The rankings B3 to B1, indicative of a referee worthy of higher-level matches in any given territory, will be grouped in a single T rating beginning January 1. The purpose is to streamline opportunities for evaluation and promotion.
'The requirements for getting promoted through the B grades were essentially impossible to fulfill at the local and territorial level: the requisite-level games were all national appointments. You almost had to somehow earn national panel status in order to be assigned the games necessary to earn national panel status,' referee and laws committee chair Bruce Carter said in an email.
The national panel, the highest level, comprises roughly two dozen or so officials who referee Super League, national playoff matches, and the like. Some are further singled out as capable of handling international games.America's referees are typically characterized as technically behind, and a draft of USARFU's high performance plan offers few specifics for improvement. The group's administrative practices are more nimble, however, particularly when compared with, for example, the eligibility committee.
The revised ranking approach could help younger officials advance more quickly, something the IRB has sought to encourage. Like soccer, rugby's governing body believes that men in their 50s are not fit to officiate international athletes predominantly in their 20s.
Locally ranked officials also will be reclassified, with L4 as the beginner's designation and L1 as the notch below the T level. As part of the change, criteria for advancement to the L1 and T levels has been stiffened slightly, Carter said.