View Full Version : Referee Feedback by Clubs / Coaches

Simon Thomas
26-06-06, 16:06
As is the case in many Societies in the Community Game, we do not have enough Assessors (or Advisors or Referee Coaches) and rely on Club feedback cards to supplement one or two formal asessments for each referee per season (development squad referees and exchanges get g'teed Assessors).We would interested to know what other Societies do in the area of feedback cards.
We have good and poor clubs, good and poor teams within clubs, good and poor skippers / managers / coaches.
And (horror of horrors) good and bad referees - some seem to lose their feedback card when they have a )(alleged) bad match !
What processes, checks, encouragement, incentives do you give clubs / referees to return feedback cards ?
What is actually on the cards you use ?

Interesting to see even at Elite levels they don't always get the feedback either :

From www.rugby365.com

IRB Referee Selection Committee discussed the current system involving reports on match officials from international team coaches. The Panel believes the reports are of great value to the assessment process but expressed disappointment at the low rate of return of these reports. "The IRB will be proactive in encouraging coaches to provide referee reports in all forthcoming Tests,” added O’Brien.

26-06-06, 18:06
Virginia doesn't operate such a system.

For which, given the level of knowledge of some Captains and Coaches I meet, I am profoundly grateful.

27-06-06, 10:06
as an ex-player and skipper, and now coach I never ever understood the point of such cards as the answers are SO subjective by definition.

Not that I have any alternative suggestions of course!


Wert Twacky
27-06-06, 10:06
Somerset don't use anything either, and I'm not sure too many societies do. It's just one more task the captain/coach etc of the club can't be bothered with from what I've heard in a few clubs around and about.

27-06-06, 12:06
Herts Soc use cards, prob similar to Hants. I personally dont.
As a recent player i know that these are just not worth it to objectively judge a referee. The capts/ senior players, in general, just dont know enuf about the laws and they can be very emotional just after a close league/ cup match. They have a vested interest in the result and of course will be biased. Coaches are worse. Judgement of a ref should be done independently by an unbiased individual IMHO.
When i was 1st xv lucy, my capt, hooker, always gave me the honour to fill these in (when we rcvd them) on his behalf bec he just didnt know the laws etc and i tried to be as objective as possible and as constructively critical as poss. but sometimes i found it difficult.
Just watching the Internationals, i find it difficult to be objective and independent.
But ... I was told that one of the reasons why i didnt get to B3 this season was because i didnt use these cards to supplement my good assessment.
Another was age.
So, despite my opinion, the feedback is used by my society.

27-06-06, 13:06
The SRU asks referees to give these post-card sized cards to the coaches after the match. The other side is a postage-paid address which is sent back to Murrayfield. These are then organized and collated for each referee, then sent back to the RDO, who then passes them along to the referee at their next society meeting. My RDO said he knew which ones were to be taken seriously, and which ones weren't. You'll note that there is a space for teams and score (the referee will fill this out) so the RDO can look for trends in losing teams and winning teams.

Similarly is a form that the referee fills out related to the standards of the clubs (see 2nd pdf). There are normally awards (prize money) given out for this, so I suppose the rationale is a quid pro quo between clubs and referees.

They don't really help a referee as they provide no new information- if the coach has any issues they're normally discussed post-match. This is more of a formal channel for coaches to give feedback about a referee's performance.

27-06-06, 17:06
I have absolutely no problem in handing out feedback cards after a game and make it a point to do so even if I have to grit my teeth through the smile. No matter how good or bad a game I have had it is a point of principle. My first objective is to ensure that the Chief Advisor receives feedback on my performance. Next I want to make sure that the individual skippers see it as part of their responsibility to help referees develop their own game. Thirdly, because I receive a subsequent breakdown of the scores and comments, I want to be able to enquire on the next occasion as to whether my subsequent performance has taken note of their previous comments. I also take great pleasure on reacquainting myself with the skippers in asking why they had not rendered a report on the previous occasion; gets a psychological point in the bank.

When I offer the card after a game I suggest that here is the opportunity for the skipper to help me with any perceived shortcomings in my performance. I call it the 'referee encouragement form' and hope that he is gentle with any adverse comments he may have.

