Community Referee of the Season – Don Burns

Following their presentation at Scottish Gas Murrayfield on Saturday 9 March, the 2024 Scottish Rugby Community Recognition Award winners for the Caledonia Midlands region have today been announced.

The Community Recognition Awards are Scottish Rugby’s annual domestic game awards programme, focusing on the on and off-field efforts of clubs and schools across Scotland over the course of the season.

Award winners were announced for six categories including; Volunteer of the Season in Youth rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Schools rugby sponsored by inspiresport, Volunteer of the Season in Adult rugby, Young Person’s Award, Community Club of the Season, and the Community Referee of the Season.

Community Referee of the Season – Don Burns

Don has been part of the Midlands Referee Society for over forty years, taking on a variety of roles during this time including Secretary, Coaching Co-Ordinator, Vice-President, President, and his current role as Treasurer. He also serves as Treasurer for the Scottish Rugby Referees Association (SRRA), As well as his work for the SRRA, Don is also Treasurer for the Caledonia Referee allocation expenses and in doing so serves all the Caledonia Societies. These are often jobs which fly under the radar but are pivotal to the daily running of clubs and regions alike.

Don has never sought recognition for his work, despite showing incredible commitment to the cause of rugby refereeing. His will to help guide both young and experienced referees has not gone unnoticed in his community, most of which he does unprompted. His background work which he does for refereeing benefits not only the refereeing aspect of the game but the whole game in general.

Rugby in the Caledonia Midlands area has greatly benefitted from Don’s invaluable work.

“Don’s passion for the game is second to none. He works away in the background in many facets of the game for refereeing and at club level. He is always on hand to guide new referees (and the oldies as well) without any invitation. He is quiet and unassuming about what he does for referees and rugby in general”- Ben Evans.

Content republished from original source here:

Reporting Matches with Uncontested Scrums

Should any match start with uncontested scrums, or if a match has to go to uncontested scrums at any point during the game, Match Officials are required to submit a form to Scottish Rugby to report this and the circumstances in which it occurred.

The form below is an Editable PDF, which allows you to enter the details into the various form fields.
To fill it in, please first download the PDF to your computer. Once downloaded, open with Adobe Acrobat Reader.
You can then click into the fields and enter the required details.
Once all the details have been entered, you can save this form as a new file, ready to be submitted (we suggest you give it a meaningful file name – date and/or fixture details).

The form should be completed within 48 hours of the end of the match, and sent to Neil Crooks at Scottish Rugby (

Protocols for Match Officials 2023

 The following protocols have been drawn up by Scottish Rugby, to ensure that rugby in Scotland receives the best service possible from Match Officials at all levels. 

Each Match Official agrees that: 

1. They will contact the home club at least 48 hours before the match should the Referees Secretary of that club fail to make contact. 

2. They will make every effort to conform to the Laws of the Game, approved Law Variations, current guidelines and protocols. 

3. They will be physically prepared to act as a Match Official. If there is any doubt they should not undertake any such appointments until they have fully recovered. 

4. If verbal abuse or other misconduct from a coach or other club official is such that it would have resulted in a red card had it occurred on the field of play, the referee shall formally caution the individual and require them to leave the Playing Enclosure. This should be done without brandishing a card. The referee shall then submit a report to the Scottish Rugby/ Society Discipline Manager using The Discipline Manager shall consider any such report and refer it to a Disciplinary Committee as appropriate. In all other cases i.e. where the referee considers the conduct to be abusive but not equivalent to a red card offence, the referee shall record the details of the incident and report it to the Referee Society Discipline Manager or their nominated deputy. 

Championship Matches: 

5. They will enter details on website of the score, yellow and red card forms within 48 hours of completion of the match. 

6. They will conduct themselves in an orderly and respectable manner, and they will maintain a tidy appearance while representing Scottish Rugby and/or their Referee Society. 

7. They will make every effort to attend post-match functions. 

8. They will keep the Scottish Rugby Match Official Department and their Referee Society regularly informed of any changes to their personal contact details. 

9. They will not engage in conduct, behaviour or practices which may bring Scottish Rugby or the game of rugby football into disrepute. 

