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Coaching Match Officials

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One of the most important roles within our club is to make our people better at what they do, whether that is refereeing or coaching referees.The G.R.O.W. Model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring coaching conversations and written reports. As a coach, when you arm yourself with this proven technique you unlock the athlete's ability to grow not only as a referee but also as a person.

As a referee, when you arm yourself with this proven technique you become the master of your own destiny. You are able to OWN your own growth and development.

The G.R.O.W. Model was originally developed in the 1980's by business coaches Graham Alexander, Alan Fine and Sir John Whitmore.

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A good way of thinking about the G.R.O.W Model is to think about how you'd plan a journey.

G. First, you decide where you are going (the goal),
R. You establish where you currently are (your current reality),
O. You then explore various routes (the options) to your destination and
W. In the final step, (way forward), you ensure that you're committed to making the journey, and are prepared for the obstacles that you could meet on the way.

In previous models of referee coaching, the coach would observe the referee during a match, sometimes without the referee even aware that they were being observed. No communication between the referee and referee coach had occurred prior to the match, so chances are, the referee had set no goals for the match, or if they had, these weren't communicated to the referee coach.

Using the G.R.O.W Model the referee is FRONT AND CENTRE of the entire process.



A day or two prior to the game, the referee shares their goals via a conversation or an email with their appointed referee coach. This step should be initiated BY THE REFEREE. If the coach doesn't know the referee's goals for the match,then the process should stop.

Referee Coach

Upon receipt of the referee's goals, the referee coach should confirm their attendance at the match, or if there's going to be a video available, advise if they are going to conduct a review from the video.

During the match, the referee coach observes the referee, concentrating ONLY on the referee's goals and any moments of brilliance (M.O.B's) and moments of stuff ups (M.O.S.U's), gather evidence (time references) and take notes. These notes will trigger the coach's questions that they will ask after the game.

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NOTE: In previous models of coaching, the referee and the referee coach would have a conversation almost immediately after the referee walked off the field or in the club rooms after the game. The G.R.O.W model requires both parties to have time to reflect for some time (24-48 hours) before meeting to discuss the game. During this time, the referee is afforded the opportunity to download their thoughts and feelings on the game, around the goals, make notes on examples of situations and be prepared for when the G.R.O.W model conversation is had with the referee coach.

Both the referee and the referee coach should agree to a time to meet (in person or over the phone) to discuss the game.

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The referee coach questions the referee around their understanding of their reality of their performance, based on their goals. The referee coach seeks the referee's views/feelings to see what self-awareness they have.

- ask questions without judging
- listen to understand (not to provide solutions) take notes
- coach connects to the referee and vice versa
- remove interference and build confidence

During this process, the referee coach repeats back to the referee what they're hearing (paraphrasing) and continues by asking, "AND WHAT ELSE?" This continues until the referee and the referee coach have fully explored in depth the referee's understanding of their reality.


Once both parties are comfortable that clarity has been achieved on the referee's understanding of their reality from the match, the conversation turns to exploring all possible options. Again, through questioning, the referee coach draws out of the referee what options could the referee employ the next time they referee.

The referee coach listens and repeats back to the referee (paraphrasing).

Again this step is continued until all possible options are fully explored and examined.

Depending on the experience of the referee, there may need to be some "instructional" assistance provided to the referee by the referee coach. This should only be used as a last resort, if during the conversation it's clear that the referee cannot provide any tangible options to move themselves forward.

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The final step in the G.R.O.W model of coaching is for the referee to commit to what they will actually do next time they referee.

Here the referee and referee coach agree on one, two or three "work ons" for their next game, including:

- what they're going to do,
- how they're going to do it,
- why they've chosen that course of action,
- how this work on can be measured
- any possible obstacles that will need to be overcome.


Once the G.R.O.W model conversation has finished between the referee and the referee coach, the referee completes a G.R.O.W Referee Self Review and Coach Feedback Form.

They then email the form to their coach who inserts their comments into the relevant sections of the report.

The completed report is then returned to the referee and a copy is sent to the Referee Administrator for storage in a central location.

NOTE: At the time of writing this content,the new NZ Rugby Online Referee Coaching Portal is not yet up and running. It is envisaged that the reporting component will be included in this new online portal. Until such time as the online portal is released, could all members just use the downloadable "WORD DOCUMENT" please.


To download G.R.O.W. Model resources, click on the links below.

If you have any questions, please contact:

Pat Rae
Referee Manager
Ph: 07 547 4684
Mobile: 029 487 8429
Email: pat@boprugby.co.nz

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