on how the match is decided. However, I still put out the same mantra - ‘do not allow the officials to be in a position to decide the outcome. Wrestle your match whistle to whistle - no matter the outcome’.

Now, I am not discounting what has occurred during the course of 3 weeks of FRC 2014 - but instead I want to outline that even though we see things through the eyes of our own teams’ result - the officials are trying to determine the best call - each match. I am relatively new to FRC, but what I have seen is that these officials are much better than what you may find at a local HS basketball game, wrestling match, football game, baseball game, etc.

FRC does a great job of creating and designing these games. And they have to reinvent the game year after year. This year seems to be a little more trying for the officials - that is understood.

What I do not want to see is an exodus of officials (like I have see in the ranks of wrestling, baseball, soccer, football, etc) in recent years because of an overabundance of complaining.

My whole point in this is just this: I have been an athlete, a coach, and a referee. The stress and strain on a person follows this in the same order - it is hard to be an athlete, much more difficult to be a coach, and extremely stressful to be the judging eyes and ears as an official.

Your points are valid - everyone’s points are valid. However, an official can call what they see - and cannot call what they don’t see. When there is a question, the officials must regroup and make the best call that they can at that time in a small amount of time.

Good Luck all!

I am the team captain of 2594 and I was also the drive coach. All of these views are completely my teams and don’t necessarily reflect the views of our alliance partners.

I first want to say that I understand how frustrating this all is for everyone involved. But I don’t feel like I have the right to discuss the replay because I was not there when the decision was made, I was in the pit doing an emergency repair on our robot. Everything that I heard is second hand, and as a result has some sort of bias. I don’t want to spread any information I personally didn’t hear, so I won’t respond to any of those points.

I will however clarify a little on your point b. I know that you had no way of knowing what was going on with our bot, so I can understand why you thought this.

Yes we did disable our shooter. We removed our surgical tubing and zip-tied it down because it wasn’t working reliably and it was making our life a bit of a pain. However, our intake was still working perfectly fine at the beginning of eliminations and could pick up the ball and knock it back out. That was why most of the matches we inbounded then spit the ball back out.

Sometime in the beginning of the match however, our arm motor burned up. If you remember the horrible smell that was our intake motor. We had no way of controlling our arm, so we had to play defense. Normally if a ball ever got stuck in our robot all we had to do was spin our intake arm to kick it out, but because it wasn’t working we had to jerk the drive to knock it back out. Once the ball was stuck in our bot we had no room to do so for almost 30 seconds, but once we were free we were able to knock it out. Now I’m not saying that it is your alliances fault that we weren’t able to get it out quickly enough, that was still completely on us. There was no way for you to know that we needed room to get it out.

I hope that your team has no hard feelings against me or my team. We were out there just trying to play our best. If you have any more concerns feel free to PM me and we can discuss it in more detail. I respect your team and I wish you guys the best of luck at your next regional. I will definitely be rooting for you guys. :slight_smile: