Rugby Refereeing

Pexbo

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It’s clearly much better than Football refereeing and there’s a number of reasons for that. The main one being the nature of the games, Rugby is stop start by nature so it doesn’t spoil the flow of the game if the ref takes a little extra time to make the right decision.

There is one major difference though and that is that he’s hooked up to a microphone and provides a clear narration of the match, his decisions and the justification of them. Most importantly it makes them accountable.

Now there’s a problem in football with swearing which is often used as the reason why it can’t work. Because you would hear “feck off” about 30 times a game picked up by the referees mic. Rugby handles that by cautioning any player heard swearing and the game is better off for it because it creates a better playing environment and you can’t say it sanitises them or makes them any less competitive or aggressive.


I think the main reason it hasn’t come in is because football referees aren’t prepared for it. Rugby referees carry themselves with absolute formality, football referees are more like supply teachers that try to control the class by gaining respect by getting down on their level. It’s a completely different approach and I think if they their microphone was broadcast they’d be heavily criticised for how they manage the players during a game. How they speak to certain players compared to others.

If they could get them straightened out and enforce the players behaviour to it was broadcastable I think we’d have a better sport.
 

macheda14

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Or have the ref hooked up to the mic and only turn it on when he’s conferring with VAR. You won’t really hear anyone swearing during that time, it’s more an instant reaction to a foul being called against you. We also don’t need to hear anything else but VAR as it’s normally pretty clear what the foul is for.
 

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I don’t disagree, but consider the socio-economic background of many of rugby’s participants and the conditions in which they were brought up to ply their trade. Then compare it to football players.

Expectations should be higher, but football referees have a significantly more challenging group of individuals to deal with, as well as more grey areas to contend with in relation to rules. Crowds are more aggressive, atmosphere is more challenging and players haven’t been brought up to be as disciplined.

Again, I agree that expectations should be higher to prevent swearing and aggression towards referees. Referees wearing microphones might also be an interesting step in the right direction. But it isn’t an easy transition to make. Certainly not one that’s going to be made overnight.
 
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Just watched first QF, good reffing.

The thing is rugby is about position. Also, one man down is a killer (as easier to take advantage of gap) whereas football goes to a 441 and gaps (in key areas) not as large.

So, in rugby, foul language, arguing, etc leads to 10 yard penalties and potentially a yellow. Then above kicks in and the offending team actually sees the loss ... 7-10 point loss is norm points against when you get a player sinbinned.

So rugby teams know they'll suffer and perform appropriately. Until football rules say foul language/arguing is an instant card offence (and federations/associations FULLY back refs), it'll never change.

Also, rugby players aren't spoiled babies and act like grown men.
 

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one of the first things i had to learn when playing rugby for the first time (in my twenties) was to zip it. so used to gobbing off in football, had my prop give me a look after my fist mouthful at the ref, and that was my only mouthful at the ref for the rest of the season. noticed a few times in the WC just now, each time an england player tried to even speak to the ref, the captain or other senior players just shoved them away.
 

POF

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It’s clearly much better than Football refereeing and there’s a number of reasons for that. The main one being the nature of the games, Rugby is stop start by nature so it doesn’t spoil the flow of the game if the ref takes a little extra time to make the right decision.

There is one major difference though and that is that he’s hooked up to a microphone and provides a clear narration of the match, his decisions and the justification of them. Most importantly it makes them accountable.

Now there’s a problem in football with swearing which is often used as the reason why it can’t work. Because you would hear “feck off” about 30 times a game picked up by the referees mic. Rugby handles that by cautioning any player heard swearing and the game is better off for it because it creates a better playing environment and you can’t say it sanitises them or makes them any less competitive or aggressive.


I think the main reason it hasn’t come in is because football referees aren’t prepared for it. Rugby referees carry themselves with absolute formality, football referees are more like supply teachers that try to control the class by gaining respect by getting down on their level. It’s a completely different approach and I think if they their microphone was broadcast they’d be heavily criticised for how they manage the players during a game. How they speak to certain players compared to others.

If they could get them straightened out and enforce the players behaviour to it was broadcastable I think we’d have a better sport.
If you mean in relation to the respect shown to referees, I completely agree.

But rugby refereeing currently is at its lowest ebb for a long time. Yellow and red cards for the most innocuous of high contact, video referees interfering and slowing the game down and the general vagueness and over technical rules means that referees in rugby have more impact on the result of games than in almost any other sport.

