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Becoming a Referee

Referee Bryce Lawrence talks to Lions captain Paul O'Connell during the First Test match against South Africa in 2009

Why Referee?

There are a whole host of reasons why you might take up the whistle: to remain active in the sport following injury or retirement, to make new and lasting friends within the game, or to gain a sense of achievement by providing an invaluable service to players, coaches and spectators alike.

Whatever the reason, refereeing is challenging, rewarding and above all, can be great fun.

Getting Started

As a new referee, you are advised to undertake the Entry Level Referee Award (ELRA), a three-stage award which will provide you with the key tools to referee competently.

If you choose to join a regional referees society, then you will be required to complete all three stages of the ELRA. If you wish to remain within your own school, club or university, then you need only complete stages one and two. These cover the following aspects of refereeing:

  • Management and control
  • Problem solving
  • Refereeing the key phases of the game
  • Positioning and communication
  • Laws of the game

Stages one and two focus on practical learning, giving you the opportunity to observe refereeing in practice and build confidence in your own skills on the field of play.

A calendar is available with details of ELRA courses running near you (PDF 78kB).

What Next?

If you wish to develop further as a referee once you have completed ELRA stages one and two, your local referees society is on hand to help.

Becoming a member of one of the 40 referees societies means you will be appointed to a wide variety of games and have access to ongoing training, support and development opportunities.

You will then be able to progress as far as your abilities and ambition allow. For information on joining, please contact your local Referee Society (PDF 362kB).

The RFU Refereeing Pathway diagram (PDF 269kB) is a useful document to show potential progress of referees through the ranks.