Last updated:
15/08/17 14:53

Improve Your Refereeing

6. How can I improve as a referee within the Society?

Any referee who considers that he cannot improve is fooling himself and doing the players and the game a disservice. The types of support come in three main forms (not entirely distinct), ‘self’, ‘other people’ and ‘other resources’.

6.1 Self

Ultimately, only one person can improve your refereeing and that’s you. Here are some possible methods for doing it. They obviously overlap with other people and resources.

1. Before the game, think about what went well and not so well in your last game. Set a couple of objectives for yourself for the next game (e.g. to clearly and concisely explain why the whistle went). You might commit them to paper as an aide memoire for when you arrive at the game. Even consider placing it in your score card, or written on the inside of one wrist.

2. During the game, split it up into ten/fifteen/twenty minute sections. When there is ‘down time’ ask yourself what ‘challenges’ the game is giving you, where are the problem areas and what should you do about them? Particularly do this at half time.

3. After the game, spend a couple of minutes thinking about your initial thoughts on what went well, what not so well? How did you do on your own objectives? Did you manage to analyse and do something about the ‘challenges’ you thought the game was giving you?

4. over time, you might develop longer term planning objectives for yourself which span, e.g. half a season.

6.2 Other people

1. choose to be allocated a ‘Mentor’ – another Society member who will take responsibility for befriending you for the initial period of your membership and help you solve any problems you might have (we all do!!)

2. Assessors

The Society is short of this precious resource! However, these are people (usually retired, experienced or temporarily injured referees) who will come and observe a specific game and offer you advice (usually 2 or 3 key points) post match, plus a written report.

3. Coaches

A small number of referees will be allocated a referee coach, who is responsible to the referee alone for his development.

4. Players, team coaches and spectators

It is always worth talking to them. Whilst you might not agree with them, it’s better to hear it and then decide what to make of it, probably later on your own, than never to hear it in the first place. Ask them how they saw things. Start with general ‘open’ questions like ‘how did you think the game went?’ If you had a particular objective for yourself (we hope you did!!), you might ask about their view of it, e.g. ‘how did you think the ‘tackle’ went?’ Be prepared for differences of opinion about your refereeing. If you don’t agree with something said about your refereeing, don’t be confrontational about it. You might briefly explain how you saw the situation/incident/phase of play, perhaps add something like ‘thanks for the comment, I’ll bear it in mind’. If someone is openly hostile, try to withdraw yourself from the conversation and talk to others. In the end, in extreme cases, although you want to avoid it, if you are really abused, see website. You need to report a series of facts to the Society.

5. Other referees – meetings, courses

Make yourself familiar with the schedule of meetings, specifically designed to help and support you (see, Training). Besides the formal topics covered there is always a good opportunity to talk informally to other referees. New referees meet as a group thirty minutes before the main meeting, with the Induction Officer, to share their issues and questions.

6.3 Other resources

1. Videos of games (some clubs video games, if this is the case, ask if you might receive a copy/offer to pay), TV games, Live games. Bear in mind things like the level of the game (there are both similarities and differences between your game and e.g. Premiership).

2. Websites. The most useful is:- (Gloucester & District Refs Soc) where others can also be found.

3. Read "Better Rugby refereeing", Ed Morrison and Derek Robinson (ISBN 9780955590108), a must for all referees, full of practical good advice from a former RWC Final referee.

Books. These include Referees’ biographies and see above.

4. Coaching courses; it’s amazing that more referees don’t go on these!! Also look at coaching resources, available at

5. Training with a club.