RFU invests in referee development scheme

  • RFU invests in referee development pilot scheme 
  • The scheme focuses on training, development and recruitment 

The RFU has invested £120,000 in a pilot scheme designed to increase the number and quality of match officials. 

Ten referee societies will take part in the scheme this season which will see match officials take part in a coordinated RFU training and development programme.

The pilot scheme is a direct result of The Match Officials’ Challenge report, published in 2015, which set out a vision for every 15-a-side game from U14 upwards to be officiated by a trained and qualified referee.

The report pointed out that, given the predicted increase in playing numbers over the next few years, recruitment and retention of match officials would continue to be a critical part of referee societies’ activities and would need support from the entire rugby family.

The societies who have agreed to take part in the pilot are: Bristol, Dorset & Wiltshire, Kent, Warwickshire, Liverpool & District, Manchester & District, North Midlands, Northumberland, RAF and Suffolk and North Essex. 


“The programme will provide financial support for the training, development and recruitment of referees within the ten societies while establishing measureable outcomes that can be evaluated at the end of the season," said Michael Patz, RFU match official development manager.

"The hope is that the programme will not only strengthen the quality of referees across the game but also provide consistency; ensuring referees champion and demonstrate the quality of grassroots rugby in this country.”  


The ten referee societies involved in the pilot programme will be measured on the following outcomes;

  • Increase in the number of society match officials engaging in training & development
  • Increases in the number of matches officiated by society officials 
  • Improvements in the grading / performance reviews of society officials
  • Increases in the number of people becoming society referees 

From a long term perspective it is anticipated that direct RFU funding of the training and development programme will lead to a reduction in fees charged to clubs for the provision of referees.

To hear the stories of some newly qualified referees click here and find out how you can get involved here.