RugbyRight Course 2023/2024

Scottish Rugby has today launched the RugbyRight course for the 2023/24 season with the inclusion of a brand-new concussion module developed by Scottish Rugby’s Welfare Manager, Dr Karen Barclay.

The course is comprised of three modules and can be accessed via the SCRUMS platform.

  • RugbyRight: Concussion Education
  • RugbyRight: Tackle Height
  • RugbyRight: Safeguarding

RugbyRight forms the minimum standard for coaching and match officiating in Scotland and, for 2023/24, must be completed by all coaches and match officials.

For more information, visit:

SRU Season Kick Off Tackle Height Webinar

The SRU are running a Season Kick Off Tackle Height Webinar on 31st July 7-8pm

“As the new season approaches, join us for this 1 hour webinar where we’ll update coaches and match officials on what the new Tackle Height Law Trials will entail, whilst also looking at how coaching ideas to help players adapt to the new changes.”

Sign up via SCRUMS –

(To find it on SCRUMS: Click Menu Icon > Browse Courses > Scroll down to Other Training > Season Kick Off Tackle Height Webinar)

Tackle Height Law Trials

Following consultation with community rugby stakeholders, Scottish Rugby’s Club Rugby Board (CRB) has approved a lower tackle height law trial for implementation across the community game, from the start of the 2023/24 season (live from July 1st 2023).

The law trial, will now see tackle height reduced from shoulder height to below the sternum, also known as ‘belly tackle’ height, in both gender categories of adult and youth rugby at the domestic level (Tennent’s Premiership and below).

The move to lower the tackle height follows World Rugby endorsed trials conducted in France and South Africa, where lowering the tackle height has been shown to reduce the number of head-on-head contacts and concussions.

Lowering the tackle height has also shown positive outcomes regarding increased ball-in-play time and offloading. The changes have also helped to increase player participation in France.

The new law trials which have been approved by the CRB are:

  • Maximum height tackle in initial contact must be below the sternum
  • The second tackler is still permitted, but the player must make initial contact below the sternum
  • There will be no change to the current laws regarding the ball carrier, but reckless play will be sanctioned (eg. leading with head) where the ball carrier put themselves or the defender at risk of a head-on-head contact

There will be no change to the current laws regarding a ‘pick and go’ scenario.

To support the implementation of the law trials, Scottish Rugby has created a ‘Tackle Height Hub’ to host a suite of video and written resources on the changes.

Tackle Height Law Trial PDF

Decision Making Framework

Head Contact Process PDF

Upcoming “Introduction to Match Officiating” course

Interested in becoming a referee? Want to give back to the game?

The next local “Introduction to Match Officiating” course is running in a couple of weeks.
It’s free to attend, so why not sign up and give it a go?

📆 Wed 29th March
⏰ 6:00pm to 9:00pm
📍 Howe of Fife RFC
(you will need to sign up to SCRUMS to view/book the course)

– some online work is required, prior to attending the practical, details given once you have signed up.
– must be minimum 15 years of age

Need more Info:…/training…/match-officials/

Still need help? – Send us a message here.

Side Entry

Ahead of the new season, World Rugby has released guidelines around ‘side entry’. 
See link below for full details:

Excerpt from the guidelines:
In March 2020, a Law Application was published covering the whole of the breakdown.

At its heart, the principle was established “That the breakdown is coached according to the spirit of the laws, is played in a positive and accurate manner and is refereed consistently.”

On the whole, the coaching, playing and refereeing application has seen a cleaner, safer breakdown, especially aligned with the 2021 global law trials around protecting the lower limbs of the jackler, permitting the 1-man latch but outlawing the flying wedge of 2+ players pre-latched which have now been moved into full law.

However, feedback from players and coaches suggests one element needs renewed focus – side entry by both attacking and defending players.

There still remains injuries to the lower limbs due to the angles and speed of arriving players and there has also been a range of subtle, yet potentially dangerous injury when it comes to players being tipped within the breakdown.

We are therefore asking officials across the game to have a stricter focus and application of current guidelines and law with regards to direction and angle of arriving players at the breakdown, ruck and maul.

The key message is that players “square up” to enter the breakdown/ruck.