Of course the whole thing is a bit of a lottery and I agree fully with others' remarks concerning knowledge of law. I find it fascinating how two reports on the same game can be so widely different and reckon that the tone will depend entirely on how well you developed your relationship with the individual skipper. Of course if his captaincy has been confrontational throughout and his leadership qualities resemble those of an old style militant shop steward rather than that of a Royal Marine Corporal then the report is unlikely to be favourable. Invariably I find that I will get a better report from the losing side and wonder if this is the skipper's acknowledgement of a possible subconscious effort on my part to make a game of it.

Another fascinating aspect is that those who did not expect to have a referee of quality appointed to their game will sometimes score straight A's across the board which does not really help or frustratingly just tick the boxes without reading the instructions which clearly ask for an A to E assessment of each aspect of the game.

Fortunately the great wisdom and experience of the Chief Advisor conquers all; he has a great and extensive knowledge of the clubs, their reporting trends and can read a clash of personalities in a trice. I have often marvelled at his astute reading of the stats when I have separately attempted to analyse my own reported performance without success. He has the knack of reading you like a book and will spot trends that you were unaware of.

I suppose my point is that nobody should be afraid of a bad feedback report. If you have faith in your own ability and are realistic about your potential you can rely on the coaching/assessor team to iron out both the inconsistencies in the reports and the wrinkles in your performance. Also beware of not asking for a feedback report as this will not help the team and you will probably get found out anyway.

Perhaps clubs could be encouraged more to realise their responsibilities in not only providing referees to the system but also in helping with the development of all referees by providing constructive post match feedback.

27-06-06, 17:06
Fortunately the great wisdom and experience of the Chief Advisor conquers all; he has a great and extensive knowledge of the clubs, their reporting trends and can read a clash of personalities in a trice. I have often marvelled at his astute reading of the stat

Damn! I wish I'd said that.

27-06-06, 21:06
Damn! I wish I'd said that.

Dave, apologies - I think you did. I should have put it in quotes.

28-06-06, 13:06

yer a gent.

Mat 04
28-06-06, 23:06
I hate this idea. If coaches players and whoever else had enough knowlegde to give correct constructive criticism to referees then they would either be referees or assessors themselves.... that is my opinion anyway. Why dont we just hand one out to commentators and fans too....:mad:

Mike Whittaker
28-06-06, 23:06
I have absolutely no problem in handing out feedback cards after a game ....

In which case there is perhaps an argument for handing out the cards before the game? It was the recommended procedure some years back.

This signals to the captain the seriousness of the referees intentions and his openess to comment and criticism after the game. It also avoids the temptation to opt out or need to grit teeth....

There was however one captain who always offered me the choice before the game of filling in 'C' against each item. OR I could elect to have the card completed after the game when scores other than C would be given. My choice and my gamble. Some of the banter during the match could be quite interesting at times....

29-06-06, 00:06
In which case there is perhaps an argument for handing out the cards before the game?

One might lose respect by handing out feedback cards before a game; not only do you leave yourself open to attempted moral blackmail for the next hour and a half, you might be sending out a message that you are craving a good report and will fall over backwards to get it. If you drop it into the skipper's hand after the game in exchange for signing the result form then it's almost a matter of fact quid pro quo; you sign mine, I'll sign yours. If it is not a league game then you have to steel yourself, grit yer teeth, damn the torpedoes and hand it over. Your boldness in the face of adversity may get you points for your brass neck. If not, don't worry, hopefully Uncle Jim will put it down to a personality clash.

29-06-06, 11:06
I don't understand what difference it makes handing them out before or after the game.

If the captain presumably knows one is coming "after the game" then he has in all intents and purposes already received it!

so what's the big deal?


29-06-06, 14:06
I don't understand what difference it makes handing them out before or after the game.

If the captain presumably knows one is coming "after the game" then he has in all intents and purposes already received it!

so what's the big deal?


Psychology for one.

Secondly, you assume he will be expecting it after the game, further assuming all referees willingly hand them out. We are continually 'encouraged' yea exhorted even to hand out cards on each and every occasion. The need for this encouragement leads me to believe that some are a little reticent. At my local club a coach wished to make some comments and asked the referee for a card. He was refused and as a result the club now has a small supply of feedback cards, just in case.

Thirdly, the practicalities of handing a card to a skipper when the latter has already changed into playing kit make it a more sensible to wait until he has changed after the game. His mind is on other things at this point. Afterwards it can form the basis for any post match discussion points that the skipper/coach may wish to raise.

