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  • Writer's pictureJohn Evans

December 2022 Newsletter

First of all, congratulations to Hollie Davidson on being appointed to referee the World Cup Final!

Hollie had some big calls to make and the clarity of decision-making was impressive given the pressure cooker atmosphere at Eden Park.

Forgive my nerdiness, but I was really impressed by Hollie’s sparing use of verbal communication. We’ve discussed this a couple of times at meetings and Hollie’s sequence (if I remember rightly) of: main signal, secondary signal, statement of offending number, statement of offence and then get on with the game really helped make it a flowing game.

Also, congratulations to Calum Wehmeyer on being appointed to Scottish Rugby’s Youth Panel. Calum will tell us more about his role on the Youth Panel in a future newsletter.

Congratulations too to Jayme McGoldrick who was the Match Official signaller for the Autumn Tests- in other words, he was the person who flashed up on the screen what the decision was for.


It was great to see Fergus Hollins on the sidelines of the Scotland v Argentina game as 4th Official- he was certainly kept busy with all the cards being issued!

Well done to all and it all goes to show the plethora of opportunities available once you become a Match Official!

For the first time in 2022, I am going to extend wishes for a joyful Christmas and Happy New Year!

There done it... don’t expect any more seasonal goodwill from your President... unless you read to the bit about the December Quiz!

I did try and find a reference to Santa in the Laws of World Rugby but I couldn’t find the right Claus... ho ho ho!

I hear Santa has taken up refereeing in the North Pole (East) Regional League. He’s taking it very seriously and if you look on ‘Who is the Ref?’ you’ll see his Elf Assessments!

I want to start off with some reminders about key issues around game management.

Age grade variations in adult leagues Some teams have mentioned that occasionally referees have given Reserve League teams the option to play full scrum laws when the Reserve League regulations state that it is Under 19 scrum law variations which should be applied throughout the Reserve Leagues.

When uncontested scrums are in place in matches some referees are not permitting No. 8s to pick up from the base of the scrum. In Law, they are allowed to do so.

The appendix contains a useful summary of variations and maximum subs by league and division.

There are also a full set of variations, kindly prepared by Ian Thom on the ERRS website.

Technical Areas Clubs should be reminded that they must mark out technical areas, even if with cones. We have had cases of coaches prowling, Alex Ferguson-like, up and down touchlines. They literally need to get back in the box!

Touch judges and flags

Clubs have been asked to ensure they supply a touch judge (and flags.) Where one team does not have enough players or volunteers to provide a touch judge then the opposition (if they have enough players or volunteers) could be asked to supply an additional touch judge.

Team Sheets We need to make sure we have team sheets. We need to check front-row replacements and also use it in case of any disciplinary matters.

Feedback from meetings with Clubs We’ve held some good zoom calls with a few clubs to review the season and the feedback has been very positive and centred around a few themes. Here are the main points to date:

  • Consistency- in areas such as backrow binding. Feedback was that consistency is improving so that’s great work

  • High tackles appear to be creeping back in- we need to be firm on these Being clear on materiality and penalising those issues to allow the game to flow as much as possible

  • More preventative communication during open play and breakdown such ‘roll east or west’ in the ruck

  • Positioning can be seen as a development area- particularly for new refs

  • Don’t prevaricate when giving a penalty: whistle, signal, secondary signal and state the offence- no explanation required so that the game flows

  • Be approachable and be prepared to explain decisions after the game, discuss where the issue was and why you made that decision.


Let any of the coaches know if anyone would like to discuss any of the above.

Fitness Mark Sinclair of Heriots Super 6, Stewarts Melville School and Scottish Swimming and Diving is now in full flow with the fitness work.

Mark has set up a WhatsApp group for all our members. Please message Mark at markpuckle@hotmail.co.uk in order to get added.

You can contact me too – just don’t expect to see me hobbling like Winston from ‘Still Game’ through the Bronco!

Congratulations to the 3 ERRS members who broke the 5 mins 30 seconds barrier for the Bronco test held at Leith recently - Johnny Cockayne, Rob McDowell and Jayme McGoldrick (but not necessarily in that order!)

Our New Constitution The new ERRS constitution was approved at a Special General Meeting on 9th November. Thanks again go to Jim Fleming for the work done in pulling the draft together which was then approved unanimously at the SGM.

A copy of the new constitution will be on the website shortly.

