As the European season kicks off this weekend with the opening rounds of the Heineken Cup and the Amlin Challenge Cup, ERC have instructed all match officials in both competitions to be particularly vigilant in a number of key areas.
The key areas of focus, which are in line with those emphasised by the IRB during the recent Rugby World Cup, are as follows: dangerous tackles, the breakdown, scrum engagement, obstruction, and offsides at rucks and from kicks.
These areas were highlighted by ERC's Match Official Performance Manager, Donal Courtney, at a series of meetings during the club pre-season with the coaching staff of the 44 Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup clubs. The meetings were also attended by the Referee Managers of the six Unions.
"We've made sure that all match officials and club coaches are aware of the five key areas which we believe demand particular attention at the moment, and as organisers of Europe's leading club tournaments, we are expecting a consistency of approach from all match officials throughout the tournaments," said Courtney.
"In assessing the performance of match officials, feedback and critical analysis from the clubs will be greatly valued," Courtney added.
With the protection of players a priority for ERC, Citing Commissioners will be operating at all Heineken Cup games as well as televised Amlin Challenge Cup games throughout the European club season.
In another development, ERC has confirmed that the period of half-time for both tournaments will now be 15 minutes as against the 10 minutes allocated in previous seasons.