What does it take to be a top flight rugby referee?

What does it take to be a top flight rugby referee? In the video below you’ll see how top referees train for their games, so they’re able to run 7 to 10k per game. “And you also need to be robust”, says RFU referee JP Doyle. “Be able to go week after week after week. And be able to tolerate the training loads as well.

Top flight rugby referee lifting weights.

 Proud of how fit you look

And pride to look fit is also important. “You wanna look like you’re fit out there. These guys are so big and massive. They’re in their young twenties and the best shape of their life. You have a personal sense of pride that you want to look fit.”

Analysing games as top flight rugby referee

The video also will give you an idea of how top flight rugby referees analyse their strenghts and weaknesses. “We all have different strenghts and weeknesses”, says RFU referee Luke Pearce. “We need to work on those weaknesses and advance in those things that we’re very good at.”

And then he says something important: “And share them with other members of the group”. It shows that your road to the top as referee is not a route you have to take on your own. But it’s a route where you need others to improve. Other referees can help you and tell you how to deal with certain situations.

Homework excercise

For example, take a look at the homework excercise I wrote last month, which is about about the strenghts and weaknesses: “Get a paper sheet and write down your strenghts and skills that you can improve in these categories (and others). In the latter you’ll see things you can improve (and set goals for). Have no clue? Check your recent assessments for positives and negatives.”

Please review your games every weekend and write a few positives and negatives on a sheet of paper for yourself. They’ll help you see a pattern and that will make you be able to reach your goals and improve as a referee.

Week 25 of Laws of the Game Quiz

It’s an anniversary: quiz number 25 is a fact. Thanks for being part of the quiz participants. This week I have lots of questions about the corner kick and also a reader question about a goal kick. If you have any questions you don’t know the answer off, feel free to send me an e-mail on jan@dutchreferee.com

Terms and conditions

Please find the Terms and Conditions plus links to previous quizzes on the Quiz Page.

Referee training course in Malaga (photo series)

A nice photo series from the referee training course in Malaga. I’m very happy Uefa gave me permission to show these pictures, made by Sportsfile, on my blog. They will give you an idea what referees do during a winter course.

Physical training

All referees will have to do some physical training sessions and have to pass the FIFA fitness test.

Male referees doing a sprint session in the referee winter course in Malaga

Femele referees doing a sprint session during referee training course in Malaga


Classroom sessions during referee training course in Malaga

Lots of classroom sessions during the training camp in Malaga, which helps the referees improve on the pitch. With top class speakers like Pierluigi Collina, Hugh Dallas, but also a Laws of the Game test.

Classroom session with referees


Laws of the Game test
Laws of the Game test

Medical check-up

You need top be topfit as referee. That’s why you need a medical check-up and a visuel check at the winter course.

Medical test for referees

Visual check-up for referees

Week 24 Laws of the Game Quiz

I digged a little deeper into the penalty kicks this week. 5 questions about the penalty kick taken during a match, not in a shootout. Do you know how to handle? Good luck!

Terms and conditions

Please find the Terms and Conditions plus links to previous quizzes on the Quiz Page.

Lee Markwick: referee and mentor in the UK

Lee Markwick followed the referee course when his son signed up for it. “As his dedicated taxi, I started to develop an interest in officiating”, he says in an interview with Dutch Referee Blog. Le Markwick (54) is a level 4 referee and he started officiating in 2011.

Lee Markwick quote

Please tell a bit more about how you got involved in refereeing?

Lee Markwick: “Two reasons

  1. At the age of 14 my son Dean stopped playing football and decided to take his referees’ course. As his dedicated taxi, I started to develop an interest in officiating. It was his learning and development that gave me the inspiration to also take up refereeing
  2. Having played and having a love of football I still wanted to be involved in the game”

Refereeing on Saturday, mentoring on Sunday

Where do you officiate and what does your refereeing weekend usually look like?

Lee Markwick: “I officiate on the South Midlands pool in the UK. I dedicate my whole Saturday to officiate and will often go and mentor a referee on a Sunday.”

Do you go to a referee association or train for yourself? How do you improve as a referee?

Lee Markwick: “I belong to an Association. I improve by watching, observing and talking to other referees, coach’s and observers. Self-reflection is a big part of my development and I take time to read articles on refereeing, fitness and mental strength and attitude.”

2017 has just started. What are your refereeing goals for next year? And how are you going to achieve them?

Lee Markwick: “I hope to achieve level 3 status by staying fit, working hard and taking on board all the advice I receive from the observers.”

Lee Markwick’s tips that will make you a better referee  

  1. Believe in yourself, be confident and be prepared to not always get it right
  2. Keep fit, look after yourself and learn the laws
  3. Smile, it’s only a game

Week 23 Laws of the Game Quiz

The start of February. I will announce January’s winner shortly via a personal message. Want to get the chance to win a goodie from Refsworld UK, the sponsor of this blog, make sure you’ll get all answers right in February. Good luck!

Terms and conditions

Please find the Terms and Conditions plus links to previous quizzes on the Quiz Page.

DOGSO by pulling is still red (case study)

DOGSO by pulling the opponent’s shirt? That’s still a red card when it happens in the box.

Watch the match situation in the last minute of FC Twente – Cambuur in the Eredivisie.

Match situation
A FC Twente winger swings the ball into the box from the left.

Now think about the following question: What criteria do you need to look at if the defender is denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity?

DOGSO by pulling: swinging the ball in

The ball passes the first defender and is about to reach striker Luc Castaignos, but he is not able to play the ball. If you have a closer look, you will see defender Jamiro Monteiro is pulling his shirt.

DOGSO by pulling: the offence

As you can see: the referee’s view is not obstructed. He has a clear view on the situation.

DOGSO by pulling or not?

Does the attacker have a clear shot at goal when he would not be fouled? I’d answer this question with yes here.

Coming back at the question I ask earlier on in the post. Did you know the criteria you need to look at if the defender is denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity? The following must be considered:
distance between the offence and the goal. The defender pulls the shirt about 13-14 metres from the goal. A place from where you can score.
general direction of the play. The player is moving towards the goal.
likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball. The ball is coming via the ground, so is easy to control
location and number of defenders. There are four defenders and a goalie in the penalty area, but the attacker is closest to the goal.

Disciplinary action

The rules have been changed in 2016-2017, especially for DOGSO situations. But the Laws of the Game (page 89) are clear. “Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned unless” – and here it comes – “the offence is holding, pulling or pushing.”

That means sending the defender off is the correct decision.