New Referees

How to get involved in officiating

 Saracens v Gloucester Rugby - Aviva Premiership

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.

It’s easy to become a referee and start refereeing!

The first step is to attend one of the two courses listed below, and you’re on your way. The minimum age to become a rugby union referee is 14.

If you wish to start refereeing U8 to U13…

You need to attend the Old Mutual Wealth Kids First Refereeing Children course. This course is designed to provide new referees with the core skills to be able to referee rugby union safely and confidently. It takes 3 hours and is a mixture of practical and classroom-based activities.

If you wish to start refereeing U14 and above…

You need to attend a course called the England Rugby Refereeing Award. This course is for new and developing referees wanting to referee the 15-a-side game and will equip delegates with the skills and confidence to do so effectively.  It is a 2-day course and is a mixture of practical, classroom and online learning activities.

Young Match Official Programme

England Rugby has launched a Young Match official (YMO) programme to encourage more young people aged 14-24 to get into rugby officiating. The programme’s ambition is to attract, train and retain 400 new young officiators to the game as part of England Rugby’s long-term legacy commitment. Click HERE for a guide to developing Young Match Officials.




When, aged 15, I blew my whistle for the first time I had no idea where refereeing would take me. To date it has not only taken me to five continents, to over 30 countries and to the southern hemisphere on more than 20 occasions, but refereeing has also allowed me to develop skills and understanding that no other job or hobby could have done.

Imagine the strength of character it takes to have 80,000 people screaming at you to make a decision in favour of the home team but having to make a decision that you know we will be unpopular.

Imagine the poise it takes to stand between two players, twice your age, twice your size and attempt to calm a volatile situation.

Imagine how your decision making under pressure will improve as you realise that one small loss of concentration could cost a team league points, a cup final victory or even relegation.

Refereeing offers all of these challenges and many more, but it also gives you the best seat in the house. Whether you are in the middle of an Under 9 game at your school or a full house at Twickenham, no-one is closer to the action than you!

Why not give it a go? Who knows where refereeing will take you?


What next?

If you need further advice on how to start refereeing or choosing an appropriate course, please contact a member of the RFU Match Official Development and Area Training Team.

However, if you are ready to get going, go to the RFU online course booking system, which allows you to search by course type, region, postcode or date before booking and paying for your course.