In the current iteration of both games, rugby has far more issues to resolve with referees than football.
 

Swearing Budgie

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I remember a few seasons ago they said they would clamp down hard on players swearing at officials. In the first televised match of the season Rooney was obviously gobbing off within minutes and wasn't cautioned. And that was that. Nothing changed.
 

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If you mean in relation to the respect shown to referees, I completely agree.

But rugby refereeing currently is at its lowest ebb for a long time. Yellow and red cards for the most innocuous of high contact, video referees interfering and slowing the game down and the general vagueness and over technical rules means that referees in rugby have more impact on the result of games than in almost any other sport.

In the current iteration of both games, rugby has far more issues to resolve with referees than football.
Couldn’t agree more with this post. The quality of refereeing in Rugby is comical atm. Although I gather there’s also a top down push by those in charge to over police the rules.
 

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The whole set up is very different isn't it though.
You have fans all intertwined, drinking in their seats, it's all very polite if someone scores etc. It's nowhere near as tribal, even in the big world cup games.

Every little thing can go to tv, it's all very stop start. Just such a different sport.
 

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Rugby refs respect the TMO and the TMO isn’t afraid to make decisions. Football refs somehow manage to “see” everything. Whereas rugby refs are quite open that they can’t see everything and the TMO is there to help them with that.
 

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Agree, and think any player picked up swearing should be fined. You'd immediately change the culture of the game for the better.
 

VeevaVee

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There's a much better culture around this in rugby. It could happen in football, but it'd take a massive push to do so. Can't imagine they'd want to do it until VAR is fully sorted and settled, unless we just try and get it all done and dusted in one hit.
 

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Football refs are a cult. Need to disband the referees association, as in the current state they don't allow the individuals to be held accountable.
 

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one of the first things i had to learn when playing rugby for the first time (in my twenties) was to zip it. so used to gobbing off in football, had my prop give me a look after my fist mouthful at the ref, and that was my only mouthful at the ref for the rest of the season. noticed a few times in the WC just now, each time an england player tried to even speak to the ref, the captain or other senior players just shoved them away.
100%. Often embarrassed by how footballers act towards refs when these guys are pounding each other for 80 minutes and still zip it when the ref makes a decision.
 

fps

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one of the first things i had to learn when playing rugby for the first time (in my twenties) was to zip it. so used to gobbing off in football, had my prop give me a look after my fist mouthful at the ref, and that was my only mouthful at the ref for the rest of the season. noticed a few times in the WC just now, each time an england player tried to even speak to the ref, the captain or other senior players just shoved them away.
Absolutely. It's about respect, and frankly there is a colossal element in professional football, amateur football and in the stands which belongs in the gutter.
 

Dargonk

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The ref's are not any better, but the players are just far more respectful to the officials. Biggest problem in football in comparison is that instead of promoting respecting the officials decisions, instead they all group together and mouth off/surround them etc. All it would take was for the ref's to take a no tolerance approach and book the players who do it, and it would cut it out.
 

POF

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Couldn’t agree more with this post. The quality of refereeing in Rugby is comical atm. Although I gather there’s also a top down push by those in charge to over police the rules.
There certainly is and trying to ensure the game is safe so parents let their kids play is the driving force behind it. It's also a reaction to the issues with concussion in recent years.

They're doing it for the right reasons but they've gone too far and are making it a farce.
 

fergiesarmy1

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Agree, and think any player picked up swearing should be fined. You'd immediately change the culture of the game for the better.
I once get sent off playing football for swearing at myself for a poor shot, the ref was being assessed which I think was the reason for it as we finished with 9 men (sent off for swearing also) before half time which ruined the game for both sides really. I’ve also had refs swear at me though so it really does need clearing up in football.
 

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Refereeing is generally poor across many fast paced team sports. The NFL right now is hilarious, and they've been using video reviews for years. The NHL is similar, a lot of assistance, but still so many baffling calls.

The major issue that football seems to have over other sports is the respect shown to the officials, or absolute lack of. That part is truly abhorrent, and I'd love to see officials begin to make examples of players by properly punishing for dissent. It's something that happens every game from many players, but it's so rarely penalised.


Though VAR is now causing more problems than it is solving. When it comes to offside, they're disallowing goals if you're offside by the skin of your teeth, yet other decisions are being treated with a much more relaxed approach. One pinky toe beyond the last man is deemed a clear and obvious error, but the ball ricocheting off the upper arm prior to a goal is not. It makes no sense. You can't look at only one aspect of the game through a microscope but not others.
 

