With several roles to perform during a game, it is vital that the Assistant Referee is appropriately positioned to make accurate decisions.

When determining positioning, the basic principles below should be followed:

Open play - leading and trailing.

Depending on which touch-line the play is moving towards, an Assistant Referee may be leading one moment and then trailing the next. The leading Assistant Referee is on the touchline that play is coming towards, the trailing Assistant Referee is on the touchline that play is moving away from.


The leading Assistant Referee should be in the best position to observe acts of foul play in and around the ball carrier and touch/touch-in-goal on their side of the playing area and play coming towards them.


The trailing Assistant Referee should remain slightly behind play, observing the break up of rucks and mauls, observing for foul play. 

In addition, when a ball is kicked downfield, a trailing Assistant Referee should note the location of where the ball was kicked, in case the ball goes dead or directly into touch. The Referee may need confirmation of this in order to re-start play with a lineout in line from where the ball was kicked, or for the location of a penalty in case of a late charge on the kicker.

A trailing Assistant Referee might remain on this mark and indicate this location when the Referee returns to restart play.

Positioning at the lineout

The Assistant Referee who is on the touchline where the lineout has been formed remains at the line of touch until the ball has been thrown into the lineout.

The Assistant Referee on the opposite side of the pitch should be positioned on the non-thowing-in team's defensive line, 10m back from the line of touch.

Positioning at the scrum

The Assistant Referee who is opposite the Referee should be positioned in line with the tunnel of the scrum.

The Assistant Referee who is behind the Referee should be positioned at the offside line of the non-throwing in team, 5m back from the hindmost foot of the scrum.

The Referee may request different positioning at the scrum depending on circumstances.

Positioning at kicks at goal

The Assistant Referee(s) should move into position behind the posts for a clear view to observe whether a kick at goal has been successful. Each Assistant Referee should stand behind a post for a clear view of the ball, goal posts and crossbar.

Note: For 7-a-side, only one Assistant Referee is required to perform this duty. Some competitions will appoint In-goal Touch Judges for this role.

Positioning around in-goal

This is covered in a following section.