Referee's Resources


Refereeing Signals

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.

Game Time


The pre game procedures cover everything the referee needs to do prior to the start of a game. Being prepared for a game is of paramount importance and as such these procedures should never be omitted.

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. THE TOSS – 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.


Communication by a referee on 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-meter 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 off side 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 re 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.)
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, complete and submit an incident report sheet [include link to Disciplinary Procedures].
4. Always stretch and cool down after a game.



Referee abuse is any comment, gesture or behaviour that is either offensive, indicates disagreement with a decision or puts in doubt the referee’s impartiality. Abuse has no place in our sport. Ever.

Example of abuse are:

– Players loudly and openly disputing decisions
– Players calling for decisions, e.g. a defender calling a pass forward, or an attacker claiming the defender was offside
– Many players running towards the referee, for whatever reason
– Players disagreeing with an explanation given by a referee after a ruling
– Swearing, even if not directed at the referee
– Insulting the referee, even if not directed at the referee

This does NOT mean that players should never talk to the referee, as referees should always be open and approachable. A player can politely ask a referee for clarification on a ruling, to which the referee should answer clearly and concisely. If the player understands the explanation (whether they agree or not!), that’s it and play continues. There is no time for a debate or discussion.

Abuse is the number one reason why referees leave our sport, which is why every participant (referees, players and spectators) needs to deal with it immediately. If you witness abuse, please talk to the tournament organiser or a senior referee immediately. Alternatively, contact the National Referee Managers at or complete the abuse report form, which can be done anonymously.