Assistant Referee Role

July 24 2012



Initially set 5 metre off-side line for backline, and then move focus to the scrum.

Advise referee of any behaviour that contravenes Law. Concentrate on front row engagement and then subsequent behaviour of props, before observing if loose forwards are 'bound'.


Arrive promptly at mark with flag held high, in order to assist your other AR, and the referee. Always watch the ball to confirm that it is "dead", and/or, if a quick throw-in is allowed.

Watch gap and advise if team is closing gap.

Take control of non-thrower and at all times, ensure this player is 2M x 2M away.

Please be prepared to rule on every lineout throw. The referee wants to make this your responsibility, so he can focus on the contest. But again, advise of the obvious ones - clearly outside the channel.


Give regular feedback, as required, as to "trends" against one team or an actual infringement if it is missed by the referee.

Observe and enforce off-side lines. Ensure that you are in position to observe. Avoid "frail" positions. Remember – "Lead" v "Trail" options.


Quickly mark 10M, and observe defenders.


For Super Rugby (with a camera in each corner), it is not imperative that you get into In Goal, so position yourself in field of play to observe touch / touch in goal. If you are running, it's best to STOP, approximately 5M out from the goal-line, to ensure a stable platform for you to observe and decide from. For Club rugby getting into In-goal earlier is an option – this has play coming towards you...


When foul play occurs, "slow down" your processing as much as possible, and "buy time". All 3 MO"s should take some time, and consider the next steps.

Keep your report very factual and aim to build a picture for the referee of what you saw. From what you say, the referee will re-phrase to you what he is "reading" from your report; e.g. "So, I'll restart with a penalty against number 4 and a yellow card?” You can then either agree or disagree. If you disagree strongly, you can talk him up or down; e.g. "No, I don't think that will be enough”, or "No, I think just a penalty will be enough”. Only do this if you feel very strongly, as the referee will wish to "read the game context & "temperature", when he responds to your inputs.

As an AR, please avoid using terms such as "Yellow card" or "Red card", unless you are asked for a recommendation.

Be CERTAIN you have the correct offending player, if you don't, then say so.

NEVER make it up you will be caught out!


Communication and timing of inputs is important, and any assistance that an AR can offer is beneficial for the Team. The key secondary calls could include:

  • Knock-ons
  • Forward passes; (generally a referee specific task)
  • Off-side in the midfield
  • Hands in the ruck on the blindside to the referee
  • Advice of "trends" at downtime, (e.g. pillars off-side v ball in/out)

The golden rule is to call only the 'clear & obvious'. Only call incidents that everyone else saw, except the referee!! If it is close, or you have to think twice about it, don't call it.


Every decision you make has to be CLEAR and OBVIOUS.

Be clear and concise with your information; some can be given at down times or if needed, immediately. Remember, the referee has a multitude of tasks to attend to, so it's important to "time your input".

Your title is: Assistant Referee, so ensure that you assist the team of three to obtain excellent outcomes for the team.

  • Must be 100% sure player is "out", to call him out
  • Grounding must be seen
  • Unless the player clearly loses possession = try
  • Paint a clear picture of what you saw at foul play
  • Talk the referee up or down at foul play, only where you have a very strong case
  • Secondary calls must be "clear and obvious" to everyone
  • Remember – Primary roles of Touch, Foul Play, Kicks at goal, are "core" functions – First thing first!!
  • It is up to the referee to act upon your AR advice. If he doesn't act, as advised – it doesn't mean that he doesn't want your input! Keep giving him appropriate and timely information.

Prepare - just don't turn up and expect to do a good job!!

If in doubt at any stage prior to fixture, ask the questions. All should be clear, when the whistle goes for kick-off. The onus is on you to be suitably briefed.

And finally, ENJOY; you have the second best seat in the house!