30-06-06, 08:06
all accepted deeps.

my point was not the physical timing of the cfard but the previous implication that there was some mental one upmanship occurring by handing it out after the game rather than before - all I was trying to say was if the skipper knows he is going to receive it after the game where does the mentail oneupmanship come in. Skipper knows he'll get a card, and so knows that if any quid-pro-quo/back-scratching/leniency may exist with the ref wrt the card's furture marking it won;t disappear merely because he doesn;t already physically have ownership of the card.


30-06-06, 09:06
I don't think of the timing in terms of mental one upmanship but I do suggest that the skipper already has you by the balls to some extent if you hand the cards out early. In my experience most skippers don't look forward to receiving a card to mark the referee's performance; it seems to be seen as yet another imposition they would prefer not to have. Often the card is given away to a third party to complete, presumably deemed to be a more experienced player or perhaps one who has a better knowledge of law.

30-06-06, 12:06
We have our referee assessment form online. We let the captain/coach know afterwards that there is an online form and they can go and fill it out.

I have actually found that when they have to make an effort to fill it out and not do so at the pitch, only the constructive criticism comes out. With our new website which will be implemented by the 22nd century, any team which goes to see the referee assignment, will have the ability to fill out referee assessment when they log in.

30-06-06, 13:06
We have our referee assessment form online. We let the captain/coach know afterwards that there is an online form and they can go and fill it out.

Now that's a novel idea Judah. We are rebuilding our website (hantsrefs.org.uk) at the moment; that's worth serious consideration. It would save money on postage too.

Simon Thomas
30-06-06, 14:06
Already under consideration Deeps, but rejected by Committee so far.
We prefer to have the personal contact and paper based system that has worked pretty well to date.

Danger of an online web based systen is that it is open to abuse, unless security is added. Which all adds to web master admin and workloads.

The new RFU Project Trafalgar systems as well as appointments management will offer online assessment, all controlled by security.
So maybe club card reports could go online there too in the future ?

30-06-06, 19:06
The one we have planned would be so that a club could only access th eonline form if they have a password, meaning only club official would be able to submit report. We have the face to face contact by handing out a business card with the web address on it and something saying evaluate your referee.

The web site I use when I referee in our sister society METNY when we fill out the match report, there is a section for yellow and red cards, and the report for each. These reports are sent by the site to the disciplnary chair of that society. Makes it very easy to dfo the paperwork.

Simon Thomas
02-07-06, 14:07
Any online referee report 'card' for club skippers / coaches to complete MUST be security controlled. Our view is we need to balance the # of return of 'club' reports, the quality of information and feedback in them, and their role (always secondary) alongside formal Assessors / Adviser / Referee Coach reports. These are Society level 'cards' currently and it is evident not all Societies (in Engalnd use them) or if they do they are not the same content.
The idea of a business card for face-to-face bit is a good one.
Although the RFU strategy policy is to be electronic not all clubs are online, and we find manually handed out referee report cards are still the most effective method - after all for League matches we still have a physical report card for team registrations and score.

The formal English RFU Assessment / Referee Coaching reports are likely to go fully online in Project Trafalgar as a database system (not just email attachments), and are the basis of Grading and promotion to Federation,Group and Panel. These are a standard national format, on www.rfu.com and most Society web sites and completed and sent electrionically.

Discipline forms (dismissal & abuse reports - standard RFU word.docs) are on www.rfu.com and most Society websites. Usually (but not always) these are completed on PC and sent as email attachment to relevant people (has to be done in 48 hours).
All English refs do red cards for all levels, but only level 4 (National League) and above for yellows. for yellows.

03-07-06, 13:07
First a confession - I have a bee in my bonnet about systems and ease of use - after 25 years in IT, implementing and supporting many different solutions it is (and has been for a long time) apparent that any system will only be used if it is easy to do so - get complex, ask people to do more than they do now for no personal (as opposed to corporate) benefit and they simply will not co-operate.

Handing out a card when the captain already has a pen in his hand, doing league cards, match fees etc is fine. Making him go to a computer at some later stage, when he doing something else... and it just won't happen.

Robert Burns
04-07-06, 12:07
London has feedback cards which I think are great for showing when you have had a good game. We have a blue card which we rate the club on, so if you have a problem with them, put it down on there.

My only critisism of Londons cards are they use the

Minor Development
Needs Development
Significant Development

system (Or something like that), the problem I find with this is people don't always want to give you top marks even if you have done well, so you will come away with the next one down instead. I think the best way to resolve this is to have a higher 'Very Good' or 'Excellent' box for them, I am sure more referees would get good then when they had been.

