London Society of Rugby Football Union Referees
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About Us

Our Mission

To demonstrate excellence and take pride in everything we do ​

​- To be recognised for the quality and professionalism of all aspects of our referees
- To be committed to continually developing and enhancing the skills of our members
- To motivate and coach our referees to become our most valuable ambassadors
- To be recognised as the pre-eminent refereeing society in the UK​




The London Society - a brief history

The London Society was formed at a meeting held on the 30th September 1889, under the Chairmanship of the then President of the RFU, Mr A. Budd. The proposal to create a referees' society was well received by London clubs and within five years, the number of refereeing appointments to clubs during the season had reached 652.

George Harnett became Hon. Secretary of the Society in 1897/98; a year later he took on the additional office of Hon. Treasurer and held both these positions until 1911. His personality and drive carried the Society through a period when member clubs became more exacting in their requirements and more critical of the capabilities of referees. Membership remained fairly static for the first decade of the Society's existence but by 1910/11 had reached 107 referees and the appointments in the season exceeded 1000.

Mr H. A. Taylor succeeded George Harnett as Secretary/Treasurer in 1911 and two years later Arthur Trollope was elected to the office of Secretary, with Taylor continuing as Treasurer. The Society, then, as now, was fortunate to be administered by enthusiastic, hard-working and long-serving officers, especially Arthur Trollope who continued in office until 1947.

Nearly all rugby football, other than in schools and the Services, closed down during the Great War of 1914 - 1918. The Society continued to find referees for most of the games played in the London area, notwithstanding the fact that the majority of pre-war members were serving in the Forces.

About 50 members attended the AGM on 14th October 1919, the first meeting for five seasons. Over the next few years, activities resumed at an increased pace, with appointments reaching 2000 in 1922/23 and 3000 by 1925/26 when, for the first time, over 100 referees were supplied on a single Saturday.

Rugby activities once again came to a halt with the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939. A considerable number of London clubs carried on somehow and the Society managed to provide them with officials, even though only about 80 members were available. Difficulties increased as the war progressed: the number of available referees was halved, telephone and postal services were chaotic and fixtures and officials had to be arranged week by week. Subscription income from the clubs dropped alarmingly but, happily, prudent pre-war financial management had created sufficient reserves to enable the Society to remain operational. Much is owed to Arthur Trollope and his wife, who somehow managed to keep the Society together during this testing time.

When peace returned, rugby, both for the clubs and the Society, gradually returned to normal, although it was a slow process. In the first post war season, only eight active referees were available, but great efforts were made in recruitment and by the end of 1946/47 the number had grown to 130. Much reorganisation was necessary but a year later 66 new referees had been recruited and the number of appointments during the season had risen to 3036.

The format of the Society handbook was revised and updated and in 1948/49 a Handbook was published containing, for the first time, a list of all the member clubs and full travelling directions to their grounds.

The game of Rugby Football spread widely following the Second World War and the London Society found itself being called upon to give advice and guidance to other societies all over the world. Societies were also being founded in areas adjacent to London and London members took a leading part in their creation and management.

The work of the Society doubled over the next 20 years: appointments in 1947/48 were around 3000, the next season 4,334, over 5000 in 1959/60 and five years later the 7000 mark was achieved. Increased work loads, numbers of clubs and RFU demands have necessitated administrative restructuring of the Society's management from time to time and perhaps two of the more recent reorganisations should be noted.

In 1977/78 the "Lamb Report" by Air Vice Marshall G C Lamb was presented to the Society. While most of the recommendations contained in the report were introduced at one time or another, the Society remained a single autonomous unit. It was not until October 1995 that John Raywood's "Review Working Group Report", an initiative inspired by J A Trigg (President 1995-98), recommended that while the Society should remain one united Referees Society, it should be structured on the basis of four semi-autonomous regions. This review, with minor amendments, forms the basis of the present day structure of the Society.

In the 1980s, a great deal of attention was given to the grading and assessing of referees and three Society members were among the first group of national assessors appointed by the RFU in 1982. The Society organised an Assessors Conference for Societies in the South and South-east of England in 1983 which paved the way for a national conference in 1984.



Past Presidents

Sir Rowland Hill (dec) 1889 - 1928 Vice Admiral Sir Percy Royds (dec) KBE CB CMG (dec) 1928 - 1955
A E Dodridge (dec) 1955 C H Gadney MBE (dec) 1955 - 1969
M H R King CBE 1969 - 1973 E G W Wood (dec) 1973 - 1979
A J Wright (dec) 1979 - 1982 R F Johnson 1982 - 1986
R A B Crowe OBE 1986 - 1989 M J Foxwell 1989 - 1992
D O Spyer 1992 - 1995 J A F Trigg 1995 - 1998
J B Kane 1998 - 2001 A S Mansell 2001 - 2004
C Nicholas 2004 - 2007 T Miller 2007 - 2011
N Cousins 2011 - 2015  

International Referees

J G Bott 1932 - 1934 B S Cumberledge 1932 - 1934
H L V Day 1932 - 1937 J Hughes 1933 - 1935
W W Wakefield 1934 - 1937 C H Gadney 1935 - 1939 & 1946 - 1948
R B Hunt 1935 - 1938 J Lawson 1937/38
T N Pearce 1947 - 1953 H G Lathwell 1948/49
P F Cooper 1951 - 1957 T E Priest 1953/54
L M Boundy 1954 - 1961 M H R King 1960 - 1962
F R Lovis 1966 - 1968 G C Lamb 1967 - 1972
K John 1968 R F Johnson 1968 - 1976
N R Sanson (Scotland) 1973 - 1979 R C Quittenton 1976 - 1989
C Thomas (Wales) 1978 - 1980 J A F Trigg 1981 - 1984
W Barnes 2006 - Present J.P. Doyle 2013 - Present
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