View Full Version : Referee Recruitment

Simon Griffiths
30-06-06, 23:06
Hi everyone, I'm back after a few days galavanting around the Lake District (generally surrounded by mist!).

A few things around have got me thinking about referee recruitment. Some articles on the Community Rugby site and the whole debate over club feedback forms started me off.

How do we go about referee recruitment? What made you become a referee, or what would make you become one now if you already weren't?

Anything would be interesting - both English and international view-points please - are there differences where rugby isn't mainstream?

I'll give you why I 'joined up' - it was as part of the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. As far as recruitment goes, the Young Officials Scheme (Programme, or whatever...) could be used well, not just to get young people into officiating, but also to coax other club members along too (a bit of black-mail perhaps regarding Sunday fixture appointments...)

Over to you.

01-07-06, 00:07
I was not having fun playing anymore but I still wanted to be a part of the game.Word got out that I had retired from playing at a fairly young age and I was contacted by the locol Referee Unions President,Echange officer and scheduler and was invited to attend a meeting.I also had My wife nudging me down the path.
I think if we aproach players aand any person that will listen.We show them how they could use their skills to better the sport and just how much fun you can have.

01-07-06, 09:07
I took up refereeing as a result of dad forcing me to do a course as an attempt to teach me to respect referee's and the difficult job that they have. Another reason was that i wanted to be able to answer 'yes' when a referee asked me if i was one, in doing so shutting down any path which he had to further the discussion. I was captain of my sides and will admit that if a captain approached me the same way i approached referee's especially in the few games after gaining my certification i would be rightly pissed off and have a chat to the captain about the way he addresses me.

I really enjoyed the field tests and thought 'what an easy job' which didn't really help the whole referee questionning side, but then i suffered some serious shoulder injuries in a season, and it was recomended that i hang up my boots. Still in love with the game, i decided that refereeing was a fantastic path i could take as not only would it allow me to be involved with the game still but also show those 'refs' how it really should be done.

3 years later i am SO glad i made that decision and i have certainly travelled further with my refereeing that i think i would have with my playing. Sure i stilL miss playing but i wouldn't give up the whistle for the world!!!

01-07-06, 15:07
I was only involved in the game about a year and a half when my club hosted the referee class. I did not know much about the game, in terms of law, but thought it would be neat to referee. Just started doing it while I played. Then injuries forced me to stop playing and started reffing and coaching, but quit coaching only three years ago when I wanted to take reffing seriously because I could ref at a higher level in the states.

Looking back I have only been involved in rugby for 7 years, three as a player, and only three years truly as a ref.....

Chris Picard
03-07-06, 15:07
Injury, blackmail by our director of assignments and work.

ACL injury lead to coaching high schools and colleges, then men's and women's sides. Did not have time to continue coaching on a fulltime basis and our director of assignments told me the club I was coaching need to supply a referee our we would not get one for the weekends. Then too much work and only weekends free, so switched to reffing in 2002.

03-07-06, 16:07
Lumbar disc prolapse aged 21 - choice of quit rugby or quit walking. Refereeing seemed like the best way to stay involved in the game - after all, there are far too many coaches out there, and not nearly enough refs.

03-07-06, 16:07
First picked up a rugby ball in 1964 when I went to secondary school, played for many years but got the point about 5 or 6 seasons ago when I stopped "bouncing" - and some damn fool suggested I referee instead.

Done so for the past few years and enjoy it immensly - though the regret is thatI stayed playing way beyond the point when, if I'd started to ref, I could have made (I hope) progress beyond the level I reached as a player.

Which leads me to advise reasonable, but not necessarily top, players who are mid 30s that reffing could be a good move - younger if possible.

03-07-06, 20:07
First picked up a rugby ball in 1949. Played until a year or so ago. As a consequence, the only reffing I have ever done has been casual stuff.

However I had always been one of those curious players (in both senses of the word) who actually wanted to know what the laws said, so when the RFU invented a scheme for Club Advisers, I signed up.

My knowledge of refereeing comes from listening, reading, and watching others. That probably accounts for a lot! It certainly means I restrict myself to double-digit refs, even though I am technically a Level 2 Adviser.

03-07-06, 20:07
I took it up as it hurt so much after playing on Saturday by Sunday I could not get to the pub for my lunch time pint. My son who is 23 is keen to start next season he is at UCE in Birmingham,has played at mini, junior, and at university not sure if West Mids supply the referees or is there a British University Society can anyone supply a contact.As at the start of this season my society will no longer run Foundation courses

03-07-06, 21:07
Winn - if you don't run Foundation courses, how will you recruit referees? Word is that it will soon be a requirement before referees can be appointed.

03-07-06, 22:07
After 20 odd years found that keeping up with the level I was playing at was getting to hard. After some pushing by a senior ref took up refereeing and found that I had to work harder at refereeing than at playing.

Only recently I started running referee courses for people involved in junior rugby. A few actualy get a feel for the whistle and move on to senior rugby. Also a quite a few U19 participate in the courses. They will be referee's for junior matches and who knows in a few years time? Getting U19's involved in refereeing now may help us in future.