I think an electronic version would see returns plummet!

I also give out my cards at the end of the games and will request them back, even to the point of not giving the white team cards back until I have my card back. It does after all come back to me anyway, I do not scrutinise it there and then, just a thank you and place it in my pocket, and I guarentee it gets returned. It also makes them think about what they write as they always think I am going to read it as soon as it is handed to me. Everyone happy.

Simon Thomas
04-07-06, 14:07
Good, Minor Development, Needs Development and Significant Development - are the RFU Assessor overall gradings as used on RFU Assessment and Coaching Forms.

What use they are (or understandable) to Skippers / Coaches I find hard to think of.

We use A to E - not perfect I know but seems to work.

04-07-06, 14:07
I have followed this thread - a regular moan by new refs that teams do not fill in their cards and when they do it does not reflect the game - and feel that i must add my penny worth.

Report cards are needed - there are just not enough assesors to go out and watch every ref every week - and until there is a workable alternative we need to encourage teams to complete them.

How? i hear you all scream - well the only method i have found that works over many years is to say to the skipper and the coach:-

Fill it in as honest and as fully as possible because if you fail to and the referee is poor and the society do not get to find out, the next occasion you see this referee could be for that vital league game or even in the cup final/semi-final. Also and opposite if he is a good referee tell the society so that he can be appointed to more senior games - these may include that vital league game/local deby or the cup semi.

the final message to bith the skipper and the captain before you leave them with the card must be:-

if you do not complete a referees card and do not speak to him about you concerns on his game you are not doing the referee, you and your team, and most of all the game any favours. If they want the best referees week in week out complete the card and do your bit in the development of referees so that they become the best.

If all of your referees take the same message eventually the coaches especially begin to understand.

Hope this helps

Robert Burns
04-07-06, 15:07
Welcome to the forums Chris.

A good message maybe to give to the clubs!

04-07-06, 16:07
the vagaries of the card system with subjective quality judgements .... excellent, good, bad, awful ...
I had an away captain (14) demand me in the bar to give him a card so he could mark me as 'awful' for all categories... scrum as well !! His team lost 43-10 or similar. Shelford for you. 14s as capts for you. what do they know about scrums?
I replied that i had an assessor who provided me with an excellent assessment. He wasnt happy.
No, i dont like cards for capts in general.

04-07-06, 16:07
Thank yuou for the welcome - not found the site long so enjoing catching up on many of the threads

Maybe as we as referees join our local clubs for pre season training we could be trumpeting the importance of giving feedback on referees - both by card and actually talking to the ref. [its a good time to do it as all of the players will be out of breath!!]

05-07-06, 09:07
Ex-Lucy - did you ask him to explain just what he thought was awful, open up a discussion where he could say why he was unimpressed, and perehaps discuss with him some of the reasons why you took the decisions you did.

Perhaps he felt you allowed them to come offside at rucks/mauls - or perhaps his scrum half was just so slow getting the ball away that he gave them the opportunity to get to the hinge. Perhaps he felt the scrum went doen too often - was it his props fault? etc.etc.

Then after the discussion give him the card, andf if it a crap one then take it on the chin - it happens, it isn't always fair when it does. But most captains - once they have calmed down and considered things will give a fair assessment - even if you may not always agree with them.

And wingers can have reasonable opinions - even though they're not real rugby players like props...

05-07-06, 11:07
davet, we did have a 'discussion' but it wasnt particularly constructive on his part ... i tried to explain some of my decisions ... this was a level 11 match and to be quite honest some of his players (incl himself) just werent up to the opposition's level (the Shelford pack was very very old and the backs were Colts) and i think they were frustrated. I was refereeing strictly at the breakdown bec of their frustrations possibly overflowing and the lack of skill of recycling. I think they were used to more lenient laissez faire refs. I dont like letting my standards at scrums and breakdowns be lowered. The captain was also upset at a yellow card i gave!
There was a scrap on the floor near the Shelford try line. Midway thru sec half.
Letchworth were driving to the line. The Big No 8 (Shelford) dropped the maul and played the ball on the floor despite my shouts and warnings. The Letch player nearby apparently nutted him which i didnt see because the huge no 8 was quite gargantuan and he was lying across the prone Letch player. I was playing advantage to Letch bec it was near the try line.
8 threw a punch. I blew my whistle and asked him to stop. He continued against the prone oppo player. I continued to blow and eventually seperated the players. 8 was bleeding from mouth. I yellow carded the 8. 8 and capt said "are you not going to do anything about him (oppo)." I said no because i didnt actually see him do anything. both were very upset.
I gave a penalty Letchworth, who kicked the goal.
I ran up to the Letch player and warned him about his future conduct and that i was watching hims closely from then on - as much for his own protection. No further problems.
In the bar, After much debate, about collapsing mauls and pile ups (for which i recvd high commendations from the assessor) he said "and what about the dummy ... you are not allowed to dummy from a quick tap penalty, if you do then it is the same as taken and we can charge ..."

