Pre-Match/Post Match Protocol and Referee Abuse

We each have developed a pre-match/post match routine but consider what Richard Every, USA’s High Performance Referee Manager, recently posted for pre and post match interactions with teams and coaches.

1. When the referee arrives at the grounds they will introduce themselves to team coach and ask the coach when it would be best to do the kit check and pre-match briefing. This should happen before the team warms up and not just before the game starts.

2. The pre-match briefing has to include the following:

  • Scrum engagement protocol with all front row players
  • Scrum put in protocol with all scrum halves

3. During the match the referee should not engage with team coaches and vice versa, unless the referee has to apply the REFEREE ABUSE protocol (see below).

4. At half time a team coach may not approach the referee or engage with the referee. This option is left open to the team’s captain if they choose to do so. If a team coach does approach you, you will ask them once to leave and that you will discuss matters after the game. If the team coach chooses to ignore this request then please follow the REFEREE ABUSE protocol (see below).

5. After the match, a 20 minute “cooling off” period is preferable before discussing the game with team coaches. This discussion should be constructive and not merely to vent.

REFEREE ABUSE – as accepted policy by the RUGBY COMMITTEE in Chicago, January, 2015

Verbal abuse by team coaches, team staff or team substitutes directed at match officials or players should not be tolerated and the following process should be followed:

  • The referee will ask the identified person to refrain from their behavior.
  • On the second occasion the referee will EJECT the person from the grounds.
  • Zero tolerance approach should be applied and if the person refuses to leave the referee should request that team’s captain to assist.
    Failing compliance the referee may abandon the match.
  • NOTE: The referee must restart the game according to the latest stoppage and must NOT award a penalty due to the sideline behavior.

Every also posted this clip from South Africa TV on referee abuse. The first 3 minutes + are on point. Age old universal problem, true, but what can be done to reign in if not stop the pattern. Rugby Oregon has tackled this head on with “Culture Keepers” on their sidelines to promote respectful behavior toward referees and match participants.

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