Signal nature of offence 1. When the Referee is required to give a decision he shall whenever possible indicate the nature of his decision by making the appropriate signal.

Indicate how play restarts 2. When he wishes to stop the game temporarily, he shall, after blowing his whistle, indicate the nature of the decision, point to the offending player and then signal as to how the game is to be restarted.

Example For example if the scrum half puts the ball into his own side of the scrum the referee:

(1) blows his whistle and indicates the scrum half has put the ball in wrongly.

(2) points to the offending scrum half and then

(3) signals that a penalty has been given.

The Referee can, with advantage, repeat the signal indicating the nature of the offence in order to reduce the need for verbal explanations to the players. This applies particularly to scrum offences where some of the forwards may miss the first signal if they still have their heads down in the scrum.


The signals to be given by a Referee are set out below.

Scrum. With bent arms, palms of hands facing each other at shoulder level, fingers together and slightly bent, bring the tops of the fingers together with a slight downward movement and then point to the team awarded the loose head and put-in.

Penalty Kick. Face the non-offending team and extend an arm forward with the hand slightly higher than the shoulder level and the palm of the hand at right angles to the ground.

Differential Penalty. Extend the arm as for an ordinary penalty then move the arm to the upright position. Perform this action twice with the whole movement being continuous and decisive.

Drop-out. Point to the place from which the drop kick is to be taken.


Try. Point to where try is awarded. Instruct the Touch Judge to stand on this point temporarily as a guide to the player who is to take the goal kick.

Penalty Try. Point to midway between the posts and take up position temporarily on this point as a guide to the kicker.

Eight Point Try. This term is used to indicate that a penalty kick has been awarded for foul play against a try scorer. Instruct a Touch Judge to take up position in front of the posts ten metres from the goal line before retiring behind the goal posts to judge on the conversion attempt.

Goal. Raise hand above head.


Try disallowed. Wave hands, palms facing downwards across and in front of the body below the waist.

Play on. Wave the hands chest high palms facing away from the chest across and in front of the body.

Ball touched in flight. Raise one hand above the head and tap the tips of the fingers with the fingers of the other hand.

Count of Tackles is cancelled. Raise clenched fist above head and wave from side to side.

Player “held” and to play the ball. Indicate that players not concerned with the play-the-ball must retire by making a signal chest-high, similar to the breast stroke in swimming.


Signals which may be used by a Touch Judge and which are not included in Para. 3 above are:–

Touch. Flag is raised about the head at the point of entry into touch..

Ball Back. Flag waved above head accentuating backward movement.

Touch in-Goal. Flag waved across the body, below the waist, and, with the other hand, point to either the goal line or 20 metre line depending on where play should be restarted. Do not point to the player who made the ball dead.

Successful Kick at Goal. Raise flag above head.

Unsuccessful Kick at Goal. Wave flag across and in front of the body below the waist. If the ball goes over the dead ball line, tap the ground with the end of the flag stick.

Dead Ball Line. Wave flag up and down between shoulder and knee and then point to appropriate restart position.


1. Knock-on. With hands in front of the body, below the waist, slightly apart, palms facing forward and fingers pointing towards the ground, make two or three forward movements of the hands.

2. Forward Pass. Make a forward movement with the straight arm indicating the line o

f flight of the ball.

Scrum 3. Scrum half feeds “own feet”. With hands and arms mime the action of the scrum half putting the ball into the scrum, but exaggerate the angle at which it was thrown.

4. Scrum half “dummies”. Mime the action of the scrum half but emphasise the backward motion of the hands.

5. Scrum half fails to retire. Make a movement with the hand indicating the direction the scrum half should have taken.

6. Scrum half throws the ball upwards into the scrum. Mime the action of the scrum half exaggerating the upward movement of the hands.

7. Hooker strikes prematurely. Raise a foot from the ground in front of the body with the leg straight.

8. Hooker packs with a Loose Arm. Raise one arm sideways with elbow bent so that the hand hangs downwards.

9. Prop strikes for the ball. Raise a foot from the ground by extending the leg sideways from the body.

10. Handling in the scrum. Make a backward scooping action with the hand.

11. Collapsing the scrum. Make a lifting motion with the hand.

12. More than seven backs. Point to one of the players who is detached from the scrum and who normally is in the pack and then hold up seven fingers.

13. More than six players pushing in the scrum. Point to the player who is pushing and who is not normally in the scrum and then hold up six fingers.

Play-the-ball 14. Tackled player delays regaining his feet. Flick the hand in an upward direction.

15. Tackled player ‘dummies’ when dropping the ball. Mime the action of the offending player exaggerating the upward direction.

16. Tackled player fails to drop the ball correctly. If the ball has been dropped between the legs indicate the path of the ball. If the ball has been dropped to the side, point with one hand to the side.

17. Tackled player does not lift the ball clear of ground. Make a lifting movement with the hand.

18. Tackled player does not face opponents’ in-goal. Stand at the angle offending player adopted and then turn to face the opponents’ in-goal.

19. Tackled player fails to play the ball backwards or passes when he should have played the ball. Mime the gesture of playing the ball.

20. Tackled player obstructs or butts with his head after playing the ball. Mime his action.

21. Voluntary tackle. Make a lifting movement with hand.

22. The player marking the tackled player kicks or heels the ball. Make a kicking movement with the foot.

23. Player marking retains his hold on player playing the ball. Make a decisive backward movement with one hand. This signal applies to any interference by the player marking when the ball is actually being played other than kicking prematurely or dangerously (paragraph 22 above).

24. Tackler delays releasing tackled player. Make a downward movement with the hands in front of the body below the waist.

25. Off side at play-the-ball. With a backward movement of the hand indicate that the player should be further back.

26. Stealing of the ball from the tackled player. Mime the action of snatching the ball from the opponent.

27. Dragging tackled player after tackle is effective. Mime the action of dragging.

28. Team is tackled five successive times. Raise arm vertically above head with fingers and thumb outstretched.

29. Team is tackled six successive times. Blow the whistle, raise the arm vertically above the head, then point to the side which is to gain possession and mime the gesture of playing the ball. The surrendering of the ball is referred to as the ‘handover’.

30. Count of tackle is cancelled and starts again. Wave clenched fist from side to side above head.

Drop-out or Penalty 31. Kicker fails to bring foot into contact with the ball. Tap the foot with one hand.

Other Infringements 32. Off side. Indicate player should have been further back. (See No. 25).

33. Player in possession touches official. Point to the player in possession and tap the chest with one hand.

34. Obstruction. Mime the offending player’s action.

35. Tripping. Extend one foot forward as if to trip.

36. Stiff arm tackle. Raise an arm in front of the body with fist clenched and as the arm is moved forward tap the forearm with the other hand.

37. Disputing decisions. Place one hand on the mouth.

38. Ball in Touch. Point to appropriate Touch Judge.

39. Extra time. Raise both arms vertically above head.

40. Ending Extra Time for Stoppage. Wave one arm over head.

41. Temporary Suspension of a Player. Raise both arms with fingers outstretched for ten minutes suspension.

42. Player directed to leave the field to receive attention for bleeding. Draw the hand across the chest from side to side.

Touch Judge signals 43. The Touch Judge cannot stop the play for any infringement but he may signal the nature of an infringement if the Referee is unsighted and seeks his guidance.