Some captains just dont want to see reason and often see black and white. They lose 43-10 and still reckon they woz robbed and then pick on some small trivial incident as proof of the ref's incompetence ... (sounds like me and Dickenson!!)
I dont see why my performance should be judged by an ignorant emotional person.

05-07-06, 12:07
I dont see why my performance should be judged by an ignorant emotional person.

Quite right ex-Lucy but you should leave the judgement of that to your Chief Advisor who, along with all his assessors, will have done the training and knows how to sort out the emotional ignorants from the remainder. You need to look said ei in the eye and and ask him to be objective in writing you up, even if the result is disappointing. It is far better that the Chief Advisor gets 8 ei reports and 2 sensible ones rather than just those you want him to see. At least he will get a better idea as to where the ei's are.

I looked at my feedback returns over a 3 month period and had great difficulty finding any consistency in them; some thought that the sun shone out of every orifice and others repeatedly questioned whether my parents had been married. At a subsequent training meeting I had the nod to see the Chief Advisor whose only comment was 'Well you get on alright with level 10s and 12s but for some reason you seem to be pi$$ing off the level 11s.' I was upgraded at the end of that season and believe strongly that you have to have some faith in your referee coach/advisor. The more information he has, the better he can help you along. None of us should be too proud to take criticism even if much of it is an emotional blathering from a disappointed ignoramus. Have faith in your own ability and in the wisdom of your training team.:D

05-07-06, 12:07
"At a subsequent training meeting I had the nod to see the Chief Advisor whose only comment was 'Well you get on alright with level 10s and 12s but for some reason you seem to be pi$$ing off the level 11s.'"

and that's another issue ... i have met my Chief Advisor once ... and he brushed my queries aside. How can you trust a man/ men who are so secretive in their ways and means and dont communicate too well?

Simon Thomas
05-07-06, 16:07
I hope we are a little more enlightened in Hampshire - all those who attend the monthly training meetings have open access to the SADO (Society Assessor and Development Officer) as well as the other advisers / assessors / referee coaches. Active discussion is encouraged.

I would tell you how we analyse and use the club cards alongside the detailed assessments / coaching reports - but would then have to shoot you as it is a top secret thing ! As Deeps says, the SADO and grading committee members through experience can 'read between the lines' and always use cards as an indication and trend tool not for specifics. However a very good or a bad comment on a submitted report card would be followed up by direct personal contact and not left until the next grading round.

As referees we are delivering a service to our customers (the clubs and players) which we charge for and so I firmly believe we should conduct both quality assurance (assessments), training (obviously) and customer feedback channels (club cards).

05-07-06, 18:07
"As referees we are delivering a service to our customers (the clubs and players) which we charge for and so I firmly believe we should conduct both quality assurance (assessments), training (obviously) and customer feedback channels (club cards)."

oh dear ... this is what i fear ... and i thought we owed allegiance to higher matters ... i.e. The Laws !!
Standards. Controls. managing the customers expectations first.
Pandering to the customers desires is the road to kneejerk management.

05-07-06, 22:07
oh dear ... this is what i fear ... and i thought we owed allegiance to higher matters ... i.e. The Laws !!
Standards. Controls. managing the customers expectations first.
Pandering to the customers desires is the road to kneejerk management.

ex-lucy - Whether you like it or not, the referee's job is to provide the environment for 30 players to enjoy themselves; you manage that environment. Blind obedience to Law won't do this and will only push out negative vibes leading to negative feedback. Law comes only just above fun in my book and is certainly third in line behind safety and equity as we all know.

