Becoming a referee
Match officials for Aviva Premiership Rugby are selected from the RFU’s Professional Referee Unit (PRU). The PRU consists of 15 referees and 13 assistant referee and represents the cream of English officials. For each match, four officials (1 referee, 2 assistant referees and a reserve official) are selected by the PRU management team of Ed Morrison, Brian Campsall and Tony Spreadbury. They are joined by a timekeeper and for televised matches a Television Match Official.
The referees in the PRU have worked their way through the refereeing ranks from Society/Federation level, through the regional groups and onto the National Panel of Referees. Their progression through each level is based upon passing a series of exams, their performance at each game measured by a referee assessor and fitness levels.
The assistant referees are a mixture of former PRU referees and assistant referees who have progressed through the AR ranks in the same way as the referees.
Interpreting the referee
There are over 40 different arm signals that can be used by the referee. Here are the main ones:
The referee raises his arm above his head and points to the spot where the ball has been grounded while standing with his back to the dead ball line.
The referee will clearly raise his arm in the air, pointing towards the side who have been given the penalty.
The referee will raise his arm, bending it square at the elbow. The arm will be pointing towards the team who have been given the free-kick.
The referee will cross both his arms across his chest, like a pair of open scissors.
The referee will move his hands in front of his body. Then he will pretend to pass an imaginary ball forwards.
The referee will raise his arm at head level, with the palm of the hand open, tapping his palm with the other.
The referee will raise his arm across his neck, with the palm of the hand open.
Killing the ball
The referee will point his arm downwards and move it up and down.
Not releasing the ball
The referee will bring both arms close into his chest as if he’s holding an imaginary ball.
Hands in the ruck
The referee will bend forwards and lower his arm towards the ground and then move his arm back and forwards, as if he has handled an imaginary ball on the ground.
The referee will raise one hand above his head with his shoulders in line with touch. He will then move that arm backwards and forwards.
The referee will raise one leg, bending it at the knee. He will then move it up and down, pretending to stamp on an imaginary ball.
The referee will cross his arms above his head to indicate a player has a bleeding injury and may be temporarily replaced.
The referee will have his arm outstretched, waist high, towards the non-offending team, for a period of approximately five seconds.
Award of a scrum
With his shoulders parallel to the with touch-line the referee will have his arm held horizontally pointing towards team to put in the ball.