Confirmation of the match

You should expect to receive a phone call from the home club you have been appointed to 48 hours prior to the fixture.

The club will confirm the kick off time and shirt colours with you, as well as offering directions if you are unsure of how to get there, especially if the game is not being played at their home ground.

If you do not receive this call then you should try to contact the home club’s team contact, which is available from “Who’s the Ref”

If the club does not respond 24 hours prior to kick off, please advise the Appointment Secretaries using e-mail: or telephone: 01515 390432

Match cancelled or postponed

If, for any reason, you are unable to referee the match – game cancelled or postponed, you are injured or any other disaster, please advise the Appointment Secretaries using e-mail: or phone on 01515 390432

If the match is cancelled, please also inform, the Treasurer by e-mail, Please include when and the reason for the cancellation. A decision can then be made as to whether to charge the home club the match fee.

The Appointment secretary will advise you accordingly – appoint you to another fixture or say thank you, there are no other matches available, so enjoy your afternoon off!




Every Referee should have the following in their kit bag:

Dorset and Wilts reversable shirt – Orange & White

Dorset and Wilts Black shorts and a spare plain black pair

Warm up garments e.g. tracksuit

Clean boots

Black socks

Plastic bags for wet/dirty kit

2 whistles

2 watches – stop watch including countdown



Notebook or score card templates

At least 2 pen/pencils

Red/yellow cards – discipline forms and guidelines

Touch Judge flags

Shower kit

 Law Book – County Handbook.


Getting to the Match

Make sure you leave home with:

Directions to the club and clubhouse / club contact telephone numbers

Kitbag and all you need

A smart appearance preferably smart casuals if appropriate.

Enough time to get to the ground aim for arriving around 90 mins before kick-off.

The last point is important to help you reduce any pressure or stress you might be feeling in going into your first game.

When you arrive at the ground, ensure that someone from the home club knows you have arrived. The best people would be the Captain of the team or a Club Official. It is a good thing to ask where the referee’s changing room is.

If no changing room is available, then try not to change in the same dressing room as one of the teams you are refereeing. It can be an uncomfortable place to be after a match!


Pre-Match Routine

You should make yourself known to both captains or coaches if a youth game and get an agreement as to when you can inspect each team’s studs and do the coin toss. Ask the coaches/captains what they would prefer and go for that. Check the teams’ colours.

Ask the coaches/captains if either side have a physio or medical officer present? Speak to the Physio/medical officer on how treatment will be run during the game. 

Ensure you complete a warm up to get your body suitably prepared for the game ahead.

As part of your warm up, inspect the playing area paying particular attention to post protectors, correct placing of the flags, quality of line markings and ensuring debris is removed from the pitch especially animal fouling (It is the home teams responsibility to remove any animal waste.)

Think about your match, what do you want out of the game? What areas of your game do you need to concentrate on, the scrum or the line-out or offside etc.? Don’t try to pick lots of areas – this will probably confuse the issues!


The Stud Check and Team Talk 

When carrying out the stud check there are few things you should look for:

Check the studs on the boots of all players are safe making sure there are no sharp edges. Note boots designed to have a single stud at the front are legal, boots missing a front stud are not.

Ensure that no player is wearing any illegal body padding or rings – ask the captain – make it their responsibility.

This is your opportunity to start to build a rapport with the players without appearing too authoritative or acting like a comedian. After the stud check, ask to see the front row players from each team (including replacements) on how you expect the scrum to engage and be kept safe. (This is the legal minimum required for the team brief).

You may wish to also brief the scrum half and fly half. 

Team talks are quick and snappy. Players will not want you to spend ages with them dictating and narrating how you want everything to be.


The Toss 

This is best carried out in the changing room earlier before the teams meet for their final get together.

Make sure you have a coin with you!

This is the referee’s chance to get the captains onside and help with your management of the game from kick-off until the final whistle.

Here is a guide of what you could look to cover at the toss with the captains:

  • Is the captain the pack leader, if not ask who is.
  • Ensure the Coaches/Captains provide a Touch Judge to run the line. This can be very difficult in many games but if there are any available then try to speak to them to remind them of their duties.
  • Ask if the teams require a knock on the changing room doors. e.g. “I will knock with 5 mins to go, then at 2 minutes out we go”

Ask the home captain to toss the coin and the away captain may call.

The captain who wins the toss has the right to kick off OR choose end to receive – not both! Make a note of who is kicking off and which way. 


Going out onto the pitch

Now you have done your warm up exercises and given the teams the knocks on the changing room doors you are ready to head out onto the pitch.

The main thing is to RELAX and ENJOY the game. SMILE.

Check that each team has 15 players (if they have that many available!) Check with your touch judges (if present) that they are ready.

Check with both captains they and their teams are ready. Tell the team with kick off to stay behind their kicker.

Start your watches – Blow your whistle. AND YOU’RE AWAY, ENJOY!


