SRU Referees Protocol


SEASON 2014/2015

Referee - Club Protocol

This document lays out the protocol that referees will expect from clubs and their coaches for the season 2014/2015 and beyond.

Referee abuse is becoming a major problem in the game particularly at the mini/junior level and from coaches, managers and spectators. Clubs should be aware that the Referee Society, conscious of its duty of care to its members, is now asking its members to highlight issues of abuse from spectators, players and coaches at clubs. Referees, the same as players, do make mistakes in the game.

Incidents where Referees have had to abandon matches due to poor player discipline or coach/spectator abuse are increasing. Clubs should be aware that the RFU recommended sanction for an abandoned game is a 25-point deduction. (A league club 2nd team could get its first team that sort of deduction.)


  • The referee should where possible arrive at the ground no later than 45minutes prior to kick off to ensure that all the safety checks required can be done in time. They should on arrival make contact with the captains/coach/team manager to enable these checks to be carried out prior to kick off.
  • The referee will referee the game according to the laws of the game and will expect the players and coaches of the teams involved to have an understanding of the laws of the game as well.
  • Referees will go through the sequence for scrums with the respective front rows and scrum half and also check the studs of all players including replacements in the game.
  • Referees will insist that all replacements from both teams are on the same side of the playing enclosure due to the regulation re rolling substitutions. Replacements will only be allowed to come on from the halfway line with the permission of the referee and in accordance with the current RFU regulation (13.5 Appendix 2 in 2014-15). See also section on Coaches below.
  • Referees will brief the touch judges of what they expect from them (touch and conversions/penalties).
  • Referees will be available to coaches up to 15mins prior to kick off for questions on the game but it is up to each individual referee as to whether he/she wishes to answer any of them
  • Referees may, if they wish, speak to the captains of each side at half time as part of their game management strategy. Any approach to the referee at half time (e.g. to confirm the score) must be through the captain – see below for exception re U14 and younger age groups.
  • Referees will not be available to coaches/club officials from 15mins before the game until 30mins after the end of the game including half time.


  • Coaches should not approach the referee from a period of 15mins prior to the start of the game till 30mins after the final whistle. (They may during the game indicate to the referee that they want to make a replacement.)
  • Any dialogue with the referee during the game should be made via the captain. In mini/midi and junior matches (under 14 and below) where this is not applicable then the coach may be allowed at the discretion of the referee to discuss playing matters at half time.
  • Coaches should restrict themselves to the technical area if one is provided. If one is not, then to a point between the halfway line and the 10-metre line.
  • Coaches should at all times be well beyond the touchline and should not walk or run up and down the touchline and must not be in the in goal area
  • Where possible coaches should be discouraged from acting as TJ and should be available in the technical area to manage substitutions
  • Coaches who stand behind the posts may do so provided they are well outside the playing area and where a barrier is provided behind that barrier.
  • Coaches should be encouraged to give positive playing instructions to their own players but should not shout at the referee. Continual shouting at the referee can be considered abuse/harassment and as such can be reported to the appropriate disciplinary authority.
  • Referees appreciate the time and effort put into the game by the coaches and they will of course not always see decisions the same way. Referees are encouraged to speak to coaches, and there is no reason why a discussion cannot take place in the clubhouse after the game after the 30 minute period.
  • Coaches can also contact the referee society’s training or development officers to discuss the referee’s performance. If a match observer is in attendance s/he may also be approached.


  • Clubs where possible should provide a barrier between the playing enclosure and spectators for the safety of both the players and the spectators. This will also restrict access to the playing enclosure.
  • If this is not possible the Club must ensure that spectators and/or parents are aware that they must not come onto the playing enclosure.
  • Clubs at level 5, 6 and 7 must ensure that a technical area is clearly marked on the side of the pitch.
  • Clubs have all signed up to the good conduct code and have a responsibility to ensure that players, coaches and spectators are all fully aware of its contents and how to behave.
  • Clubs must have a process by which they can deal with members who have behaviour problems with match officials or who verbally abuse referees.
  • Clubs should bear in mind that some referees are under 17 years of age and verbal abuse is treated very seriously by the RFU/Staffs CB and the Referees Society.
  • Clubs should be aware the Referees Society will actively back and support club referees who are subject to abuse/ behaviour problems when refereeing games.

Physios & Medical

  • If a team has a team physio and/or first aider, they should inform the referee prior to the game of their attendance.
  • If a player is injured during play, the team’s physio / first aider may enter the field of play to attend to the player(s). However, they must take care and responsibility for their own safety and be aware of the possibility of being injured by approaching players.
  • If appropriate the physio/first aider should bring the matter to the attention of the referee. Any decision as to whether to stop or continue with play is entirely at the discretion of the referee.
  • If a player is injured the referee may, with or without medical advice, require a player to leave the field of play either temporarily or permanently