Competitions Code of Conduct

Unfortunately, there have been incidents in Oxfordshire rugby which require the County Competitions Committee to remind players, coaches, and spectators of their responsibilities to the game and each other.


  1. One or more crowd barriers must be erected before each county game by the home team. Ideally placed 5m from the pitch but, where space prevents this, a minimum of 2m is acceptable. A technical area must be marked (e.g., with cones) for the coaches for each team. The coaching staff must stay within their technical area unless agreed with the referee.
  2. Spectators must remain behind the barrier from the start of the match to the final whistle (this includes half time if the referee is on the pitch or near the side lines). Standing behind the dead ball line is also acceptable if players have sufficient space to ensure their safety.
  3. Coaches (unless running touch) must not encroach on the pitch without the express permission of the referee. In the event of a serious injury (not seen by the referee) the coach may enter the pitch to aid the player and call the attention of the referee to it.
  4. Replacement players must be at least 0.5 metres (and ideally more) away from the sideline so as not to impede the person running touch.
  5. The only people who are allowed to be on the pitch are:
    1. The match official(s) and players.
    2. Senior club officials, competition organisers or the board members of ORFU in support of the game (not normally during play).
    3. Designated first aiders (pre-informed to the referee).
  6. Photography must be performed in a safe manner. Where permitted by club and RFU safeguarding regulations a single photographer (from each team) may stand on the pitch side of the barrier. They must not use a tripod (monopod is OK) due to the risk of injury. Tripod mounted video cameras may only be used when safely positioned away from the risk of contact with a player.
  7. Our match officials are all volunteers and often under 18. They are not to be approached by spectators at any time whist officiating (this includes half time) although post-match positive feedback is encouraged. If a spectator has any concern about the conduct of the match this should be referred to the coach or administrator of the team that they are supporting. The coach/admin can then raise this as appropriate. Should a spectator choose to ignore this point then, in the case of an under 18-year-old match official, this immediately becomes a reportable safeguarding issue.
  8. Players, coaches, and spectators should conduct themselves respectfully before, during and after the match. Positive feedback to players and officials is welcome but continual calls of (for example) “knock on”, “offside”, “how much have you been paid ref?” are unhelpful and do not reflect rugby core values. If said by a player or coach the match official should take such action as allowed within the laws of Rugby. If said by a spectator, then the match official (or county official if present) will stop the game and request that the appropriate coach deals with the issue. If spectator misconduct continues the offending teams coach shall be warned that they risk forfeiting the match. Should nothing change, the match shall be abandoned at that point by the referee and the reason documented in a match report.
  9. For clarity, the referee will not review spectator “video evidence” either during or after the match. If there is something of concern it should be raised via club safeguarding/disciplinary procedures.
  10. The maximum sanction for infringing this code of conduct will be a 42-0 loss for the infringing team and/or expulsion from the county cup as decided by the CCC after reading the match report.