All active society members hold a grading level that corresponds to the league and cup competition structures defined by the Rugby Football Union (RFU) in England.

The referee’s level is used to guide the competitions that an individual is capable of officiating at. However, the society has the right to, and will, appoint referees to matches above (in certain circumstances) and below their graded levels, dependent on factors including:

  • The progression path of the referee

    • It is common for a developing referee to be tested at a level higher than their current grading for assessment purposes

  • The nature and circumstances of any individual match

    • It is common for a referee from a level above to officiate games with significant importance at a level below. For example, promotion play-offs, cup finals or local derbies

  • Referee availability

A referee’s level is, ordinarily, the highest level at which they will referee. Dependent on the volume of fixtures and the future potential of a referee, they may frequently referee at a level lower than their grading.


At Levels 7 and 6, grading is effected by the society’s Appointments and Grading (A&G) Committee, who are required to consider and approve the grading of referees at these levels. The A&G Committee regulate the membership of the Premier List and the nomination of referees for promotion to the RFU’s London and South East Group (SEG) for appointment to Level 5 (or higher) matches.

At Levels 8 and below, referee regrading is managed within the individual’s home region, but overseen by the A&G Committee (to whom the individual should, in case of issues, raise concerns as required).

The volume and nature of supporting evidence regarding regrading decisions varies dependent on the referee’s current level. For example, within region promotions require a lower threshold of evidence compared to Premier List promotions. A detailed criteria for supporting evidence at different levels is provided below, but in all scenarios, will take the form of one, or many, of:

  • Coaching reports

  • In region assessments

  • Inter-region assessments

  • Society exchange assessments

  • Fitness assessments

  • Club report cards

    • For the avoidance of doubt, these are used to influence any requirement to consider a formal assessment and shall not be the only basis on which a regrading decision is made.

The timings of regrading decisions will also vary depending on the referee’s level.

In region at the lower levels, regrading decisions can be made on an ad-hoc basis, providing the necessary supporting evidence is present. At the higher regional and Premier List levels, regrading decisions are discussed and approved by the relevant committees on a twice yearly basis in December and June.

Supporting Evidence Criteria


English League Structure

LSRFUR referee grading aligns with the current English league structure, in line with grading by societies across the country. This follows a hierarchical pyramid structure, with the total number of competitions increasing in number at each level.

The highest level (1) is the English Premiership. The RFU Championship (Level 2) and National 1 (Level 3) are the only other fully national leagues, with regional national leagues (Levels 4 - 5) below. The 8 individual Level 6 regional leagues connect to the national leagues via promotion and relegation, with levels 7 through 12 completing the regional structure.

All appointments at Level 5 and above are completed by the RFU. LSRFUR as a society appoints at Levels 6 and below.

The diagram below provides a schematic overview of this structure and the 1st XV league competitions covered by LSRFUR.


Other competitions and Level Grading

The RFU Levels pyramid outlined above covers most 1st XV (and at a county league level, 2nd XV and below) men’s league rugby. However, LSRFUR also appoints to a significant number of matches that fall outside of these classifications, including:

  • Merit Table league and community rugby

  • Women’s league and cup rugby

  • School and Junior club rugby

  • RFU and County Cup competitions

  • Representative fixtures

In all scenarios, an appropriate level is assigned by the society (or RFU) to a fixture to guide the society’s appointments teams in appointing a suitable official.