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Nigel Owen with a belter recently. After a line out is thrown he blows the whistle. Player starts arguing with him saying there was nothing wrong with it he replies ‘listen, I’m straighter than that throw was’ :lol:
 

fergiesarmy1

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Nigel Owen with a belter recently. After a line out is thrown he blows the whistle. Player starts arguing with him saying there was nothing wrong with it he replies ‘listen, I’m straighter than that throw was’ :lol:
:lol:
 

Flanders Devil

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There certainly is and trying to ensure the game is safe so parents let their kids play is the driving force behind it. It's also a reaction to the issues with concussion in recent years.

They're doing it for the right reasons but they've gone too far and are making it a farce.
Yep. It’s a bit of a conundrum really. A bit unrelated but similar thing with increasing safety was/is a push for uncontested scrums in under age rugby in Australia. While good for parents feeling better about their kids playing rugby and vital to increasing grass roots numbers - I’ve almost no doubt it impacted Australia’s scrumming at the top level.
 

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A big part of the problem here is that football refs pander to the media jury. Terrified of being grilled, they give popular decisions. Not always, of course.
 

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A while back an ex-ref (I cant remember which one but he was a top ref until relatively recently) was on talkSPORT and he said that personally he would have no problems coming out after a game and explaining his decisions. He said he thought it would increase confidence in referees and when asked what he’d do if he’d made an error he said he’d hold his hands up to it. He was very clear in that they aren’t allowed to do it. I thought that was interesting. I can’t see why they aren’t allowed.

Ref’s in rugby get much more latitude, but also have a lot more respect from the players and fans. I also think the language from the players is a major reason why football refs aren’t miked up.
 

RedRover

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If you mean in relation to the respect shown to referees, I completely agree.

But rugby refereeing currently is at its lowest ebb for a long time. Yellow and red cards for the most innocuous of high contact, video referees interfering and slowing the game down and the general vagueness and over technical rules means that referees in rugby have more impact on the result of games than in almost any other sport.

In the current iteration of both games, rugby has far more issues to resolve with referees than football.
I don’t agree with that.

Current refereeing looks heavy handed but it’s necessary to make the game safer.

Since the game went pro the players have, year on year become bigger, faster and stronger and the collisions are huge. There’ll be some horror stories for this generation of players (and the one before) in years to come relating to head injuries and concussion.

There have been numerous NFL players with CTE and other awful conditions which has highlighted the issue. If Rugby has a future that needs to be addressed.

A lot of the older players from my club have been critical of the reffing at the World Cup, whinging that the game’s gone soft. The fact is we’re getting less young players through the door generally and while there are numerous reasons for that, concern over safety is definitely one of them.

I would agree that some decisions are harsh, but the players need to get used to the new standards and remember that the game isn’t about smashing into every tackle and hurting someone.
 

RooneyLegend

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If you mean in relation to the respect shown to referees, I completely agree.

But rugby refereeing currently is at its lowest ebb for a long time. Yellow and red cards for the most innocuous of high contact, video referees interfering and slowing the game down and the general vagueness and over technical rules means that referees in rugby have more impact on the result of games than in almost any other sport.

In the current iteration of both games, rugby has far more issues to resolve with referees than football.
Yup, its gone from the best reffed sport there is with a few disasters here and there to an absolute mess. No one knows what's happening right now.
 

Bennz McCarthey17

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That English ref was atrocious yesterday. Good thing (for him) he is not a football referee, hopefully no Northern Hemisphere ref will be in charge of our match vs Wales. But interestingly enough, I do not curse as much at the ref when I'm watching Rugby than when I'm watching Football. It probably has to do with the fact in Rugby referees explain their decisions live atleast, whether they be right or wrong.
 

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I've been saying for ages to mic up the officials I can guarantee the cursing would stop once sponsors starting withdrawing their money from offenders, no sporting brand wants to be associated with that. Also need to go back to the rule that only the team captain can question the ref.
 

11101

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Two things.

1. Rugby referees are not better. They are making lots of mistakes and weird decisions lately, it's just nobody criticises them because they get penalised and they're quick to turn to VAR and pass any decision on to that.

2. Rugby is played at a much slower pace than football. Half the reason football referees are getting so bad is that game is moving so quickly now, they can't keep up with and see everything that happens. Players are fitter, faster and more technical than ever before.
 

