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Positive Play – Referee Points of Emphasis

Paul Eddison

9 Sep 2016


A number of priority directives for referees from World Rugby have been issued and discussed with each of the Guinness PRO12 unions during the preseason and five areas of emphasis have been identified for the coming season.

Ed Morrison, independent appointments commissioner for the Guinness PRO12, explained: “Ahead of every season our goal is to ensure that positive play is encouraged throughout the Championship and we work hard with our officials and the unions to implement the directives from World Rugby. There aren’t too many changes from last season, but if our officials can key in on these points of emphasis then we believe that teams competing in the Guinness PRO12 will be rewarded for positive play.”

1 Scrum

  • Pre-engagement
  • Stability
  • Angles
  • Supporting Body Weight

2 Breakdown

  • Rolling Away
  • Clear Release
  • Supporting Body Weight
  • Take Outs

Note: To create the opportunity for more positive play referees are to prioritise clearing tacklers away from the breakdown as quickly as possible to ensure a fair contest.

Referees have also been asked to remain vigilant to players clearing out at the ruck without binding and sanction any shoulder or forearm charges which potentially put player safety at risk.

3 Space

  • Pillars
  • Hands on the Ground
  • Retreating Players
  • Lineout
  • In Front of the Kicker

Note: Once a side has won hard earned possession it’s imperative they are rewarded with the space in which to utilize such possession. On field officials are obliged to manage strictly.

4 Lineout & Maul

  • Contact in Air
  • Swimming
  • Sacking Lifters
  • Formation

Note: Illegal interference with players in the air is dangerous play, as is the act of sacking support lifters, match officials to be vigilant in observing such incidents.

5 Foul Play

  • Dangerous Tackles
  • Neck Rolls
  • Charging
  • Collisions in the Air

Note: Match officials to ensure they manage incidents of Foul Play effectively. Player’s safety is our No1 priority.

In addition to these directives, Guinness PRO12 have also invested in developing the base of match officials while there will be a concerted drive to ensure that, where possible, Assistant Referee 1 (AR1) and the Television Match Official will be neutral appointments.