03-07-06, 23:07
Holland Society of Referees! One of our refs, Neil Dill, whom you may have come into contact with at the Amsterdam 7's is trying to start an exchange between New England and Holland!

Simon Thomas
04-07-06, 13:07
Hampshire had a great exchange a couple of seasons ago with the Netherlands Referee Society (Holland) with a mix of Dutch / ex-pat refs coming to Hampshire and three of us going to Amsterdam to do Dutch Premier League matches (level 6/7).

Hope we can get it going again as they were great guys who enjoyed entertaining and gave us fantastic hospitality over in Amsterdam (and we never made it to the red light district !)

Simon Thomas
04-07-06, 13:07
Winn & OB ..... to avoid any confusion !

1. Winn, best to get your son to contact David Rose who is RRDO (rugby referee development officer) for Midlands, and is also a Premiership Panel referee too; and a great guy who loves our Game at all levels.
It is likely there is a RUSLO (rugby union student liaison officer) at UCE Birmingham or David will put your lad in contact with either the local Society trainer / recruitment officer or the RFU's RRT (rugby referee trainer) for that area who does the NFC courses.
email DavidRose@rfu.com

2. Winn - it isn't really true that your Society will not run the NFC courses (as volunteers or through your regional RRT [paid RFU employee]). The NFC continues until 30th October 2006, but then the current NFC course is being upgraded and replaced by a higher quality one called ELRA (entry level referee award) which has three distinct consecutive parts with more practical sections than current NFC.
The admin and organisation will be handled centrally by the RFU and the regional RRDOs and not by individual Societies anymore (who can of course still feed in delegates !).
Each stage of ELRA qualifies the ref to a higher level - Part 1) school / college refs then Part 2) a club ref and finally Part 3) for Society ref (which is a log-book and formal assessment phase primarily).
Only accredited RFU Trainers will be used (currently being recruited by RFU - all Societies got the job spec and application forms last week - so Robin Miller of D&W should know all about it). They will be paid 'by the day' to run the ELRA courses, and will have to satisfy quality standards - so better courses and better trained referees from the outset. Many of these trainers are likely to be the current Society NFC volunteer trainers.
Perhaps your STO has decided not to be part of ELRA ? In which case your Society area will be covered by a new RFU Trainer (probably linked wth your Federation). At all the ELRA courses the RFU Accredited Trainers will stress opportunities and benefits of Society membership and will have direct connections to all Societies and Federations in their area to push Society recruitment.
Currently Hampshire gets about 10-15% of NFC attendees (which are run by a Society volunteer trainer) joining the Society - Hampshire trained 150 NFCs in 2005/06 season, so lots of new club and school / college refs as well as 20 new Society members.

3. OB - certification (not just accreditation or credentialisation - don't ask me what the differences are please !!!) may be brought in for RFU coaching (top levels 5 down to 2 over next few seasons - big debate as to whether it can be done for thousands of level 1 coaches though !). It appears referees could follow the same route over time. The drivers behind this seem to be costs of insurance premiums and issues of public liability cover for 'un-qualified' referees, and government's paranoia about protecting people / nanny state & legislation. All Society Refs are of course already qualified and assessed (once a season at least). Many club and schools / colleges refs are NFC qualified these days, but with so few assessors / advisers most club and school / college refs have never been watched (unless their club is lucky enough to have knowledgable volunteers like you about !).

04-07-06, 17:07
"How do we go about referee recruitment?"
Search out young and not-so-old recently injured players ... encourage them at every opportunity ... and dont let clubs and players ostracise them when they do referee. Provide dedicated parking spaces and changing rooms and showers and drinks before and after the match.
Pay them a decent mileage allowance.
Provide kit to beginners.
Provide good websites for further knowledge of laws with tests and forums for discussion.
all that is being provided at the moment... mostly! but not 100% of the time at 100% of clubs.
The trouble is, i believe, that the communication isnt great between refs and between refs and societies. Maybe some societies are better than others.

A lot of people i have spoken to who are thinking about reffing are 'scared' of being put in the middle and having to make decisions, of having 30 big blokes all hyped up for battle and then the ref making a mistake.
I try to explain to them that it's ok to make mistakes, esp at that level, and just relax but ... MDs, CEOs, Doctors etc ... scared of making decisions that might be mistakes!!
Pierce that bubble ... and you may succeed moreso.

"What made you become a referee, or what would make you become one now if you already weren't?"
I wanted to continue to 'play' the game i love on each and every Saturday and most Sundays (in season) like i have done for the last 35 years.
I just didnt want to 'play' Vets/ 4th XV rugby just yet.
I felt i could still be involved in a decent level of rugby by reffing and this would help me to keep fit. At 18 stone i find it difficult to keep my weight down and need all the encouragement and enducement possible to train and keep fit.
Refereeing provides me with all this and enjoyment.
Giving something back to the game i love ...and which has provided me with so much fun, friends, reward etc ... is a bonus.