If the players don't enjoy themselves because referees cannot manage the environment effectively then they will drift away from the game. It's the players' game not the referee's after all. In the best games nobody notices the referee and that is an objective I think more should strive for.

06-07-06, 09:07
Any company that does not "pander to its customers' desires" will soon find some one else is, and that all of a sudden there are no customers left.

Now... Refeeeing is pretty much a monopoly, with the iRB at International level, RFU at National, and Societies below that. It seems to be generally accepted in the commercial sector that monopolies are generally unaccountable for their actions, and deliver over-priced and inadequate services. Even when a statutory regulator is in place the situation is helped only marginally.

If we truly want to "deliver a service to our customers", then perhaps some element of competition is appropriate.

Perhaps clubs could shop around for Societies which meet their needs, and buy in services - So a club in Birmingham may like the way Hampshire refs do things and book a ref from there - and so on.

True open competition with the ineffective going to wall, nature red in tooth and claw....evolution, survival of the fittest.

Would such a move raise standards of refereeing nationwide?

As a by the way - for Ex-Lucy - I note that you say you do not like to lower "your standards" at the breakdown.. and that the players were used to "more lenient" refereeing. Is there a case for adapting your standards to the quality and skills and conditions which exist in the match in front of you, or should you referee to the same standards at L12 on a wet, muddy and windy day as you do at L8 or even L5 and higher when the going is good to firm?

tim White
06-07-06, 10:07
WHO is going to keep up standards if not referees, and if not now, when?

Skill levels can easily be allowed for, deliberate cheating cannot be condoned.

Re. competition amongst societies, this will drive standards to rock bottom because few clubs will choose a ref who insists on applying the laws. I suspect they will choose the slow, lenient, maleable type -what level is this?

06-07-06, 12:07
This is a purely hypothetical question around the "open market" of referees, but I have to disagree with you Tim.

There may be a short term trend to "slow lenient referees", but I think it would reverse itself.

Why? Well, ask yourself what you would prefer:
Option 1 is a slow lenient malleable referee - who the opposition can mould just as easily; who is going to be just as cr@p to you as to the opposition. A referee who could negate any advantage your superior rugby skills might bring.

Option 2: fit, fast, draws his metaphorical line in the sand, and applies both the law and management skills. One who will allow superior skills to win out?

I know where I'd be going........

06-07-06, 12:07
i'm with Tim.
Reffing is not a corporate world/ environment and definitely nor is rugby.
It is a sport.
Sport is about winning.
The enjoyment for the participants is primarily in winning.
If captains could choose their referees they would choose refs who would let them win more often, cf Boks and ABs pre-unbiased refs (and italian soccer situation in court just now).
So, in an environment where Capts chose refs we wouldnt be obeying laws, we would be ignoring some laws to suit the capt who is paying for our services and who may want our services again in a few weeks time.
and thrice No, i say...

Simon Thomas
06-07-06, 13:07
Interesting debate and some wonderful fantasies gents !
Dave T your open competition idea is unworkable -
a) most referees won't travel out of county
b) Societies appoint to matches, clubs don't choose referees
c) travel costs would be prohibitive

We are unlike the commericial or even public sector in that our members do it for fun, and we charge to cover our costs. We do it for the players surely not just for ourselves ? All the measures we have in place currently are pro-active management, hardly knee-jerk ?

The reality is we as referees have to deliver our services in line with safety, equity and thirdly IRB laws (with maybe local variants by the Home Union). The RFU Referee Department has (and still is) doing a lot of work in national quality standards in the last 10 years - both in assessment and the training to create minimum performance (a continually rising bar ) and consistent standards nationally. Remember it is not long ago for example London Society refs were all graded B2 for example - across an enormous level of competences ! Now there are numeric grade levels in most Societies [Herts will catch up one day ex-Lucy !] for all referees and careful appointments to match referees and games, create referee development opportunities, etc.

