• John Evans

November Newsletter

Welcome to the November Newsletter. We are on the cusp of the Autumn tests and Hollie Davidson is having a great World Cup in New Zealand with her taking control of the quarter-final between France and Italy on Saturday. I’m sure we’re all delighted with her achievements and representation of Scottish Rugby and ERRS hopefully Hollie will be along to one of our 2023 meetings to talk about her experiences. I’m sure it doesn’t come close to the thrill of winning the ERRS Referee of the Year a few seasons ago though!


It might happen to any of us...

Injuries to players - and match official abuse - Important

Remember there are no such protocols as HIA in club rugby in Scotland.

The referee has the duty and responsibility to instruct a player to leave the field of play on a permanent basis if the referee believes that the player has received an injury and to carry on would endanger the well-being of that player.

This is covered in World Rugby’s Law 3 section 22c:


The referee decides (with or without medical advice) that it would be inadvisable for the player to continue. The referee orders that player to leave the playing area.

If players or coaches behave in a manner deemed to be unsporting or abusive towards the match official after such an incident then the normal sanctions should be applied and the matter reported to Scottish Rugby as Match Official Abuse. No comment or incident is too small to be reported and Scottish Rugby is keen to ensure they stay on top of matters. This applies to other forms of match official abuse too. These can be comments from coaches, players, and spectators. We are taking a zero-tolerance approach along with Scottish Rugby. We are having conversations with clubs about incidents and we will drive hard to eradicate any form of abuse. The Match Official Abuse Form (MOAF) is available on WhosTheRef.


If you require support in filling in the form or want to talk anything through then please contact me, Graham Newton or Iain Young (our discipline officer).

Here’s an interesting article on how the RFU are approaching the matter:

https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2022/sep/07/zero-tolerance-crackdown-on-abuse-of-rugby-referees-as-threats-rise


Fitness and Nutrition

Mark Sinclair (of Heriots Super 6, Scottish Swimming and Diving) has joined us as our fitness/S&C coach and Mark has set up a WhatsApp group for all our members. Please message Mark on 07901 363532 or email him at markpuckle@hotmail.co.uk

The aim is that we provide our members to attain the levels of fitness that they need for their level of rugby they wish to be involved in. Fergus’s session at the last meeting showed the levels of fitness required to operate at Premiership and National League levels.

We will run our first Bronco test on or around the 7th or 8th November and we will confirm timings once we have a venue confirmed.

There are guidelines on nutrition contained in the email version of this newsletter I sent out (which will be uploaded to the website shortly) with some excellent links to videos and other sources. Again, we want to set our members up for success and nutrition before and after the game is key. We issued a guide to hydration on social media recently based on some work with football referees and that’s worth a read.


Match Planning I think we all know the saying ‘what gets done gets measured’ and it’s impressive to see the growing number of referees who are producing and sharing match plans with their coaches.

For those who might be new to refereeing or have never written a match plan, Paul Rendle has permitted me to share his from a game in October which is shown below:

Apologies for the duplication of sections but I had to copy it from my phone.


However, what is clear is the preparation that Paul put into his plan and this helped him to have an excellent game on the day.


ERRS and Scottish Rugby Partnership Agreement We are delighted that we have now signed off the ERRS partnership agreement with Scottish Rugby and this will help us focus on several key aspects of our work to recruit, retain and develop our match officials.

Our focus will be on:

  • Recruitment and retention

  • Allocations

  • Fitness and nutrition

  • The development of our ERRS Academy that feeds into the Scottish Rugby Transition and Panel Groups

  • The development of our Young Referees’ Academy – working with clubs and schools

  • The continuous development of our coaches

  • Communication and social media

We also enjoy the provision of match kit as well as providing, over the past two seasons, rain jackets and polo shirts from Society funds and, early in 2023, we will provide a second match shirt (that should guarantee a good turn-out at the January meeting!).

