World Rugby Officiating : The home of Rugby officiating on the web : Match Observation Programme
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Why the whistle was blown (or not)

In very simplistic terms, it could be suggested that the match official education programme supplies individuals with a licence to referee Rugby. Knowledge of the Laws of the Game informs newly accredited referees when they should blow their whistle to stop a game. Therefore, referee education and knowledge of the Laws does not necessarily assist them in creating game continuity, but rather it identifies potential stoppages in play for them to be aware of throughout a game.

It has been suggested that there are 86 penalty or free kick offences identified in the Law book that have the potential for a referee to blow the whistle
but there is only one Advantage Law.

What is more significant is that the 86 offences are well documented, very precise and worded in clear language. The one Advantage Law (Law 8) is, on a comparative basis, quite vague and specifically open to the referee’s discretion.

Referees learn about their role and when to blow the whistle. At the same time, the referee is introduced to the less specific Law 8 Advantage. It is only after individuals have then become active referees that intense referee development begins. Once referees have reached an appropriate level of fitness, knowledge and experience they then move on to other important issues, such as:

  • Empathy for the game;
  • Reading the game;
  • Anticipating what is going to happen;
  • Knowing the best running line to enable them to be at the next breakdown early;
  • Positioning him/herself at that breakdown; and,
  • Understanding and applying the Advantage Law in an astute manner.