Category: General

Pitch Side Concussion Assessment – PSCA NOT USED IN THE USA


From Richard Every | High Performance Referee Manager | USA Rugby

We have received a lot of questions regarding PSCA:
LAW AMENDMENT TRIAL: Temporary replacement – head injury assessment.
PSCA is a global trial in Elite Rugby (Professional) only. They have qualified staff, but as seen this past weekend it is still in the development process:

This AMENDMENT TRIAL does NOT apply in the USA in any rugby.

Referees are to always insure that safety is always a priority as Law 3.9 states:

3.9 The referee’s power to stop an injured player from continuing
If the referee decides – with or without the advice of a doctor or other medically qualified person – that a player is so injured that the player should stop playing, the referee may order that player to leave the playing area. The referee may also order an injured player to leave the field in order to be medically examined.

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: