RugbyRefs.com is a website developed specifically for Rugby Union Referees from around the world, it has recently though started adding areas for Rugby League referees as the two can learn a lot from each other. RugbyRefs.com was created in November 2003 by Robert Burns who was at the time a referee for the London Society of Rugby Football Union Referees (LSRFUR).
Robert had recently been appointed as the LSRFUR Webmaster and wanted to make the LSRFUR website more interactive, which was very difficult given the limitations on the Content Management System they used, but found his ideas and views on what constituted a good referee website were not shared by those who had the say on what could and could not go on the website. Though he did manage to pursuade LSRFUR to upgrade their website, it still wasn't what he believed would work best, and so in November 2003 he bought the domain and created RugbyRefs.com.
Robert's passion for his website was limited by a number of things, but mainly time and money. Robert purchased a VBulletin forum to run on the site and tried to build in various features to make the site more useful to those who chose to join it. Though it was clear from the start that a place for referees to discuss their experiences and questions away from the masses of supporters & players was very well received, most having used PlanetRugby and the RFU forums before hand which were dominated by fans who neither knew the laws well enough or wanted to learn.
As the internet developed it was clear that whilst Robert was very good at coding HTML, he was going to have to figure out how to work with PHP.
The forums whilst always being the heart of the site had additions to them in the early days that were both popular and not so popular, the arcade, vbookie and tournaments and ladders were all features that really didn't need to be on the site. Robert knew there was something missing but wasn't quite sure what. And so RugbyRefs.com was left to develop for a while.
At this point Robert took a break from rugby for about 10 months, happy that his site was safe with how it was working.
Moderation & Management
Whilst RugbyRefs.com is a forum it is lucky enough to be blessed with users that require very little management, the fact that in 8 years of running only one thread has had to be closed as Robert was concerned it would be picked up search engines and look bad. Something he was not really bothered about until a UK national newspaper used one of the sites rubbish threads (about a player wearing a hat, started by a player) to poke fun at rugby referees. Not the sort of publicity Robert had wanted.
The fact is the whilst RugbyRefs.com does have members with the ability to moderate, their use is mainly to delete spam and ban the spammers, a job that has been pleasantly absent with the introduction of the new forums suite.
Current site moderation is carried out by a team of members selected for their ability to see reason and their location to cover the site 24 hours a day. The members are:
RugbyRefs.com has had a few logos in its time but is now similarly branded across both RugbyRefs.com & LearnRugbyUnionLaws.com to show they are part of the same site.
The first logo looked like this, as as you can see had an obvious grammatical error.
The next and more modern logos were chosen from a good range by the members, the first version and the ball icon are currently undergoing trademark application.
The ball graphic now appears on all that are part of the RugbyRefs.com network
The Ivy League style logo was created by Jamie Winegard as an alternative and is in use on the brown skin.
Today RugbyRefs.com is proud to be one of the biggest Rugby Referee sites on the net, it has a membership of over 1500 referees (it would have been 4000 but Robert used to prune inactive members, this is no longer done). It is certainly one of the first places grassroots referees come for advice and to share their experiences.
The Forum suite is the latest in the VBulletin series, and also has Moodle and Mediawiki programs running alongside it for information (wiki) and learning (moodle).
A rating system has been developed to allow members to rate the top referees, this allows RugbyRefs.com to be able to display a ranking table showing who, according to our membership, are the top 10 referees in the world at the moment. (Currently disabled to improve functionality)
Applications for the iPhone & Android phones were released in mid 2011.
RugbyRefs.com also ventured into the world of twitter with the name @RugbyRefscom.
In 2012 RugbyRefs.com added a Facebook page to it's ways of interacting with the site. Users of Facebook can now use their Facebook login to access and post on the site, as well as using the Facebook page to post questions and comments.
Since creating RugbyRefs.com Robert has been busy creating other sitesin the same style most due for completion in 2011/12.
These sites are:
- LearnRugbyUnionLaws.com - A site to test your knowledge of current Rugby Union Laws
- LearnRugbyLeagueLaws.com - A site to test your knowledge of current Rugby League Laws (Domain purchased, no work started).
There are others too, but Robert doesn't want to reveal them yet.
RugbyRefs.com is also the owner of a number of country specific domains including:
- RugbyRefs.co.uk (Owned currently by a RugbyRefs.com member but in the process of being transferred to RugbyRefs.com)
RugbyRefs.com is committed to giving the best possible assistance to it's membership for as little cost as possible, ideally nothing, in keeping with this RugbyRefs.com is developing its learning website and a log to allow referees to write about the games they have refereed.