ERRS Survey Thanks to everyone who filled in the survey. The headlines were:

  • Most of our active (as match officials) members have been refereeing for 5 years or more

  • Over half are members of rugby clubs

  • Most of us find it beneficial to be part of ERRS and think the meetings are interesting or very interesting Members would like to have more say in the agenda by tabling items on the night

Some members would like us to vary the days and locations of meetings to accommodate other commitments and where they live.

Subscriptions Can I again repeat the plea for subs to be paid ERRS subs are £15 for the season with a voluntary £1 addition to the Murrayfield Injured Players Fund?

Payment should be made to:

  • Edinburgh Rugby Referees’ Society

  • Account Number: 00133451

  • Sort Code: 801114


Please add your first initial and family name as narrative and the word ‘subs’ after it. If you are unable to make the payment just now, then give me a call or drop me an email (07834 521 519/ john_b_evans@me.com) and we will provide a solution- it’s no issue.

There are some notable absences in the ‘subs paid’ list- you’ve had kit so please pay your subs. The new constitution allows us to cease appointing individuals who have not paid their subscriptions by 1st November to matches under our jurisdiction. There could be some interesting WTR notices in the next few weeks

Monthly Meetings We held our third monthly meeting at Boroughmuir Rugby club in November when we covered dealing with Match Official Abuse with Iain Young and then continued our discussion on preventative communication with players with Dr Iain Cunningham of Napier University.

Our December meeting (14th December) will also be at Meggetland and will feature the famous Johnny Cockayne Quiz with prizes for the winners and a free bar. We’ve even asked for the meeting to be on the ground floor so it’s too far to walk to get a drink! That’s as far as the Presidential Christmas Spirit goes!

ERRS Heritage We have added a Heritage and Memories tab to our ERRS website and thanks to those who have contributed. We’ve more photos and items of interest to add and if you have anything from the history of ERRS then let us have a photo and we’ll add it.

Sorry to hear...... EDRRS was saddened to hear of the death on 5th October at Kirriemuir of long serving and respected Edinburgh Academy teacher and referee , Peter ‘Wilmo’ Wilmshurst. Peter taught languages, with a focus on Russian, at the same school for a remarkable 29 years. He was also an accomplished sportsman, having played rugby for Esher and Surrey in his younger days, and served as master in charge of both cricket and football for many years. He represented Esher in the Middlesex Sevens at Twickenham and played for Accies 1st XV on

numerous occasions and refereed to a high-level, most notably touch-judging Scotland v Ireland at Murrayfield.

Exchanges Graham Newton, Gregor McIntosh and Alex Obreja are running with this programme. We have plans in place with the Borders, Netherlands, Cumbria, Northumberland, Durham and London. It’s a slow burn with the aim of really cracking on next season.

ERRS Annual Dinner This will take place at Teviot (Edinburgh University) on Saturday, 28th January 2023. Our speakers will include:

  • Colin Rigby – President of Scottish Rugby

  • Mark Blair- Ulster, Borders, Edinburgh, Toulouse and Penicuik

Alex Haskett is leading on the organisation and we will issue ticket details shortly. We will also be awarding our three annual trophies: young or new referee of the year, referee of the year and lifetime achievement award. If you have someone you’d like to nominate for any of those then please let me know and we will take that individual into our consideration.

Price of tickets will be £35 per head and there will be a 50% discount for all members under the age of 18 or who are students (£18).

We also extend the invitation to wives, husbands, partners and friends as we celebrate 2022 and our achievements and look forward to 2023.

There is a limit of 60 for the dinner so make sure you don’t miss out!

Introduction to Match Official Courses - a new programme Scottish Rugby’s Game Development team have introduced an online course to replace the current classroom-based programme. The online course is followed up by an on-field practice and assessment.

Thanks to everyone who has volunteered to be an Educator. We will report shortly when we have a clear view on how the Educators will work as part of this programme.

Self-Development We’ve now run a couple of sessions on scrums and the lineout and we’d urge as many referees as possible to attend these evenings. We always learn something new and for those wishing to progress then they are vital.


And finally....... Please remember, we are here to support each other- on and off the field. If any of us want to talk about anything at all, please reach out.

We have a qualified mental health first aider in Liam Burnell and Liam is available to support any of us should we so wish. Liam spoke at the September meeting and the information he provided is set out below.

Please keep feeding back the comments on how ERRS is being run, what we can do better and anything we can add. We are here as the unofficial Match Officials’ Rugby Club and we want it to be fun, enjoyable and worth being part of.


Best wishes,

John Evans

ERRS President

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