Referees are a vital part of the fencing community, and do an incredibly tough job! They control the piste, award points according to priority, and ensure that fencing is conducted safely. They also watch for offences, and penalise where necessary.
Refereeing is a fantastic way of improving your competitive fencing, and even your coaching. It develops your understanding of the rules, as well as keeping your understanding up to date.
If you’re interested in gaining refereeing qualifications, look out for upcoming courses.
You can find more information here about how to become a referee.
Our regional referee development officer is Robert Johnson.
Safety Must Be Your #1 Priority!
Check your piste.
Wires should be taped down. Spectators should not be stood directly behind the piste. If your piste is a rollout carpet piste, it should be taped down properly without any bumps in it as these are a trip hazard. Any concerns you have should always be reported to a floor manager or a competition organiser if you can’t solve the problem yourself.
Check your fencers.
Make sure you are clear on safety requirements for the competition you’re at. Bring all the fencers in your poule over at the start and do all your safety checks in one go. Plastrons should be worn and be of the required strength, 800N for size 5 blades, 350N for size 0/2/3. Female fencers should be wearing a chest protector, with the plastron on top, then the jacket. Check masks, the back strap should not be loose and the mask should fit the fencer’s head properly; not falling off when they shake their head! Don’t forget 800N sabre gloves for size 5 blades. Anything 800N will have an FIE stamp on it, look for this.
Top Tips for Making Calls
1) Be confident in your decisions, even when you may not feel 100% sure.
2) Stick with your decisions.
3) Know the rulebook, you can even get an app so the rulebook is always to hand! You can download the rulebook app here: iOS Google Play
4) Be consistent in your calls.
5) Practice as much as you can, ask questions, and observe more senior referees.
There are three levels of video for each weapon: local, national, and international.
Start at local and work your way up!
Watch the clip no more than twice, then make your decision! You can watch the clip as many times as you like after casting your vote.
You’ll then get a screen like this where you can compare what others have said about the clip.
Pay most attention to the green bars as these are votes cast by FIE qualified referees, and their comments will be highlighted in blue.
You may well find clips where the majority says one thing, but all the FIE votes say the opposite. In this case, trust in the FIE referees and try to understand what they’re seeing.