High performance referees

Our High Performance referees are those who have through time, experience and exposure to higher lever games reached a level where they are considered competent to referee professional rugby and have the potential to progress to refereeing at a high level such as Heineken Cup.

The High Performance Referee requires a much greater skill set to deal with the demands of a fast moving, fast paced game – details of the skills set required are set out below.

Game knowledge

It is very important that referees at this level have a full understanding of the laws and be able to apply them accurately with a very high level of consistency throughout each game.

Empathy for the game

Empathy for the game comes with experience gained as a player or when developing as a referee, HP referees should have the ability to read what players are trying to achieve within the context of each game and give them the opportunity to achieve this.


Referees at this level will be required to deliver messages in a clear and concise way to players during the game; coaching staff before and after each game; and media when involved in televised or high profile appointments. Communication is a skill which requires training and practice to achieve the high level required.


The demands of the game at this level require the referee to attain a much higher level of fitness, referees in the HP group will be required to pass the IRB fitness tests at least twice per season as directed by the High Performance group manager.

Team player

Referees at this level will in the main operate within a team of officials and will be expected to deliver on agreed outcomes and show loyalty to the team members supporting him.

Management skills

Management is a key factor at higher level games where player skills will be higher and their demands on the HP referee to manage the game will be greater. It is important for referees at this level to establish good player relationships and fully understand the implications of game outcomes.


HP Referees will be expected to be good leaders to ensure they can contribute to the development of the team they are leading, strong leadership is also required to influence player behaviour during the game.

Continuous learning

Referees at this level must have the ability to carry out a detailed and accurate assessment of their own performance by viewing a DVD of the game. All referees in the HP group must be open to receiving feedback, both positive and negative, from a number of sources.

Balanced lifestyle

There are limited opportunities for full time positions in refereeing, it is therefore extremely important for referees at this level to strike a good balance between their professional life, home, training and social commitments.

Emotional intelligence

The game at higher levels can become very intense and emotionally charged, HP referees must have the ability to operate in this type of environment and handle how others will perceive them while working under intense pressure.

Decision making

HP referees must have the ability to make very big and demanding decisions while under intense pressure within a game situation.

Prepared to be accountable

All referees at this level will be expected to accept when they have made an error no matter what they perceive the consequences of any errors may bring. Referees must be prepared to learn from mistakes and, if required, change to ensure they are not repeated.