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  1. Complete Prerequisites – free

  2. Sign up for L1 ref class – $75 + cost of USA Rugby membership

  3. Decide if you want to join a referee society – cost will vary by society

  4. Register as a referee with USA Rugby – $15 background check fee (if your current membership doesn’t include one)

  5. Complete USAR referee requirements – free

  6. Learning and applying the law – varies by course

General Information & Costs
How to Become a Referee


Students must complete three World Rugby (WR) online modules.

  1. Register with WR on the Passport website.

  2. Take the online courses

  3. Download the certificate you will receive from WR and email it to where it will be uploaded into your USA Rugby member profile. 


USA Rugby will add the certificates to your WebPoint Profile within 1 business day and then you will be able to register for the Level 1 Referee Course. 


You must have a current USA Rugby membership to sign up for a course:

A Level 1 certificate is required for any referee to officiate a contact match sanctioned by USA Rugby. To earn the L1 certification, take the Level 1 Officiating course (USA Rugby’s entry-level referee course). The class will take about 5-6 hours and will be taught by a certified WR educator. The class is primarily field based, you will be moving around and learning whistle and positioning techniques. Dress for outdoor weather and activity. Bring water and any snacks you might need. Lunch is provided.
Look closely at the dates. There are cut-offs for registration and if you are not registered by a certain time, you may be able to take the course, but you will not receive the course materials (lawbook, whistle, ref cards). There will also be a hard stop to registration prior to the course. Courses are routinely canceled if they do not have a minimum number of participants - consider having a friend sign up too!
If there are no courses in your area, you may consider setting up a course, especially one tied to a sevens tournament. This is a great way to quickly apply what you have learned and meet referees (your new team).


List of Local Referee Societies

  • Find your LRO on the list and contact to find out what the process for membership entails for that society.

Benefits of Joining an LRO:

  • Scheduling and allocations

    • Referee societies have an allocations officer who handles all of the match scheduling for you. Based on the need for referees in your area, you will be matched to games that fit your ability level, schedule and travel requirements.  

  • Reimbursement of fees and expenses

    • If you receive a match fee for your services or reimbursement for mileage, a referee society handles this negotiation between you and the team. Expectations are clear from the beginning and you know what you should receive for your services. Some use online payment and in other regions you may get a check directly from the team.

  • Insurance and liability

    • USA Rugby insurance and liability is difficult to understand. Some referee societies cover members with an additional insurance specific to match officials. Referee societies do always monitor clubs that they are assigning and referees they assign for compliance with USAR membership to mitigate any insurance issues that could arise from lapsed or incomplete membership.

  • Ongoing Education

    • Referee Societies have processes in place for education and development of their members. This may include a Rugby Development Officer or an Education officer. Most societies will cover the cost of your additional education classes with USAR or WR as you advance in your career. Many societies have Referee Coaches who will come to your first several matches to make sure that you get started on a positive note and have support. Referee coaches are generally available throughout your career to help you with development. The goal of all of these roles and programs is to help ensure that your officiating gets better as you go and that you referee to the same standard as other refs.

  • Exchanges

    • Referee societies have contacts throughout the world. Most societies offer members the chance to go to another society in the USA to referee once a year, all expenses covered. Many societies also offer international exchanges, but these are much more limited due to the cost. If you happen to be in a different area and want to referee, your society can usually get you matches through their contacts.

  • Mentorship

    • Local referee societies provide a built in network through which you can find a mentor​. While there is a lot to be learned through written resources, how to apply it can only be learned through on-field experience. Finding someone who is willing to share their experiences with you and help you process your own on an ongoing basis is one of the greatest benefits of a referee society. 




  • To register, follow the Membership prompts on the USA Rugby website, as shown in these instructions.

  • Dual enrollment is used when you want to be a player/ref or a coach/ref.

Problems or questions? Email


  • For your membership status to be current you must pass the background check.

  • You must also complete Safesport training.


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