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Guitar and piano student, rugby fanatic, INTJ

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.

USA Rugby Focus Areas for 2015

From MIKE COBB | Referee Technical Director | USA Rugby:

This is going out to all Eastern Zone LRO and TRO administrators.

I have posted a new video up on Vimeo (and it will be on the USA website, on the referee resources page by tomorrow) that is called the USA Rugby focus areas for 2015. This video covers most aspects of the match and is how the National Panel referees will be expected to referee these aspects of the match. We want this information to get out to all referees so everyone is on the same page, and all clubs so they know what to expect from the referees (all referees, at all levels).

Here is the link to the video:

Clarification of Assistant Referees and Touch Judges

From Richard Every | High Performance Referee Manager | USA Rugby:

All USARR appointed referees will communicate to both team coaches, whether they will be using AR’s or TJ’s.


Officially appointed by USARR/Local Referee Organization
Dressed in official referee kit
Expected to perform the PRIMARY duties below
SECONDARY duties upon the referee’s request during the AR pre-match briefing
The responsibility of decisions rests with the referee

Touch, touch in-goal
Kicks at goal
Foul Play
Additional: Running Time, Sin Bin Time, The Score, Confirming Try / No Try, Offside lines at scrums and lineouts (defense), 10m at PK’s/FK’s, Correct mark of infringements

Rucks, Mauls, Lineouts, Scrums: AR should call players that start from an offside position – referee to determine whether the ball was out or set piece was over.
Kicks in General Play: Essential to maintain space and normally easier for the far side AR to identify and call
Forward Passes: Not that easy to call – has to be clear & obviously a forward pass
Trends / Issues: Bring to the referee’s attention during stoppages of play.

NOTE: It is not the duty of the AR to call breakdown infringements. AR’s are not to shout/talk to players during play.


TJ’s are not officially appointed and are representatives from each team
It is suggested to not use members of the public but a person of each team so that both teams are represented
It is preferable not to use a member of the team’s coaching staff
A TJ’s duties are not allowed to extend beyond what are outlined below
If you have a qualified referee that is not dressed in official referee kit, they may only act as a TJ, not an AR

Touch, touch in-goal
Kicks at goal

Lastly, we ask referees to be vigilant in addressing team coaches/members/substitutes verbally abusing AR’s or TJ’s. Please follow the same protocols as outlined in the USARR GMG 2015 regarding REFEREE ABUSE.

Spirit of the Laws and the Sidelines


From: Richard Every HPRM []
Sent: Thursday, October 9, 2014 9:51 AM


We need to take a step forward, as we grow the game in the USA, to ensure that we stand together and work together and are respectful to each other.

The Law book states:
“Rugby owes much of its appeal to the fact that it is played both to the letter and within the Spirit of the Laws. The responsibility for ensuring that this happens lies not with one individual – it involves coaches, captains, players and referees.

It is through discipline, control and mutual respect that the Spirit of the Game flourishes and, in the context of a Game as physically challenging as Rugby, these are the qualities which forge the fellowship and sense of fair play so essential to the Game’s ongoing success and survival.”

We are all passionate about the game and at times we are emotional, but we have a responsibility to the game and each other to be respectful and control our behavior.

Regarding verbally abusive behavior from coaches, team staff or team substitutes towards the match officials and/or to their players or opposition players, USA Rugby Referees will, with immediate effect, be applying the following:
The referee will ask the identified person to refrain from this behavior ONCE,
On the second occasion the referee will EJECT the person from the grounds;
Zero tolerance approach will be applied.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact the Referee Department.

NOTE: Team coaches have an avenue to communicate with USA Rugby Referees Department, confidentially, by completing this form:

2014 Law Changes

[Source: Harry Laws <>; Sun, Jul 13, 2014 12:21:00 AM]

There are seemingly a large number of changes that came out of the Council Meeting in May, but in reality the vast majority is either a revision for clarity or changing last fall’s Global Trial Laws to permanent status.  There are a few substantive changes – they are highlighted.  The Laws as posted on include all these changes and I urge referees and coaches to actually read them.

