Last updated:
15/08/17 14:56

What is expected Pre, During and Post Match?

4. What do I do when I am appointed to a game?

This section provides basic information on how to deal with each game. However, it does not give advice on how to referee, as learning how to referee never stops (see Question 6).

4.1 Confirmation

  1. Ensure the fixture is confirmed as early as possible by the home club representative, who should contact you no later than Thursday evening. If not contacted, ring the club contact (WTR) and only then, if necessary, ring the Appointments Secretary.
  2. Obtain clear directions to the ground; check there are no road-works or other special events on the day; check normal travel time.
  3. Confirm the two teams, their colours and the kick-off time. If there is a colour clash, it is the Away team’s responsibility to change, but you need to ensure that the home team contact confirms this with them
  4. You might ask if teams have played each other before, is it a ‘friendly’, league or cup game. You need to know which competition the game is in, as appropriate regulations, e.g. number of replacements, vary. If it is a cup game, check what happens in the event of a draw at full time.
  5. Ensure you have club and contact’s phone numbers in case you have a last minute problem.


4.2 Equipment

  1. Two clean neutral shirts.
  2. Two clean pairs of shorts, matching socks and a clean pair of boots.
  3. Track suit for pre-match and warming up.
  4. Supply of score cards; means of recording any yellow or red cards or serious injury/incident all in waterproof container (e.g. Football referee’s wallet).
  5. Red and yellow cards.
  6. two each of whistle (Acme Thunderer recommended), watch, pen/pencil, (plus one pencil sharpener?).
  7. Remember to have your valuables secured, but keep a coin for the toss-up.
  8. stock of ‘club report cards’ (no longer used), for perforated expenses slip, which is used.
  9. finally have a spare of everything.

4.3 Pre-match

  1. Ensure you arrive at least ONE hour before kick-off time, having allowed plenty of time for the journey. Arrive in ‘smart casuals’, there is only one opportunity to make a good first impression (see Dress protocol on website).
  2. Locate changing area, drop off kit and introduce yourself to the home captain or officials.
  3. Accept any hospitality if offered, but don’t look too much at home when the away side arrives!
  4. Confirm captain’s name and locate home and away changing rooms.
  5. In doing so, confirm team colours, agree a mutually acceptable programme of events for checking boots and protective clothing, any player briefing you will give, which pitch you are on, the nature of medical back-up and the time for captains to toss up.
  6. change into kit and track suit.
  7. As part of your warm up, inspect the playing area paying particular attention to post protection, correct placing of flags and any debris on the pitch, i.e. check it’s safe. Advise someone (captain, official) if there is anything that needs to be removed, especially animal fouling.
  8. Consider any local issues such as overhanging trees, dodgy or unclear markings and inform captains how you will play it.
  9. Try to complete all the above as early as you can, leaving time for a thorough warm-up before the game.
  10. The content of the briefing at the toss is a matter of personal preference, but be brief, don’t lecture. Key areas are the toss (Home captain tosses, away calls), time per half, touch judges, medical cover, any front row cover (if injury, red or yellow card leaves no competent front row, go to ‘uncontested’ scrums), time to kick-off and the timing of the door knocks (usually five minutes to kick-off and then ‘we go three minutes (but how far is the pitch?) later, away side first’). Also ensure that they understand how many subs each team has and the procedure for interchanges (ball dead, through you).
  11. Ensure you brief the front rows and FR replacements of each team. This is essential and a safety issue.
  12. Final reminder (to yourself) of your objectives/priorities, some visualisation(?), muscle stretch before politely asking each team to take the field.

4.4 Match

(NB If you send a player off, contact the Vice Chairman within twenty four hours for help in writing your report and see Handbook. Advice is also available on the website)

  1. Keep time and score (write down kick-off real time).
  2. Blow loudly to start the game. Be decisive, consistent and fair. Act confidently. Be firm but friendly. Keep an accurate record of the score. Give yourself time, don’t be rushed into anything. Use Common Sense!
  3. Accurately record yellow cards so that you know when ten minutes playing time has elapsed. For yellow or red cards, you need full name, number and playing position, time and nature (description of) of offence, score at the time, nature of injury to (other) player. Use the red and yellow card protocol (‘DESC’ as per ‘Refereeing the 15 a side game").
  4. Remember two yellows is a red.
  5. ENJOY the game.

4.5 Post-match

  1. Applaud the players off the pitch and follow each team through the tunnel. Thank TJs and medical support.
  2. Just appear at the changing room door of each team, thank them for the game and move on.
  3. In your changing room, unwind and relax and collect your thoughts. If you are with an experienced ref, talk to him, he’ll help. You may wish to consult your Law book (not in the club!). If there was a Red card, check your notes.
  4. In the clubhouse, try and talk to players, without appearing to seek compliments, you can learn a lot from some of them. In your first game, the Induction Officer should be with you to act as your friend.
  5. Do not argue with players, coaches or officials. If issues can be resolved amicably and without major argument, then do so. Be calm and diplomatic at all times. Perhaps ‘agree to disagree’.
  6. If you had to Red card a player, do not discuss it, see 11. below.
  7. If an adviser is present, agree when and where you will meet for the de-brief.
  8. You should be offered your expenses, if not, approach the home captain or official. Calculate your expenses accurately.
  9. When you leave, thank the home club captain/official for their hospitality.
  10. At home, complete the Whistlers’ Trophy form.
  11. If you sent off any player, complete the discipline form (see website). If you had to send someone off, don’t be drawn into a discussion about it afterwards, even worse, do not express any opinion or state things like, ‘perhaps I got it wrong’. If pressed, state that ‘I’m sorry, but I’m not discussing it any further, my report will cover the facts’. If the sent-off player approaches you and apologises, accept it with thanks and incorporate what he said into the report.
  12. Never discuss anything with any reporter who may be present/telephone you. Contact the Chairman.

If you feel that you had a poor game (and we all do, at some point), don’t write off your refereeing career. Like players, referees need to get back on track for the next game. Talk it over with any of the following; your mentor, the Induction Officer, other Society Officer (e.g. Referee Development Officer, Hon. Sec., Chairman) or anybody else who’s opinions and judgement you respect and trust.

4.6 Safeguarding: Refereeing games of Under 19 age group and younger.

Safeguarding the welfare of our young players is paramount. Coaches, referees and volunteers have a moral and possibly a legal responsibility to provide the highest possible standard of care when we welcome young people into the game of Rugby Union.

RFU advice is that referees are not ‘in regular’ contact with young persons and therefore do not need an RFU Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure Clearance. 

However, the RFU/RFUW publish guidance on "Child and Young Player Protection Policy". For "under 19" games common sense advice for referees is as follows:


  1. Change in the same room as a youth team
  2. Shower with a youth team
  3. Allow a child/youth into your changing room without another adult being present
  4. Check boots etc. in the changing room without another adult being present
  5. Administer first aid unless properly trained.


  1. Challenge anyone taking a child and it appears that the child does not want to go
  2. Report any incident to the Society Secretary if you become concerned over the way any child is being treated by a coach, parent or other person
  3. Remember that your overriding thought must be for the protection of the child.

4.7 Finally, be aware that you must report every case of ‘sending off’, i.e. Red card (you only need to report Yellow cards if the same player receives two in one match, necessitating a Red card. You must also report all ‘serious injury’ cases. In both cases, see website.