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I don't buy into the rugby vs football background thing. They behave so much differently because they're allowed to. If players started routinely getting booked/sent off for acting the Cnut then the game would shift with it - just like certain tackles are far less common now. We're not dealing with 14 year olds that you can't bargain with.

Lots of talk about not undermining the referees through VAR, but the way the governing bodies have let players treat referees forever is a bigger problem.
 

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Not to get into the technicality of rules and quality & consistency of application....the respect that rugby players have toward the ref is admirable and something footballers have no excuse for not showing toward football referees.
 

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I've been saying for ages to mic up the officials I can guarantee the cursing would stop once sponsors starting withdrawing their money from offenders, no sporting brand wants to be associated with that. Also need to go back to the rule that only the team captain can question the ref.
Cursing wouldn't stop. On TV, the broadcasters would be on a 3 second delay and just mute it. You hear it every NFL game and the commentators just do a quick sorry and move on. In the US, you'll get these funny FCC (Federal Communications Commission) complaints about hearing players cuss. It's less than half a percent of people complaining compared to the people who watch.

The ref would only turn on their mic when explaining the decision, all the while the players are also trying to hear what is being said. And the ref should be facing the TV gantry away from being surrounded by too many players.

I also never understand why there is only one on-pitch ref for football. The pitch is massive and there are so many things going on. Linesman/woman only do so much. I think it'll make sense to have two refs on the pitch and they work together. It goes back to the FA and how they view referees and game officials. Do they value them and train them properly and compensate them and reprimand them according to performance? I don't believe they do and that's a big issue.
 

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I don’t disagree, but consider the socio-economic background of many of rugby’s participants and the conditions in which they were brought up to ply their trade. Then compare it to football players.

Expectations should be higher, but football referees have a significantly more challenging group of individuals to deal with, as well as more grey areas to contend with in relation to rules. Crowds are more aggressive, atmosphere is more challenging and players haven’t been brought up to be as disciplined.

Again, I agree that expectations should be higher to prevent swearing and aggression towards referees. Referees wearing microphones might also be an interesting step in the right direction. But it isn’t an easy transition to make. Certainly not one that’s going to be made overnight.
Rugby League has a more deferential culture among players to officials than football but the players come from similarly poor backgrounds. I'd put that aside and say it's more a cultural thing that's stayed within both codes of rugby that football lost along the way. I agree with everything else though; the atmospheres on and off the pitch seem more adversarial in football and mic'd up refs would certainly be interesting.
 

11101

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Cursing wouldn't stop. On TV, the broadcasters would be on a 3 second delay and just mute it. You hear it every NFL game and the commentators just do a quick sorry and move on. In the US, you'll get these funny FCC (Federal Communications Commission) complaints about hearing players cuss. It's less than half a percent of people complaining compared to the people who watch.

The ref would only turn on their mic when explaining the decision, all the while the players are also trying to hear what is being said. And the ref should be facing the TV gantry away from being surrounded by too many players.


I also never understand why there is only one on-pitch ref for football. The pitch is massive and there are so many things going on. Linesman/woman only do so much. I think it'll make sense to have two refs on the pitch and they work together. It goes back to the FA and how they view referees and game officials. Do they value them and train them properly and compensate them and reprimand them according to performance? I don't believe they do and that's a big issue.
Yeah, how does it work? Do they only broadcast when they're talking? Last thing you want to hear on TV is fat fecks like Jon Moss gasping for air every time the play stops.

Referees in the PL are trained and paid pretty well now. It all comes down to the FA refusing to come down from their ivory towers, referees are allegedly reprimanded but the public almost never know anything about it.
 

edcunited1878

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Yeah, how does it work? Do they only broadcast when they're talking? Last thing you want to hear on TV is fat fecks like Jon Moss gasping for air every time the play stops.

Referees in the PL are trained and paid pretty well now. It all comes down to the FA refusing to come down from their ivory towers, referees are allegedly reprimanded but the public almost never know anything about it.
In the NFL (and college football) and NHL, refs communicate with each other face to face and get communication from their mics. For the NHL, the refs and linesman skate to the side where there are NHL game officials who have a direct feed (audio and visual) from their Toronto office who allow them to look at penalties, goals, offsides, etc.. Then the head linesman/ref goes towards the middle of the ice, towards the TV cameras and explains their decision.