The Match

  1. Keep time and score.
  2. Be decisive, consistent and fair. Act confidently. Be firm but friendly. Keep an accurate record of the score. Give yourself time, don’t be rushed into anything. Use Common Sense!
  3. Accurately record yellow cards so that you know when ten minutes playing time has elapsed. For yellow or red cards, you need full name, number and playing position, time and nature (description of) of offence, score at the time, nature of injury to (other) player. Use the red and yellow card protocol STLON
  • Score
  • Time
  • Location
  • Offence
  • Number(s) of player(s) involved
  1. Remember two yellows is a red.



Restoring peace and tranquility…

After the match you will be feeling all sorts of emotions. Make sure that once you have shaken hands with the players and thank TJs and medical support. You walk down the tunnel and return to the solace of your changing room and taking your well-earned shower.

Check the scores and update the match cards, if you have been given any before the match!

If you have the necessity to send a player off the field of play, ensure you make notes of the circumstances, the score and weather. Confirm the player’s name before you leave the club and contact the Society Discipline Officer as soon as possible within 48 hours.

Full details of the requirements following a red cards can be found on the website:

Or, Click Here to view discipline page.

NB If you send a player off, contact the Discipline Officer within twenty four hours to let them know a report is being written. Advise can be sort from the Discipline Officer, the hand book and the website. 

Be aware that you must report every case of ‘sending off’, i.e. Red card (you only need to report Yellow cards if the same player receives two in one match, necessitating a Red card 

The Bar 

As in all rugby clubs around the country, this is the place to be and to be seen after the match is over. Clubs usually offer at least ONE free drink to the referees but remember it is not compulsory You may also possibly be offered a meal

Sign the match cards if required. Ensure that the cards are sent to the Grading Secretary as soon as practical.

Take the opportunity to speak with the captains, coaches and players to find out what they thought about the game. Talk to the players, some of the best feedback you can get is from front row forwards and their opinions on how they thought you handled the scrum. Referees of all levels and ability do this on a Saturday to help improve their own performances.

However, Do not argue with players, coaches or officials. If issues can be resolved amicably and without major argument, then do so. Be calm and diplomatic at all times. Perhaps ‘agree to disagree’. 

If you had to Red card a player don’t be drawn into a discussion about it afterwards, even worse, do not express any opinion or state things like, ‘perhaps I got it wrong’. If pressed, state that ‘I’m sorry, but I’m not discussing it any further, my report will cover the facts’. If the sent-off player approaches you and apologises, accept it with thanks and incorporate what he said into the report.

When you leave, thank the home club captain/official for their hospitality.

Referee Developer 

You can expect at some point in your first few games to be watched by a Referee Developer. 

The referee developer is there for you and for your benefit. They will offer feedback on your game and check that you refereed the game in a safe manner and provide advice on what you may look to improve on next time you referee.

The referee developers should contact you prior to the game by either phone or email. On the day of the match they will introduce their self to you before the start of the match and then will catch up with you in a prearranged location to have a chat about the game. Make the most of the time you spend with an referee developer. They are all experienced refs who have been in the game sometime and have spent many weekends out refereeing.


At Home 

If you sent off any player, complete the discipline form see discipline page for details.

Never discuss anything with any reporter who may be present/telephone you. Contact the Chairman.

If you feel that you had a poor game (and we all do, at some point), don’t write off your refereeing career. Like players, referees need to get back on track for the next game. Talk it over with any of the following; other Society Officer (e.g. MOD, Hon. Sec., Chairman) or anybody else who’s opinions and judgement you respect and trust.

Record the Bob Stock Scores for the home club . This trophy is given by the Referees Society each season for the best scoring club in various categories. Please see the download score sheet below for guidance in how the categories should be scored.


Your scores should be sent to the Treasurer at regular intervals to the following email address

Your expenses can be claimed weekly although the preferred window is at the end of each month. The Treasurer pays claims once a week on a Sunday and claims should be submitted no later than 6pm on the Sunday. Claims including those for training are made using“Who’s the Ref(link to how to make a WTR claim stored in the docs area).

Safeguarding: Refereeing games of Under 19 age group and younger

Safeguarding the welfare of our young players is paramount. Coaches, referees and volunteers have a moral and possibly a legal responsibility to provide the highest possible standard of care when we welcome young people into the game of Rugby Union.

Child Safeguarding & DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service)

This used to be known as the CRB check. RFU advice is that referees are not ‘in regular’ contact with young persons and therefore do not need an RFU Criminal Records Bureau Disclosure Clearance. However, if you either Mentoring or training young referees, then you must complete RFU DBS check. Please contact the chairman who will guide you through the correct procedure.

The RFU/RFUW publish guidance on “Child and Young Player Protection Policy”. For “under 19” games common sense advice for referees is as follows:


Change in the same room as a youth team

Shower with a youth team

Allow a child/youth into your changing room without another adult being present

Check boots etc. in the changing room without another adult being present

Administer first aid unless properly trained.


Challenge anyone taking a child and it appears that the child does not want to go

Report any incident to the Society Secretary if you become concerned over the way any child is being treated by a coach, parent or other person

Remember that your overriding thought must be for the protection of the child.

Dorset and Wilts RFU Referees Contact details

All Referees contact details are available on “Who’s the Ref” under contacts. Some useful contacts are listed below:

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