Return To Rugby – The Society’s Position

  • September 1, 2020

Manchester & District Rugby Union Referees’ Society Ltd.

Founded 1902

1st September 2020


Return to Rugby – The Society’s Position                   

Regular readers of the Society website (which, of course, means all of us) will be aware of the RFU Return to Community Rugby Roadmap (Return to Rugby Roadmap – Aug 2020) and will know that we are currently at Stage C. The Roadmap extends as far as Stage F, so we are only part of the way along the journey.

Stage C permits the playing, within a Club, of Ready4Rugby – a modified, non-contact 10-a-side version of the Game, (Ready 4 Rugby) which we would expect Clubs to referee internally. See also the guidance for Match Officials (Stage C – MO Guidance) which is still applicable.

Stage D of the Roadmap envisages this version of the Game being played on an inter-Club basis and Clubs may think it then appropriate to that neutral Referees should be involved.

Please refer to Stage D Contact Guide which lists other useful documentation,  together with the shorter document Stage D – Adapted Contact Rugby Activity

We have organised group training opportunities for Referees at Lymm (Mondays 7pm to 8.30pm); Preston Grasshoppers (Wednesdays 7pm to 8.30pm); Bury (Fridays 7pm to 8.30pm and so that our members can, within the RFU guidelines for training for Clubs (Restarting Competitive Rugby) train together in readiness for the resumption of refereeing.  All members are very welcome to join in.

Discussions have been held with members of the Appointments Team and the Society Executive about how the Society should respond to the beginning of the return of inter-Club rugby.  We have sought to strike a balance between facilitating the resumption of the playing of the Game and the interests of the Society and its members, particularly with regard to safety and welfare.  We have concluded that the Society should not appoint to matches for the time being.

We think that it would not be appropriate for the Society to appoint referees because we are not in a position to establish that it would be safe for the Referee.  We don’t have the resources or the skills to make such judgements, neither do we think it is reasonable to accept responsibility for such appointments.  We would not wish a Referee who was appointed by the Society to feel any obligation or pressure to undertake a match in such circumstances.

On the other hand, we do recognise that some of our members are keen to get back in to refereeing action, on whatever basis is permitted under RFU guidance and local lockdown provisions, and that Clubs and their members will enjoy their rugby activity more if it is refereed properly.  The Rugby Football Referees Union has advised that refereeing should be on an entirely optional basis on the part of the match official, ensuring strict adherence to the safety guidance that has been agreed with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (and any local restrictions) as it applies at the time.

Bearing all these factors in mind we concluded that we should relax our normal prohibition of Clubs approaching Referees direct, in the unprecedented circumstances which apply, until there is a resumption of normal rugby activity.

Consequently, until further notice, Referees are can offer their services to Clubs; and Clubs can approach Society Referees to referee matches, on the following basis:

  • Clubs can invite Society Referees to referee intra-Club or inter-Club matches
  •  The match or session must be organised strictly in accordance with RFU guidance and in compliance with any local restrictions which apply in the area
  • The Club must satisfy the Referee as to the safety arrangements and other precautions which will apply, and must ensure that these arrangements and precautions are observed
  • The Referee understands that it is his/her personal responsibility to satisfy him/herself as above and that it is entirely his/her decision as to whether to accept the invitation (In the case of a Young Match Official it will be the responsibility of a parent or guardian)

It has been established with the RFU that activity undertaken in accordance with the Return to Community Rugby Roadmap is covered by RFU liability insurance, as it applies to Club matches generally.

The Society Executive will keep the situation under review.  Watch the website for further news.  In the meantime, stay safe and prepare for a Return to Rugby.

Paul Houston

Hon Secretary