For NFL, Once they agree with the ramifications for each team, individual players, who has possession, etc. for when they reset the game, the main NFL ref walks away from the players in a clear area, which faces the TV cameras in the press box, turns on his mic which is attached to his hip belt, then explains the ruling on the field which is heard over the PA system/tannoy, in addition to the TV feed. Cameras will pan to players, coaches, etc. for visceral reaction. Then play goes on. It works 100% and provides accountability for the refs. Meanwhile, players and coaches usually treat it as a timeout and communicate with each other, make in game adjustments, water, etc. instead of just bitching and moaning and surrounding the ref.

For example, during yesterday's match. It would be great to have heard the following.

"The ruling on the field was a goal for Liverpool by #10. However, after consulting with VAR, it has been deemed that #10 Liverpool made contact with the ball with his arm/hand during the phase of play which is illegal and a foul. The goal is overturned. No goal. Free kick to Manchester United at the spot of the foul." Whistle blows, play goes on.

Completely agree with you and the FA/ivory tower comment.
 

Josep Dowling

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Agree with the OP.

Mic up the referees so we can hear why they are so incompetent at making decisions even with VAR.

Book players for swearing.

Give full control of VAR decisions to the referee viewing the replays. I still don’t understand why they haven’t done this. Why does the match referee need the final decision? Fans want the correct decision, that is it.

We have seen in the World Cup and Champions League how much time is wasted by a referee viewing the replay again. The Premier League haven’t even used this system yet.

All referees need to be training at fitness levels of the players. I can’t get over how unfit Premier League referees look, they are meant to keep up with play with some of the fittest people in the world. Surely they are remunerated enough to focus on fitness during the week.
 
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Having spent a few years going to an amateur boxing club it’s not really down to the backgrounds of the people. It’s just a matter of respect. Before that I had studied a martial art for 3 years. Again, all walks of life, all different types of backgrounds but there was respect. It was part of the culture.

Football has always been my favourite sport but unless I played with mates (kick about) I never really enjoyed playing it. I once played for a local team and only lasted about half the season before I walked away. It really made me fall out of love with the game. Just the level of disrespect shown to the ref/linesmen was crazy. These where people giving up their Saturdays so that we could play. One time I had to run the line as we were a linesman short. My own teammates would give me grief if I flagged for an offside/foul. I remember one guy in my team, good background, great job but my god he was a **** to the refs.

Have been lucky enough to have been able to go to four games during the current Rugby World Cup. My first time ever being at a rugby game and it shocked me how different it is to football (in and out of the stadium). No separation of fans, people drink way more (going against the whole alcohol/violence thing) and there were no problems. Just a great atmosphere.

Does anyone here have kids that play football? Is more emphasis being put on them to learn self discipline and respect for the officials compared to when you were younger?
 

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VAR works so well in Rugby because the rules are far clearer.

A knock-on is a knock-on, a grounding is a grounding, a forward pass is a forward pass.

Even fouls are really clearly defined, as are the punishments. No tipping, no tackling a player in the air and no contact with the neck or head.

Football is all about interpretation and crucially in some cases, intent. We’re constantly having this debate about what a player “intended” to do - and that doesn’t really come into it in other sports. You don’t see a Rugby referee wave play on because a player didn’t intend to knock the ball on, you don’t see a cricket umpire overturn an LBW because the player intended to hit the ball first, you don’t see a tennis player let off a double-fault because he intended to clear the net.

If VAR is going to work, it really needs to be strictly kept to things which can be defined in black and white. Offside is an obvious one and handball is too, if we forget all the nonsense about “intent”.

Where I don’t think it should ever be used (and not just because of the weekends events!) is for fouls. How can you say definitively that a “foul” is a foul in football? We all accept it’s a contact sport so you couldn’t have a rule whereby ANY contact results in a free kick or we would never have more than 3 seconds action. There’s also the question of how far back you go to a contentious event and if you’re going to roll-back minutes at a time, why just do that for goals? What about when a promising attack is halted by a contentious event?

I genuinely believe VAR was used correctly on Sunday. That’s the blueprint for how it should work. Handballs, offside and serious foul play unseen by the referee.

Just in addition, I would like to see a trial for penalty incidents only where referees are allowed one look at a replay of the incident in real-time. None of this super slow-mo and eight angles. If you need slow motion plus 8 angles and 5 re-runs, it can’t be very obvious can it! Remember, we’re not looking to correct everything, just the clear and obvious errors