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Referees 2 of 2

2. Checklists

The role of the referee is:

  • to ensure that 30(+) players can play with safety, equity within the laws
  • to create time and space to maximise opportunities, whatever their abilities
  • to enjoy a fair, safe and equitable contest


The referee’s checklists – in helping to achieve the above, remember to set out your stall right from the outset and to be consistent throughout.

The basics:

  • Players are on their feet
  • They are on-side
  • Advantage must always give opportunities to the non-offending side


  • Voice, signals and whistle – in varying tones and volume i.e. make your whistle talk too!
  • To be preventative – how to penalise without having to blow the whistle
  • To allow the game to flow – within acceptable parameters – ATP – Ask, Tell, Penalise – the ask is often in the pre-match briefing
  • To be approachable but not gullible – Captains only - not open forum
  • To maximise downtime to help get your message across, reiterating the points made in the pre-match briefing
  • To be firm and calm


  • Get them level
  • Crouch – Touch - Pause – Engage. It’s your call, not theirs
  • Keep them a suitable/comfortable distance prior to the above
  • Square and stable – they must be comfortable too
  • Full arm bind and attached 'til the end
  • Backs 5m away 'til ball is out


  • Has it formed?
  • Two straight lines with a clear space
  • The thrower – behind the line. The throw without delay – the jumpers wait til it’s in.
  • A fair contest – priority anything untoward across the line!
  • The threes back 10 til it ends


  • Get there/Be first there to see … then move to get the wider view
  • The tackler to release the tackled man and roll away
  • The tackled man to be free to place the ball as far back as possible and roll away
  • All other players to arrive and stay on their feet
  • To arrive through the gate

Ruck and Maul:Know the difference and call it

  • Check on those joining and then those outside
  • Call “Ruck”
  • Call “Maul”
  • Having got there and seen it – move to get the wider view


  • The best law in the book:
  • Where is it on the field of play? Close to the non-offending goal line, midfield, close to the tryline?
  • What’s the offence/issue – knock-on, therefore scrum or penalty kick?
  • Tell them - Scrum advantage; penalty advantage; advantage over
  • Talk to them – signal to them – the key players need to know
  • Tactical or territorial – wait and see. The class referee always has time!
  • Don’t call them back – bring them back

There is a difference between empathy and sympathy. The former is the trait of a good referee; the latter shows weakness.

Fitness is both physical and mental – without the first the second becomes a struggle.

Make your own checklists – use these. Go through them when training, when warming up, when pre-match briefing, at the next situation – tackle, maul, ruck, scrummage, lineout, kick, injury, etc.

I hope the above will help focus your mind on the key issues. Physical fitness and speed of thought and reaction go hand in hand!