Referee Societies (Feds and panel too) are a monopoly yes in their own CB, caused by the various competition regulations that exist for RFU and local county RFU (CBs) competitions (leagues and cups), and the historical set-up. Therefore we have a service agreement with the RFU and CBs and the clubs to appoint (implication is that it is our choice NOT their's who referees) a competetant and capable referee of a suitable grade to all matches .....(blah blah blah). A Society is measured on it's overall performance (% matches covered, our recruitment success, and ultimately against the RFU 5 year strategy plan of having 1 registered referee to every 30 registered players) but interestingly not by any measure of referee performance on the pitch - and hopefully we never will be. Most referee perforance measures used by clubs are 'soft' qualitative ones based on personal perceptions and feel-good (or bad) factors.
This is where the CLUB CARDS are vital to spot trends and identify excellent referee performances or possible issues (especially related to referee safety), as a crucial supplement to official Society assessments.
By their constitution, Societies are tied to their CBs clubs, although there are some exceptions for rare appointments. We have some Dorset & Wilts clubs that have Hampshire appointments for historical reasons, and I have heard of others elsewhere in England.
Where we do get 'competition' between Societies is at Federation / Groupo . PNR level where our members are contesting the few available places with other Societies' members.
Within our Counties (CBs) we try to keep our club referee charges to a minimum and certainly do not make a profit - and clubs get pretty good value ! I wonder what will happen (if or when) we go the soccer route and pay all referees (who will have to be qualified) say 25 per match, even at the lowest grade levels. Hopefully that is many many years away.
Many referees do not reclaim travel expenses as it is their hobby, and we by careful appointment minimise travel costs of those that do. We also may subsidise out of sponsorship monies special long trips. At level 5 and above the Groups and RFU handle the financial aspects.

The one area I discuss most with rugby colleagues at county and club level is delivering a consistent refereeing standard, and working as a partnership with the coaching side of the game. We are increasingly developing better relationships with coaches, and that must continue. Expectation management is part of that process - there is no suggestion that Laws will be ignored or cheating allowed and my experience is that everyone benefits in this partnership situation. Ands it helps to not just maintain standards but improve them hopefully.

06-07-06, 14:07
Simon, I agree with you - my "idea" was presented with tongue embedded in cheek...


They underlying point is that the game is there for the benefit of the players, and it is to those "customers" to whom we should look to let us know how they feel the game should be refereed.

I am not here talking about individual games, and referees; but I am talking about the community game, and the way that refereeing styles and the degree of rigour applied can be varied to suit level and conditions in order to ensure that all 31 participants have an enjoyable 80 minutes.

It was prompted by Ex-Lucy remark about "his standards", and the implication that if he was refereeing the game then his wishes, standards - call them what you will - took precedence over those of the players.

I would be interested to know what the group feels might be the appropriate response if after the 1st 20 minutes of a game both capatins approached the ref and said "We know your rulings are technically correct - but can you give us a bit more time to clear the breakdown - some of the guys are a bit old and it takes 'em half a second to work out where they are after a tackle - by penalising it too quickly you are spoiling our pleasure in the game".

With regard to Soccer style payments to refs - I can guarantee absolutely that it will not happen until after I have stopped refereeing.

06-07-06, 15:07
Have you ever had a really incompetent referee? I doubt it.

Some years ago we turned up to an away game with 15 players to find the opposition had 15 players and no referee. When we got across to the pitch, there was a lone spectator. The captain said he was always there, but had no idea who he was. Should we ask him to referee? He did.

The first clue was when, having correctly awarded us a drop out, he penalised them for not being back 10 metres. He knew enough to shout "let's see a clear gap" at the lineouts, but had no idea about offside. When we were penalised, the opposition signalled a kick a goal, and then ran the ball. The "try" was awarded. It got farcical, so at half time we agreed to police ourselves, owning up to forward passes, knock-ons, offside etc. Remarkably fairly too.

On the other hand I twice had the pleasure of being refereed by a National League ref who wanted a runout after a tough League game the previous night. I had no idea just how much a top class ref could improve the game. Instead of cheating, people tried to play rugby, and it was so much more fun.

The answer in the long run is surely a no-brainer.

06-07-06, 15:07
what if your kids turned around one day and said "Dad, pls drop your standards and let us muck up the living room. Oh and you clear up the mess."?
what if the people turned round and said to the govt "pls drop your standards with crime and punishment and let us have a bit of anarchy today. oh and you can pick up the mess."?
It's not quite the same sort of relationship but i believe that it tends to be more like an enlightened despot relationship with his children/underlings than a customer/ sales relationship.

06-07-06, 16:07
what if the people turned round and said to the govt "pls drop your standards with crime and punishment

Isn't that called democracy?

more like an enlightened despot relationship with his children/underlings

So is the Referee in loco parentis? Are the players subordinate to the referee? Are they there for his benefit?

