The Dr NRL Referees’ Rules Primer


The poor old referees are copping such a bagging lately that I thought it best to intercede on their behalf.

Which way did that wabbit go ... ?

Which way did that wabbit go … ?

With so much action on the field and so many rules to remember (like which direction a ball needs to travel in order to constitute a knock-on), the referees have lost sight of many of the basics.

I am here to help.

This will not be an outline of the rules I think would make significantly more sense than the ones we currently have. It will merely serve as a little memory jog for our whistle-blowing pinkos (who may be forced to wear ‘Liberal Blue’ from September onwards …).

Here are a few to get started, taken from – RUGBY LEAGUE LAWS OF THE GAME


7. Any other player shall be penalised if he:–

(b) runs in front of one of his own team who is kicking off or dropping out.

… Notwithstanding the fact that the actual offside at the kickoff rule took until the 3rd page of this section to be mentioned, it is the very first play of the game. Please make sure that if Newcastle has 10 kickoffs this week, they are behind the kicker for one of them.


1. The ball is in touch when it or a player in contact with it touches the touch line or the ground beyond the touch line or any object on or outside the touch line except when a player, tackled in the field of play, steps into touch as he regains his feet in which case he shall play-the-ball in the field of play.

… so when a Broncos player puts his hand outside the sideline as he gets up to place the ball, please remember not to penalise the Parramatta team next time. You may also like to call the touch judge a muppet for putting his flag up as you allow play to proceed without interruption.


1. A player shall be penalised if he deliberately knocks on or passes forward.

… Note to self: stop giving Shaun Johnson tries when he taps the ball 3 metres forward over a defender’s head.


10. The play-the-ball shall operate as follows.

(a) The tackled player shall be immediately released and shall not be touched until the ball is in play.
(b) The tackled player shall without delay regain his feet where he was tackled, lift the ball clear of the ground, face his opponent’s goal line and place the ball on the ground in front of his foremost foot.

… I shall not … blow a penalty against the marker when the player who plays the ball walks forward past him while in the act of playing the ball.


1. A player is guilty of misconduct if he:

(b) when effecting or attempting to effect a tackle makes contact with the head or neck of an opponent intentionally, recklessly or carelessly.

(d) uses any dangerous throw when effecting a tackle.

(f) uses offensive or obscene language.

(g) disputes a decision of the Referee or Touch Judge.

(i) behaves in any way contrary to the true spirit of the game.

(k) uses a shoulder charge on an opponent

Let me clarify Johnathan ... does f... f... f... you mean you don't agree with the decision?

Let me clarify Johnathan … does f… f… f…ing f… you f…ing f….er mean you don’t agree with the decision?

… these examples are a subset of the longer list, but they are constantly overlooked. So next time Johnathan Thurston sets a new world record for f-bombs sprayed in your general direction (marquee as he may be), Jamie Lyon reprises his beloved high school debating days with you (marquee as he may be), or Billy Slater lays on yet another shoulder charge (marquee as he may be), then you will know what to do.

Please be mindful of consistency on point (b), mmm’kay?

Oh, and good luck with the ‘behaving in any way contrary to the true spirit of the game’ thingee.

ps. A dangerous throw probably does include driving the ball carrier’s head into the ground in like, you know, a spear-type motion, kind of thing. Maybe look out for that …


6. In the event of misconduct by a player, the Referee shall, at his discretion, caution, temporarily suspend for ten minutes, or dismiss the offender.

Every breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, I'll be watchin' you ...

Every breath you take, every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watchin’ you …

… and the awesome news you weren’t expecting, or had likely forgotten – again – you can actually sin bin a player for misconduct that includes any of the above (plus the rest).

How about that?

Forewarned is forearmed.

So refs … Off you go into the Round 10 sunset and make me proud!


2 thoughts on “The Dr NRL Referees’ Rules Primer

  1. Pinko effort from the Doctor. Behaviour contrary to the true spirit of the game includes NOT dropping F-Bombs, NOT disputing referees decisions, and NOT using offensive or obscene language. We don’t want it to turn into union mate!

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