Become a Referee

I want to be a MAD (Manchester and District!) ref

That’s great to hear as the game really needs you. It may be a little worn, but the cliché “that without a referee there is no game” is obviously true.

Refereeing is challenging, but potentially very rewarding in terms of realising a sense of achievement and developing/enhancing skills that are also valuable in day-to-day life. Above all, refereeing, and thereby helping thirty plus people enjoy their sport, can be great fun. Being enthusiastically clapped-off by both teams at the end of the game can be very uplifting.

We, the Manchester and District Rugby Union Referees’ Society (M&DRURS or “the Society”) will extend a very warm welcome to you and offer you support, whether you are starting out as a novice referee, have refereed at your local club or are highly experienced and qualified and, perhaps, have recently moved to the area.

We appoint referees and assistant referees to 100 clubs, universities, colleges and schools for men’s, women’s and junior matches. In addition to the traditional Saturday fixtures, there are also usually numerous games on Sundays and in mid-week.

Our referees took up the whistle for a whole range of reasons, including wanting to remain active in the game after playing, to have an incentive to keep fit, to aspire to reach the top level or simply to give something back by providing an invaluable service to players, coaches and spectators alike.

There is a place in the Society for referees of all abilities and ambition levels; fortunately, not everyone wants or will be able to reach the International Panel!

Most of our referees officiate at the so-called lower levels and are very happy doing so. They provide a sterling service, which is often more openly appreciated by the teams involved than those at the higher levels.


I’m a novice referee and would like to become a Society referee – what should I do next?

Provided you are aged over 14 we would be very keen to hear from you.

We ask that, if you are aged 18 or over, you complete and return our Application for Referee Membership form, but do please contact our Recruitment Officer, David Yates, at beforehand. He will be very happy to have a chat and answer any questions you may have before setting you on the path towards becoming a member.

At this stage you will be a provisional member and will yet to have been allocated a grade.

You will also be given password-controlled access to “Who’s the Ref” (WTR) the RFU-approved online application that we use for recording all members’ details and availability and for appointing referees, assistant referees and match observers to games.

A key requirement for full membership is that you will have to attend and pass the RFU ERRA Level 2 (New Referee) course. This is run over two days, usually a fortnight apart.

If you are aged under 18, we ask that you and your parent /guardian complete and return our Membership Application Form for Young Match Officials. The Society has put in place specific arrangements for those aspiring referees under 18 years old to provide them with the necessary support and to ensure safeguarding matters are addressed. Details of these arrangements will be explained to you and your parent/guardian once you have joined as a Young Match Official member.


I’m an experienced, qualified referee and would like to join the Society – what should I do next?

Please download and complete our Application for Referee Membership form and return it to our Secretary as explained on the form.

If you have any questions about joining the Society, then please do not hesitate to contact our Recruitment Officer, David Yates, at


What will the Society do for me?

Once you become a member we will provide you with a Society jersey, shorts, socks, fleece and tie plus a whistle and flags; the Society will also refund you your ERRA Level 2 course fee once you have been appointed to and officiated at ten games.We will appoint you to games appropriate for your ability or potential (see: How do I get appointed to games by the Society?).

We provide support to our referees in numerous ways:

  • You can expect to be watched as soon as you start refereeing by an experienced match observer. This is so that we can assess your ability and give you constructive feedback to advise you of how to develop. We shall then determine how much you need to be watched, and whether you show early potential. We tend to watch new recruits more frequently in the early days, particularly if being considered for promotion to a higher grade.
  • We run meetings and specific training events, at which you are given the opportunity to deepen and broaden your understanding of refereeing (details of all events are announced on the Society’s website)
  • You will be allocated to a grade mentor who will be on-hand to help if you have any questions or just want to talk through some aspect of a game you refereed.
  • Finally, numerous resources are available from the Society’s website including World Rugby and RFU directives, law clarifications and Society announcements, procedures and policies e.g. for making appointments and grading.

Provided you are committed and self-motivated, the Society will try and do all it can to help you gain the most enjoyment from you refereeing and, if you want to and are good enough, to progress through the grades.

If at any time you have any concerns about a refereeing matter or just want to share an experience from a game, then please do not hesitate to contact your grade mentor, any Society official or a fellow referee. Remember it is very likely that they will have experienced similar challenges!


Please get in touch to start your journey as a Society referee!