Leinster Match Program – Article 11

March 8, 2016 in Match Program

With the Six Nations in full swing, we are delighted to see Donal Courtney heavily involved in the assessing of match officials. Donal recently attended the Metro area meeting and gave a great insight into his role with World Rugby. Helen O’Reilly will referee Scotland v France in the Womens Six Nations next weekend.

The Leinster Schools Senior cup moved into the quarter final stages last week. Congratulations to Dermot Blake (twice), Brian MacNeice, Cillian Hogan and Gary Glennon on their appointments to the four games. The cup now moves into the semi-final phase. The Schools Junior Cup quarter final fixtures will be played next week and appointments for those games will be made in due course. We have been delighted with the officiating in both competitions and have received great feedback. Obviously the new 4G pitch in Donnybrook has helped a great deal.

Area Meetings

This season sees a continued rise in attendances at area meetings, thanks to the hard work of the area representatives. This month we were looking at the tackle / ruck area and positioning of the referee. Tackle/ruck is the 2nd most observed phase of a game for a referee during a game. There are probably 600 things or more to observe in 80 minutes of rugby. At least 30% of this happens at a tackle or ruck with over 150 tackles / rucks per game.  Within the tackle /ruck there is a lot to observe such as tacklers releasing tackled players, players arriving on their feet, ball carrier making the ball available, players arriving through the gate and so on. The list in endless and correct knowledge of what to look for and positioning can help and awful lot here. Communication is also very important here. If you are listening to ref link during the match you can observer how a referee positions himself but also what he says – clear and concise. We are trying to get consistency across the board through these session, so that all referees are approaching the game consistently.


The safety or players is paramount and the referee has an important role to play in helping to ensure that player welfare is always at the heart of the game. The protocols for referees are outlined in the video and download the IRFU Concussion Guidelines for Referees document which is available on the Leinster Referees and IRFU websites. It is an excellent resource and well worth looking at.

Who would be a ref?

Who would be a Ref? The familiar cry in virtually all team sports has been heard in rugby circles down through the years but in some ways rugby is becoming one of the most attractive sports to referee in the world of sports.

At the dawn of professionalism the IRB recognised pretty quickly that for the game to move forward with these seismic changes referees would have to move forward with the times. Professional referees were needed and the various unions set about establishing National and international panels of referees. Today the IRFU has one of the strongest panels of the leading unions.

Many followers of other sports will often refer with envy to the respect referees receive on the field of play, the general lack of back chat, the respect afforded and the strong punishment handed down for players who don’t control themselves on the pitch. Throw in a professional contract and the opportunity to travel far and wide and you surely would have had huge numbers lining up to take up the whistle.

Well, not exactly. Refereeing numbers in Ireland are still dangerously low today and the IRFU are constantly looking more clubs to actively promote refereeing as a viable option among club members. They are also looking to introduce a younger age group to the benefits of refereeing on the international stage.

How does the process work once someone signs up?

  1. Sign up to a recruitment course: The IRFU and Leister run a number of courses a year in each province and advertise these in match programmes and on the Irish rugby website. The day long courses introduce perspective referees to the basics of refereeing.
  2. Become a trial member  and attend one of a series of workshops in your province. Perspective Referees receive a trial pass and start to referee each week where they will be assessed.
  3. After graduating from the trial panel and attending a wide range of courses, the new member will join the Level 1 and Level 2 panels, which is for referees with medium to long term potential where they will referee up to Junior League level. They will also attend a number of coaching workshops.
  4. The next step is Level 3 where the referee has been identified as having potential for the National panel. here they will referee Junior 1 games and attend a number of workshops.
  5. The next step is to be put onto the IPAS (Inter Provincial Assessment Panel) panel (level 4). This is where you referee outside your province and are assessed by members of the other associations or society as it is known in Ulster. The IPAS system means the whole country has a similar type of scoring system and is proving to be an efficient away to assessing referees who are looking to get onto the National Panel
  6. Once you pass through IPAS you are now fully qualified to referee on the National B panel and can referee at Junior, Ulster Bank League Division 2 and 3 and a range of under age inter provincials.
  7. The next step is to become an National A panel referee. There are currently 17 referees in this position and they can referee matches up to Ulster Bank League Division 1A and B and touch judge in the Guinness Pro 12 League before hopefully graduating to the contracted panel of 15 referees. Here they will referee Ulster Bank League, Guinness, Challenge and Champions Cup games plus a range of Internationals from under age to full.
  8. The final step is to become an international referee.

Have you got what it takes? The Leinster Referees always need more referees and opting to become one may be the best decision you’ve made for a long time. Feel free to make contact with the Leinster Rugby Referees at denis.collins@leinsterrugby.ie or contact by phone Denis Collins at 01-2235107 or David O’Brien at david.obrien@irfu.ie

If you are interested in becoming a referee get in contact with us through our Facebook and Google + pages, our website www.arlb.ie or through twitter @leinsterreferee.