Law 3 – Number of Players

  • The IRB has gone to eight substitutes for International teams.  USA has been at eight for a while.
  • The use of up to five substitutes in 7s was accepted into full Law.
  • All sections concerning front row number, replacements, etc. are now gathered into one section (3.5).
  • The definition of a “blood injury” requiring temporary replacement has changed.  The old wording was “open or bleeding wound”.  The new wording is “uncontrolled active bleeding”.  The codifies what has been practiced by many – allowing minor blood repairs to be done on the pitch, if that is possible within the injury minute.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.
  • Temporary replacement for pitch side concussion assessment continues to be trialed in competitions selected by the IRB.  THIS IS NOT TO BE IMPLEMENTED AT ANY LEVEL IN THE USA AT THIS TIME.

Law 4 – Players’ Clothing

  • Tights have been confirmed as legal for female players.
  • The Trial rescinding the ban on single studs at the toe of boots has demonstrated that they are no more dangerous than other patterns and therefore single studs are no longer banned.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.
  • The wearing of a GPS is still at the Global Trial stage (and has not been authorized in the US).

Law 6 – Match Officials

  • Persons entering and leaving the playing area has been re-written for clarity.  Water carriers are only allowed onto the pitch during injury stoppages.  This is labeled as a substantive change, but really it is just recognition of existing practice.
  • Expanded use of the TMO is still at the Global Trial stage.

Law 8 – Advantage

  • The section addressing more than one infringement has been re-written for clarity.

Law 9 – Method of Scoring

  • There is now a specific statement that conversion kicks must be taken from the field-of-play.  [This was always true – you just had to dig around to prove it.]
  • The use of kicking tees was clarified and the “placer” was explained.
  • The time for a conversion kick (90 seconds from the time of the try) was confirmed as Law.

Law 11 – Offside

  • This change finally fixes an editing error that snuck in during the re-write in 2000.  When a player is offside in general play, the non-offending team has the option of a scrum where the ball was last played.  This was hidden in 11.4 for the past fourteen years.  Now it is right up front.
  • When a player is offside under the ten meter Law, while retiring they may not obstruct an opponent (current) or interfere with play (new addition).

Law 12 – Knock-on or Throw-forward

  • The options available for a knock that goes into touch have been confirmed.  A team that takes a quick throw-in has exercised its option.

Law 13 – Kick-off and Restart Kicks

  • Added a provision to cover the case where a kick-off goes into the kicking team’s in-goal.

Law 16 – Ruck

  • The five seconds to play the ball once it is available was confirmed.

Law 17 – Maul

  • When a maul goes to ground (without infringement) it is either unplayable (turnover) or the ball is available.  If the ball is available, there are five seconds in which to play it.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.

Law 19 – Touch and Lineout

  • Where a quick throw-in may be taken was confirmed.
  • The requirements for a quick throw-in were rewritten for clarity.
  • If a quick throw is taken in front of the line-of-touch options are offered.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE.
  • Scrum or lineout option from a knock-on into touch was confirmed.
  • Where the receiver must stand was clarified.
  • “Sacking” the catcher was clarified as must happen prior to the formation of a maul-at-lineout.

Law 20 – Scrum

  • Front rows may not pull their opponents.
  • Current engagement process (crouch, bind, set) is still considered a Trial.

Law 21 – Penalty and Free Kicks

  • Quickly taken PK and FK that are taken at the wrong place will be taken again.  SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE that in reality recognizes and codifies current practice.  NOTE:  This does not relieve the kicker from having to kick the ball properly.
  • If a team is awarded a PK or a FK at a lineout, they may choose to have another lineout (or a scrum) in lieu of the kick.  This confirms the Global Trial from last fall.
  • If a team chooses a lineout in lieu of a Free Kick, they cannot score a drop goal until after an opponent has played or touched the ball, or tackled the ball carrier.  Confirms Global Trial.


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