04-07-06, 18:07
How do we go about referee recruitment?
I got a lot of info from the SRU about this. They have senior referees visit schools and universities to give presentations on the life of a top-level referee, but this mostly involves all the glitz and glamour and the awareness that there is a support structure available (the mention of beep tests and 2400m isn't so enticing). London, GLAD, and Somerset could do this with their IRB referees and no doubt other societies have enough PNR referees to cover as well.

The SRU has pushed the slogan of "Same Pride, Different Jersey", with photos of the Changlengs playing alongside Gregor Townsend, then refereeing him later on (this also goes to show that Townsend is OLD).

It is also much better to recruit younger individuals that those who may suffer from burn-out towards the end of their playing careers. Not to mention that you'll likely get more years of refereeing from a 25 year old than a 45 year old (this goes back to the return-on-investment) as far as referees are concerned.

What made you become a referee, or what would make you become one now if you already weren't?
As for getting involved, I was lured to the dark side after returning to North America. Having to get changed on the side of a pitch, seeing a non-existant clubhouse with a non-existant clubhouse bar, and a lack of decent rugby that I probably wasn't good enough to play anyways, all topped off with recurring neck injuries 'forced' me into a rugby refereeing course. With all the travelling and opportunities provided, I'm now a much more focussed referee than a player and take my role far more seriously.

Anything would be interesting - both English and international view-points please - are there differences where rugby isn't mainstream?
In the Tier 1 nations, the possibility of refereeing at an IRB level is enticing, though this carrot doesn't apply to the lower Tier nations. Professional referees are also non-existant, and unlikely to happen in my lifetime.


04-07-06, 19:07
In the Tier 1 nations, the possibility of refereeing at an IRB level is enticing, though this carrot doesn't apply to the lower Tier nations. Professional referees are also non-existant, and unlikely to happen in my lifetime.


I hope to one day ref at the IRB Level......of course it is going to be the Cook Islands vs Sri Lanka, but hey if I can get there, I would be happy with that!

05-07-06, 12:07
Got into refereeing because of injury.
My training with Hampshire was "here's a law book, buy a whistle, and good luck at Eastleigh"....

It seemed a natural progression for me - I've always had SOME involvement in rugby since the age of 8, so it seemed perverse to NOT be involved.
I can't say the same for a lot of US players - rugby isn't as deeplt ingrained in their DNA as it is with others; add to that the ridiculous amount of travel involved, spouses who don't "get it", and you can start to see some of the pressures on recruitment here...

05-07-06, 13:07
Castlecroft are taking on referee trainers see below job description


At the Rugby Football Union, our Community Referees Department is committed to the recruitment, retention and development of Match Officials throughout the country.

In November 2006, we shall be launching the Entry Level Referee Award (ELRA) to replace the existing National Foundation Certificate (NFC). Comprising three phases, the ELRA will be the first National Governing Body Award to be mapped against the newly devised National Occupational Standards for Officiating.

A significant number of those attending the ELRA will be inexperienced referees and it is therefore crucial that their first referee training experience is of the very highest quality. We therefore now seek experienced and talented trainers to deliver Phases One and Two of the ELRA within a designated geographical area. You will work closely with your local Referee Development Officer (RDO) to source suitable venues and will then deliver to any category of referee wishing to undertake the Award. Along with the RDO, you will then provide appropriate guidance and support to those wishing to join their local Refereesí Society.

You will have considerable experience of delivering training within a structured environment and must have proven ability to inspire, motivate and develop others. You should possess considerable refereeing experience and a passion and insight for both the Game and the role of the Match Official. Needless to say, your interpersonal skills will be of the highest quality and you will have the ability to develop strong relationships with others. You must also be confident of being able to deliver a significant amount of the ELRA practically.

Completion of both Phases One and Two of the ELRA will require two full days and we would expect you to deliver approximately ten full courses throughout the year; there is no maximum number of courses that can be delivered. You will be paid a net fee of £100 for each day on which you are engaged in delivering the ELRA. Please note that these are voluntary posts.

Applications should be made by CV., enclosing a covering letter, to Barbara Flavell at the Rugby Football Union, Castlecroft Road, Wolverhampton WV3 8NA or by e-mail to barbaraflavell@rfu.com Further information can also be requested by contacting Andy Melrose, Training and Education Officer, on 07710 465230.

Please note that successful applicants will be required to attend a Product Familiarisation Workshop on the weekend of 23rd/24th September 2006.

The closing date for applications is 10th July 2006

tim White
05-07-06, 14:07
Check The Dates Correct?

Simon Thomas
05-07-06, 15:07
I am pleased to say we are somewhat more structured and sophisticated these days Simon S !
We offer NFC, Society and Development Referee courses, etc.
We deliver update sessions to Club Referees, we deliver special NFC courses at Southampton and Portsmouth Universities, we run a Young (Under 18) Officials scheme now takjen by RFU as best practice and rolled out nationally.

We have a Recruitment and Retention strategy, new referees 'mentors' for first months of life as a Society Referee (buddies with whom they go to run as TJ before they ref their first full match), special break-out sessions at Monthly meetings for lower grade / new refs, etc.