06-07-06, 17:07
Davet. that's not democracy...
Crikey, if we voted every few days for a change in the law.
Where would be the consistency, the stability?

we cant have standards dropped with any old whim ... what about the next whim? what about next week?

I believe in some accountability and responsibility but not pushbutton kneejerk anarchy based on today's fashionable whims.

i think we are going off topic ...

15-08-06, 23:08
At tonight's meeting I picked up one of the cards we use for expenses/ clubs reporting on referee. The right hand bit is the receipt for expenses, and the other part is a pre-stamped reply card which the club can post. As part of collecting his expenses, the referee asks for the card to be filled in. I don't know what the success rate is, but the cards are reckoned to be useful in pointing the grading committee and advisers where to look.


Simon Griffiths
15-08-06, 23:08
I'd say that they are filled in almost always in my experience and I have to hope that they are posted by someone - sometimes they hand it back to me (that's when they don't get posted, which is a shame, I've got a few comprising entirely of 5s lying around somewhere).

Whether they're useful for grading? I'm not sure what the grading committees use. ;)

Mike Whittaker
16-08-06, 08:08
As OB says, Simon, they are mostly just a guide to the society as to where to look.

What you really need is some good assessments...

You will no doubt find on various sites assessment forms which you can download and complete for yourself with appropriate nome de plume! Of course you will have to print off and post or use a different email address but should get you far more recognition than a card from a captain.

The above may be trickey if there is a 'genuine' assessor present writing his own report but if you get yours in first ... :rolleyes:

Simon Thomas
16-08-06, 12:08
Club completed freepost pre-addressed Referee Match Cards are a vital contribution to giving supportive evidence to formal assessments at grading time and can also identify exceptionally good or bad performances. However our grading decisions use them as a pattern, not as specifics. And those on the grading committee know all obsure variations that occurr club to club, team to team, different skippers/coaches etc.
We are this season making formal requests to all clubs to ensure the Referee Match Cards are completed and returned. Our travel expenses process is a separate one and not related to Referee Match Cards.

I sit as an Observer as Society Chairman in the Grading Committee meetings so can throw some light on how it works in our case.

This is how it works in Hampshire as we go through all one hundred or so active referees twice a season - it is a long long meeting usually 4 hours or so. A few ad hoc re-gradings are made as a sub-committee at Society monthly full committee meetings.

Two weeks before the scheduled grading meeting each member of the Committee is given a set of documents that cover each referee

a) Form 2 Assessments (Devpt Squad and Exchanges)
b) Form 1 Coaching Reports (most referees)
c) Summary of Club Cards returns
d) any positive or negative comments received from other sources

The number of assessment/coaching forms and club cards varies referee by referee naturally for a number of reasons.

Prior to the Grading Commitee meeting each member of the Committee makes and submits to the Chairman their own recommendation for each referee's grade - put up, put down or stay the same (if this option applies then he also assesses if the referee should be watched, or given development assistance).
We have a rule that above level 10 no referee can be up-graded unless he is watched and formally assessed at the higher level, usually by an exchange out-of-county match.

At the meeting all Committee members recommendations are collated on a single sheet and compared. The Committee go through the refs one by one starting at the highest level (5 - as we don't grade Panel Refs) and working down. Only if there is not a unanimous recommendation is the grading debated and a consensus decision then made.
Some of the things considered are

What is the refs current grade ?
When was it last changed ?
Indication of on-going development progress, has he 'plateaued out', is he on the way down ?
How many matches has he done ?
What are his ambitions and goals on his annual Personal Development Plan ?
What are necessary actions to give him best opportunity to progress ?

If necessary the Assessment reports are re-read and club card summary looked at again, and a majority decision reached.

We operate an appeal option by referees to the main Committee and reviewed by non-members of Grading Committee. Additionally we co-opt an experienced person from outside the Society to be on the Grading Committee - usually someone from the County Union.

We think it is a transparent and fair system, so no one needs to submit self-completed assessments as Mike W suggests (with tongue firmly in cheek !)
You would be spotted pretty easily - I can usually tell which of our Advisers has written a report by the style, typeface and content. So a referee, who is not a trained Adviser could rather stick out.

Simon Griffiths
16-08-06, 12:08
My last sentence was slightly tongue in cheek too...

Of course I'd never stoop to the levels that Mike suggests, I still haven't filled in stuff for money at Uni, so I not going to find another form to fill in - and I'm happy enough with all of my assessments anyway.