Referee recruitment

Interesting new plans from our colleagues in SARU. Taken from the excellent web site:

SA refs seek recruits

Sun, 17 Feb 2008 23:20

A National Recruitment Campaign that aims to boost the ranks of amateur rugby referees in South Africa over the next few years has been launched by the SA Rugby Referees’ Society.

The campaign has been developed in response to the current shortfall in the number of amateur referees in the country. The recruitment drive will be supported by a National Awareness and Education campaign.

Speaking at a media briefing here today, SA Rugby Referees CEO, André Watson, said that, since 2004, the overall number of amateur rugby referees in South Africa had decreased by 22 per cent. He added that the situation was made worse by the fact that not enough new referees were currently coming into the sport. Hence the need for the national recruitment drive.

“In real terms, South Africa should have approximately 8 300 amateur referees to meet the requirements for club and schoolboy rugby,” Watson said.

“Currently there are just over 1 521 amateur referees, a shortfall of almost 7 000! There are two aspects of concern – firstly, the game is losing too many referees and, secondly, there are not enough new referees being recruited,” Watson added.

“The reduction in the number of amateur referees has led to a decline in standards and, in some cases, the loss of support for the game at grassroots level. There may be long-term impact for SA Rugby and its 14 provinces if we do not act now,” Watson said.

Watson said a range of factors was responsible for the current situation. These included violence towards, and physical and verbal abuse of referees, negative public attitudes and intolerance towards referees, negative public perceptions of referees and inadequate understanding of the Laws of the Game.

“Urgent action is required by all stakeholders within rugby and those who love and support the game at all levels to work together and restore the balance,” Watson stressed.

“It’s a fact that without referees there will be no game!”

It is hoped that the National Recruitment and Awareness drive will rectify the situation by increasing the number of amateur referees in all 14 SARU Provinces. This would improve the standard of refereeing and ultimately provide better quality rugby. As a result, support would improve and ensure the growth of the game across the board.

The National Recruitment and Awareness Campaign encompasses a three-pronged strategy – a National Recruitment drive, Awareness through the media, as well as a drive to educate all key stakeholders with regard to the Laws of the Game and their attitudes towards referees.

“Whilst the recruitment campaign will be managed nationally, the 14 Provinces, and specifically their refereeing structures, will be crucial to the success of the campaign,” said Watson.

“They have existing programmes in place and relationships on the ground to give effect to the campaign. The key to success is based on the synergy between the National campaign and the actual training of new recruits and spreading of the campaign messages.

“We do also not expect to fix the problem in a short space of time but we run the risk of it worsening if we do not act swiftly and decisively, which is what this initiative is all about,” Watson concluded.




– Advocating a “unified” approach with SARU and its 14 Provinces working for common objective

– Stemming the tide of referees leaving the game, and attracting new referees to the sport

– Generating awareness to the importance, inputs, and value of referees, especially at amateur level

– Changing negative perceptions towards referees via education and information

– Educating the broader public about the Laws of the Game

– Educating and engaging media to encourage balanced media attitudes and enhanced public knowledge of the Laws and the role of referees


– 14 Provincial Unions
– Media and Broadcasters
– Referees & Potential referees
– Rugby administrators, coaches and players
– Club, Schools and Tertiary Institutions
– Rugby Associations
– Players Union and Player Agents
– Sponsors
– Government
– Corporate Sector
– Broader Rugby Public


– Sponsorship: A rights-package has been developed and potential sponsors are being approached to support campaign activities
– Campaign Identity: A strong and recognisable icon has been developed to identify the campaign.
– Events: Launches, Briefings, Workshops and Roadshows will form part of campaign activities

– Stakeholder Relations: Presentations will be made to key influencers, amongst them government, Provincial Unions, Clubs, Schools, Broadcasters and Media 

– Website and Newsletter: Dedicated online and print vehicles will be used to educate and promote the campaign


1 Media Partnerships: Key, high-profile Electronic and Print media will be approached to support the campaign via laws education, discussion forums, interviews, discussion panels and other elements

2 Media Champions: Key individuals within print and electronic media will be approached to serve as advocates for the campaign

3 Media Education: Forums will be created for Media to discuss the Laws and related matters


– National Recruitment Drive: A National, centrally co-ordinated effort, using a variety of mediums to attract new referees to the sport

– Provincial Support: Support of the 14 Provinces via “on-the-ground” structures

– School and Clubs: Outreach via roadshows and workshops to attract potential recruitees

– Recruitment Barometer: Periodic update of recruitment progress

– “Outreach” campaign: Activities linked to amateur events such as Youth Weeks, Easter Festivals, Club Champs etc

– “Hands off Our Referees” – This will be the over-riding sentiment of the initiative. People need to be responsible and level-headed in their estimation of referees – without referees, there is no game!

– Action – SARU is proactively addressing the refereeing crisis via stakeholder education and awareness, relationship building and a concerted recruitment drive in 2008

– Intervention – A programme is being implemented that aims to averting the crisis in amateur refereeing in South African rugby

– Unity – The South African rugby community has a collective responsibility towards addressing the matter

– Attitude – Widespread tolerance, respect and understanding is required to redress negative perceptions of, and change attitudes towards, referees and the important role they play

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