England Touch has a full range of resources for every referee, whatever your level.
Referee signals are an important communication tool. Only those few players close to you will hear clearly the decisions made by most referees, however everyone is able to see them. The use of signals allows buddy referees, players, coaches and spectators to understand the rulings made by the referee.
England Touch referees have put together a video guide to Touch referee hand signals. We hope this will be a fun and helpful way to help new refs learn some of the signals we use in games.
CLICK HERE to see the latest version of FIT rules
There are a number of rule amendments which England Touch is adopting in the 2020 National Touch Series. Full guidance will be sent to referees and clubs in due course.
The terminology used throughout the rules has realigned our sport to its roots and the terminology commonly used. ‘Touchdowns’ are now ‘tries’, the ‘score zone’ is now the ‘in-goal area’, the ‘score line’ is the ‘tryline’ and ‘a period of time’ is ‘the sin-bin’
Starting the match
Winning the toss will result in choosing direction of play, sub box and newly off to attack or defend
Defenders will be required to retire a set distance of 7 metres from the ruck as opposed to the current ‘not less than 5 metres’ rule. This will improve consistency in its application and is more in line with what is currently being applied across our sport
Defensive players entering 7m zone
Players will be required to move forward once a defender enters that zone as is the current rule but will be required to now do so at a ‘reasonable pace’. What is deemed ‘reasonable pace’ will be well-defined throughout all education to aid consistent application
Obstruction v Deviation
The defender will be required to retire to an onside position without interfering or impeding the attacking team. This rule will replace the requirement to return to an onside position without changing direction. A player may now choose any direction and change that direction, as long as their actions do not interfere with the attacking team
Three penalties on the line
Any three consecutive infringements in the one possession by the defending team in their 7-metre zone will result in the last player to infringe being placed in the nearest sin-bin area until their team regains possession of the ball.
Interchange on interception/breakaway
Interchanges during a breakaway situation will be prohibited. Any player who enters the field from the interchange area during a breakaway, regardless of whether a try is scored or not, will be sent to the sin-bin
Any touch made following an intercept or following a ball being touched in flight will be zero touch.
Any player sent to the sin bin will remain in the sin-bin for a compulsory four completed sets of possession by both teams. This will no longer be at the discretion of the referee and will provide greater consistency in its application
A restart, eg a tap, is taken off the mark or taken instead of a roll ball will no longer result in a change of possession. The player will be simply required to return to the correct mark and perform the correct restart
1. Be punctual and make sure you have all your required equipment needed to referee a game (correct uniform, badge, whistle, coin, pen, scorecard) please remember that NO jewellery is to be worn by referees on the field (with the exception of a watch covered by a sweatband) and no sharp fingernails are allowed
2. Always stretch and warm up before a game. This ensures you’ll be physically and mentally ready for the game
3. All referees are responsible for the safety of the players and the game officials (referees) that are participating in a game. The match referee should at all times be aware of situations that may cause potential injury and assess those risks and act in a responsible manner to eliminate those risks
4. Assess the condition of the playing surface; remove potential danger (debris etc) locate all the markers and familiarise yourself with the dimensions of the field. Make sure any safety equipment that is required has been put in position (goal post pads, cones, etc)
5. Address the participating teams or team captains. Explain your requirements and what you expect of each player on field. Explain any rules that may be required by the local authority or body in control of the venue
6. A coin is the best way to commence a game. It is clear and concise and the fairest for both team captains to decide their team options. Please note that as of 2020 the winner of the toss can choose a) the direction, b) the sub box, and c) whether they attack or defend first
Communication by a referee on the field is to be kept to the highest standard at all times.
1. All directions from the referee should be clear, concise and use the correct terminology
2. A referee should talk to players (not at them) and communicate with a polite but strong personality and an appropriate voice pitch. This may vary in different game situations
3. Communicate with team captains and place responsibility on them to inform their players of your directions and decisions
4. Take the time to answer a question by the team captain
5. Blow your whistle clearly and loudly
6. Control the 5-metre offside line and adjust your position accordingly. Most of the play is focused in this area and most decisions are made here
7. Call players offside and out of play by number identification and look for defending players moving to early to make a touch. Play attacking advantage when you can
8. Sound the touch count clearly. Keep track of the touch count at all times
9. Be aware when the half has the ball. A good way to do this is to pinch or cross your fingers together and release them when they release the ball
10. Be conscious of all roll ball and penalty marks
11. Be conscious of infringements in the roll ball area for both attacking and defending players
12. Be aware of boundary lines, score lines and sub box areas and incorrect use of them, control these areas
13. Issue warnings to offending players on the run to maximize a free-flowing game
14. Initiate cooling-off periods for offending players when required
15. Initiate period of time (sin bin) if required to offending players
16. Initiate a send off for major rule infringements
17. Make courteous comments to players when appropriate (e.g. good touch, great touchdown, good work getting back on side, honest call well done etc.)
18. NEVER ABUSE, STRIKE OR BE DELIBERATELY DEROGATIVE TO A PLAYER OR SPECTATOR
19. Maintain consistency at all times
20. Always strive for consistent and correct decisions
The Post-Game Procedures are important to confirm all on-field information and to close the game.
1. On completion of the game, announce the score and have the team captains or managers sign the scorecard as accepting the final score, and sign it afterwards
2. Ensure you pass the scorecards to the tournament organisers and inform them of any incidents or disputes
3. If you have sent off a player for the remainder of the game, you must complete and submit an incident report sheet
4. Always stretch and cool down after a game