The Role of the Emergency Umpire

The emergency umpire forms an integral part of the match day team. Over the course of the match the emergency umpire is required to fulfill a number of vital roles to assist the on field umpires.
It is important that pre game, the emergency umpire prepares as though he/she is going to be one of the running umpires. This includes proper preparation in the days leading up to match day such as adequate hydration, meals and being physically ready to perform any duties required over the course of the match.
On match day the emergency umpire should complete a thorough warm-up in the event of an injury to one of the running umpires. The emergency umpire must be ready to replace an injured umpire at any stage during the course of the match.
It is important during the match that the emergency umpire stays alert at all times and avoids any distractions that may cause his/her concentration to waver. The emergency umpire should continuously scan the ground looking for incidents between players that require the presence of an umpire (e.g. pushing and shoving, fights etc). It is also important that the emergency umpire watches for ‘taggers’ and any other negative tactics that teams may be using during the course of a match. This information can then be passed on to the controlling umpires during breaks in play so that they are able to monitor the players to ensure that the game is played within the spirit of the laws.
In the event that an indiscretion between players occurs the emergency umpire should attend the scene as quickly as possible in an attempt to diffuse the situation. Having the emergency umpire attend the incident allows the controlling umpires to continue to umpire the match if the emergency umpire is able to successfully diffuse the situation.
Emergency umpires are also able to lay reports. If a reportable incident is witnessed by the emergency umpire he/she shall lay the report and communicate to the controlling umpires that a report has been laid at the next break in play. The controlling umpire shall then at his/her earliest opportunity inform the offending player that he/she has been reported by the emergency umpire.
While scanning the ground the emergency umpire should also continue to monitor team officials (water carriers and runners) to ensure that they are correctly fulfilling their role and not staying on the field for unnecessary periods of time.
In the event of a blood rule or stretcher the emergency umpire should communicate to the players on the bench that they are allowed to proceed straight onto the ground as well as communicating to the controlling umpires when the player/s concerned are no longer on the ground. This will help to minimise the delay in play and get the match restarted as soon as possible.
If the match ball is lost and the spare football is required the emergency umpire should run the spare ball out to the controlling umpire. The emergency umpire should at all times know where the spare football is and should preferably have it situated under his/her chair.
It is important that throughout the course of the match that the emergency umpire only makes positive and encouraging comments towards the running umpires. Negative comments are not to be made towards any team members at any time during the course of the match. The emergency umpire should remain supportive, encourage his/her fellow umpires and only make constructive comments.
Main points to remember as the emergency umpire:

  • Prepare as if you are going to be a running umpire
  • Be ready to replace an injured umpire at any stage of the match
  • Stay alert
  • Continuously scan and monitor the ground
  • Assist in stoppages during the match 
  • Encourage your fellow umpires
  • Follow team rules
  • Contribute positively to the success of the team

This article was originally written by Joel Morrison for

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