No adoption of new non-combativity rule for January 2019 Charlotte NAC

The following is a repost of an article on the RC rules blog published on 01/03/2019:

As you may be aware, the FIE adopted a significant change to the rules governing “Unwillingness to Fight”, or non-combativity, at the Congress meeting on 8 December 2018. You can find the summary of the Congress’s decisions as published by the FIE.

Please be aware that USA Fencing is not adopting these changes to non-combativity for the January NAC in Charlotte. Please use the existing version of t.124, “Unwillingness to Fence”, in the current USA Fencing Rulebook.

The Referees’ Commission is aware that the new non-combativity rule will be in effect at FIE competitions starting on 1 January 2019. However, there are several reasons we’ve decided to delay the US adoption of the rule:

  • In the case of a simultaneous disqualification for non-combativity, the FIE rule awards a victory to the fencer or team with a higher FIE ranking. However, in many USA Fencing domestic competitions, a large number of competitors carry no ranking points. Before adopting the rule in the US, we need to work with athletes, coaches, and administrators to determine the best way to settle a simultaneous disqualification in the absence of ranking points.
  • The new rule is significantly more complex. With less than a month between the new rule’s adoption and implementation, the Rules Committee and Referees’ Commission believes there is not sufficient time to anticipate potential breakdowns or confusion in implementation and educate referees, coaches, and fencers in advance of a large competition such as the January NAC.
  • Some aspects of the rule require further clarification from the FIE. These include how to handle a scoring action that starts before the “one minute without a hit” standard for non-combativity but finishes afterward, and how to formally track the time elapsed between touches in the absence of a feature on the scoring apparatus.

Again, please continue to use the previous version of the non-combativity rule for USA Fencing domestic competitions until further notice.

Good luck out there,
Devin Donnelly
On behalf of the Rules Committee and Referees’ Commission


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