The funding from Scottish Rugby comes with some covenants and targets as we’d expect and I thought it would be helpful to understand what those are and our responsibilities as Society members if we are to maintain our strong and positive relationship with Scottish Rugby. These are:

  • ERRS will identify suitable candidates, who might benefit from exposure to higher-profile games outside Scotland. Scottish Rugby will decide on a case-by-case basis if any such candidates are invited forward

  • Scottish Rugby will provide ERRS funding to cover referee travel expenses, based on predicted spend on WTR ERRS will to its best endeavours, provide all referees for games within the Society area in line with Society and Scottish Rugby appointments policy, and ensure all appointments are made via WTR (where appropriate)

  • ERRS will actively encourage referees to complete the following forms on WTR within 24 hours after the final whistle.

  • Score

  • Red/Yellow Cards (required)

  • Report on Coach (applicable)

  • Report on appointed ARs (applicable)

  • ERRS will ensure coaching and reviewer reports are submitted on WTR

  • ERRS educators will be actively involved in the qualification of Referees via delivering of Introduction to Match Officiating course as organised by Scottish Rugby

  • ERRS will actively seek to grow match official numbers, by working collaboratively with Scottish Rugby, clubs and schools, to meet the demands of clubs within the Society area

Therefore, it is critical that we ensure we have full knowledge of availability and that scores and reports are submitted within the requisite timescales.


Please ensure your availability is updated in WhosTheRef as soon as possible so that Iain Goodall knows who he can and cannot appoint to games


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 (07834521519/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!


Monthly Meetings We held our second monthly meeting at Boroughmuir Rugby club in October when Fergus Hollins led an excellent discussion and presentation on running lines. It was great to see so many members there too and we can, hopefully, keep up the numbers for the rest of the year - although I’m under no illusions that the attraction of free kit being handed out superseded the charismatic and entertaining leadership of the President!

Our November meeting will be held at Meggetland (Boroughmuir RFC) on Wednesday, 9th November at 7pm when we will continue our theme of managing and communicating with 'difficult' players when Dr Ian Cunningham will lead us in a session entitled "101 Reasons not to blow your whistle". Again, we hope for a big turnout as the first part of this discussion was a fantastic evening.


Special General Meeting We have called a Special General Meeting on 9th November at 6:30pm (immediately preceding the monthly meeting) to present the draft new constitution.

This updates our current constitution and will again set us up for success off the field in terms of how we manage ERRS.

It is important that each member reads the draft and comes to the meeting.

If you wish to table an amendment to the draft, then please let Colin Thores know (as per WTR message). You will be asked to speak to your amendment and then it will require a seconder before being voted upon.

Only paid-up or life members will be entitled to submit proposed amendments and/or vote.


No proxy votes will be allowed.


ERRS Heritage

We have a rich heritage in Edinburgh Rugby Referees’ Society and many of us are not fully aware of the fantastic veins of talent and contributions we’ve brought to rugby across the world over more than 50 years.

We want to build a heritage section on our website so if you have any material that you think might be of interest to others then let me know. If you’d like to help create the digital archive, then let Brodie Duncan or me know.

We have just published our first part of the Heritage section with a short history of ERRS.


Exchanges We now have an official invite from Netherlands Rugby for 2 refs (one for a youth game & another for a league one game) and a coach to head out for a weekend and we will reciprocate.

We also have dates from the West of Scotland Society for exchanges together with opportunities in the Borders and are in dialogue with Northumberland, Cumbria and County Durham about possible exchanges so there could be some exciting trips ahead for members and we look forward to hosting match officials from our exchange partners.

Graham Newton, Gregor McIntosh and Alex Obreja are running with this programme.


ERRS Annual Dinner This will take place at Teviot Row House, Bristo Square (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.

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

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


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

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


Self-Development We had a great session at Leith Rugby Club on 18th October with Johnny Bacigalupo on scrums and how to set up for success.

This was the first of a few sessions on building knowledge of set pieces and key parts of the game that Graham Newton is pulling together. The next session will be at Leith on 22nd November and the videos from the first session will be sent out via WhatsApp and on our website.


Coaches’ Corner We are well underway with our progression of PVGs for our match official coaches who are likely to work with referees and ARs under the age of 18. Thanks to Ronan for all the work on this. The policy and key documents are now on our website


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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