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Referees At Your Community Rugby Club

A community referee packs down the scrum in a local league fixture

Photo: Getty Images

Referees are a vital part of rugby union and having qualified officials affiliated to your club will aid the development of players at all levels.  Having trained referees at all club matches will help guard against player injuries and increase the consistency of officiating throughout the country.

The information here is designed to help you direct referees towards appropriate formal and informal training. It also provides information on how to support the officials associated to your club with a Club Referee Coordinator. 

Regional referee societies, the bodies which allocate referees to club matches, are generally able to appoint to 1st, 2nd and 3rd XV matches every Saturday.  However, they are rarely able to cover the huge amount of junior fixtures which take place on a Sunday morning, or the 4th XV and veterans matches on a Saturday.  To ensure that all of your club’s matches have a referee, it is essential that you make provision for those matches the referee society cannot appoint to. 

Refereeing Courses

You should ensure that all your club referees are appropriately qualified.  Whether they are parents of the junior players, junior team coaches or willing club members, they should undertake the RFU’s Entry Level Referee Award (ELRA), the RFU’s introduction to refereeing. 

After this initial qualification, there is a staged progression through the levels of refereeing, as mapped out by the Refereeing Pathway document (PDF 259kB).

Referee Nicky Inwood of New Zealand gives a decision during the Women's Rugby Union International match between Wales and England

Photo: Getty Images

Continuous Professional Development

Your club referees should keep their skills up to date and can do so through attending short CPD courses delivered by the RFU Referee Educators. Each course lasts 2 hours, costs £5 per person, and covers the key aspects of refereeing. These include communication and management, understanding the game and refereeing the scrum and breakdown. At least 50% of all the CPD courses involve practical activity. Click on the following link for further details on the training opportunities and support available for your club’s referees (PDF 494kB).

Club Referee Coordinators (CRefCs)

It is important that your club referees have access to up-to-date refereeing information from the RFU and your local referee society.  To facilitate this, your club should look to appoint a Club Referee Coordinator (CRefC).  Their role is to provide general to support club referees, and to receive relevant information from the RFU and then communicate it to your club referees.  For information on the CRefC role, please contact your local RefDM.

Further Referee Development

Some of your club referees may wish to join their local referee society and attempt to progress further as a referee.  By joining a society, referees will have access to structured, regular training and will be appointed to a variety of matches within the constituent body.  The opportunity to referee further afield and take on higher tier matches will be given to those referees with the potential to progress.  For information on how to join your regional referee society, please contact your local RefDM.

Laws of the Game

For reference purposes, the laws page of this website is a useful tool for researching the current laws of the game.


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