Words of Wisdom

From Richard Every | High Performance Referee Manager | USA Rugby

  1. No marginal calls, focus on clear and obvious – it’s not a witch hunt.
  2. Foul Play
    1. Deliberate Knocks: By defenders preventing a pass completion
    2. Hurdling: A player may not hurdle a defender, it is dangerous play, period, no debate.
    3. Stomping: Absolutely cannot believe we still have to address this issue. It is not even debatable, send them off, RED CARD.
    4. In the air: If the player:
      1. Lands on their feet (and maybe goes to ground thereafter): PK only
      2. Side or lower back: PK & YC
      3. Neck & upper back: PK & RC
  3. Scrums: If you follow the process you can control the scrum better. There is no rush, no consistent cadence – each scrum should be approach as a separate scrum where you follow the process and all the checks.
    1. Crouch: Ensure a gap, no heads on shoulders, bodies straight
    2. Bind: Long bind, bodies straight
    3. Set: Maintain long binds, bodies straight
      1. Too many tight heads on arms, Looseheads pulling towards themselves and elbows down – both creates an unstable platform and boring in.


  1. Always use words and sentences that have meaning and make sense to players:
    1. “No”, “Away” etc. means nothing.
    2. “Roll away blue 12”, “Push back”, etc. have meaning.
  2. Less is More:
    1. Keep it simple, minimize downtime talking.
    2. If an offense is not material and needs to be addressed, do so if it is convenient, no need to be chasing after players.
    3. Many of your matches are being broadcast and it does not convey a professional approach if you continually engage in conversation/banter with players.
    4. Remain calm, speak clearly.
  3. Whistle/Signals
    1. You are communicating to the players, coaches, spectators.
    2. Clear whistle, verbally communicate, big single secondary.

Mike Cobb did a great communication video here:

Know that every referee has a unique style and your communication can even be more effective by being very specific. Use your words.

A question that is often asked is “How do you become a NP Referee?”. Ultimately the USARR Selection Committee is responsible for selecting the Panel. We have a group of experienced and dedicated selectors across the USA that make up this group: Ed Todd (Convener), Peter Watson, Fred Thomas, Kat Todd and Davey Ardrey. Assiting in the process of development, we have two Zone Managers, Mike Cobb (EAST – and Marc Nelson (WEST – Their responsibility is to provide resources and opportunities for development. They are not “gate keepers” to the NP, but part of the pathway.

We want to share with referees, who aspire to be NP Referees, to control what they can:

  1. Proactive involvement in the refereeing community
    1. Attend meetings.
    2. Support fellow referees.
    3. Be an ambassador for the game – network with referees, coaches, players. It raises your profile and support structure.
    4. Attend/participate in as many events/tournaments as possible.
    5. Be available and let everyone know you’re available (Don’t sit and wait for an email/call)
  1. Grade
    1. B Panel / Territorial (
    2. Referees can register, free of charge in the TGAME System where reports are recorded (
    3. If you feel you are not being seen or getting support, get a match video, create a YouTube page. The Zone Managers can assist with getting your video to PR’s.
  1. Certifications (
    1. L1 and L2 courses completed (L3 is offered by USARR to NP Referees).
    2. CMO1 Course (required once you are a NP Referee only, but sets a good foundation).
    3. Touch Judge and Assistant Referee Certified (Online).
  1. Laws
    1. Be a scholar of the game, know your Laws & Interpretations.
    2. USA Rugby Referees Facebook page is an active group that discusses a wide array of Laws & Interpretations.
  1. Fitness
    1. Criterion is a 11.0 on the Multi Stage Fitness Test (beep test) to be considered for USA Rugby NCS appointments.
    2. Criterion is a 12.0 on the Multi Stage Fitness Test (beep test) to be considered for USA Rugby Referees NP Appointment.
    3. Criterion is a 13.0 on the Multi Stage Fitness Test (beep test) to be considered for International Appointments.
  1. Presentation
    1. How you present yourself, communication and body language, is vital in establishing credibility and trust.
    2. Signals & Whistle tone should be perfected. If you have a mirror, practice. Learn to blow your whistle properly.
    3. Self-perception should be explored. How we perceive ourselves is often not how others perceive us. It can make a huge difference if you can establish an honest approach here. Ask your peers for assistance, study video of NP referees and of yourself and compare how you are presenting yourself on the field, how you communicate, and is your body language, whistle tone and signaling exceptional? Do you run well – yes, you can be coached to run like an athlete. Another way to consider presentation is if you had a non–rugby person see you referee a game, they should think that the referee looks great. Sell yourself – if you get this right it creates an amazing foundation for being a successful referee and achieving your goals.

Categories: General