Christophe Ridley – Professional Rugby Union Referee and Performance Leadership Coach

May 10, 2021

“Its perfectly normal to have doubt and perfectly normal to think you have it sussed”

A powerful, purposeful, insightful and honest view in to the journey Christophe has taken to being one of the best Rugby Union Referees in the world.

He openly shares his thoughts and experiences form childhood right through to what goes on for him on match day in the 6 Nations. He has a quiet arrogance yet continues to question himself and his ability.

He is a shining example of somebody maximising his potential and who has a thirst for learning and a deep curiosity of people and how they interact. His view as are not theoretical – they are real and applied.

It is truly a fascinating conversation and there are many take aways if you are looking to maximise your potential in whatever you do.


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Success quotes or sayings:


There is a small bit of Refereeing in the DNA

I was looking for a sport I could be more than good at

At the age of 12 my farther had the discussion with me about what route to take to be ‘successful’

I got some ‘purpose’ early on which has probably led to the success I have had

My super strength was – I was particularly good at contact sport

I don’t believe you can teach someone to be brave – you can be exposed to environments to become more resilient.

I am drawn to people who are ‘very strong’. I like that strong firm behaviour.

My dad is a very firm character and assertive. He is very practical in how he faces things.

I wish I was more interested in my academics as I think I missed a trick there.

It wasn’t I became more interested in learning it was that I was READY to learn ( in a more formal way!)

I have a specific interest in the way people interact

I want to coach on a deeper level – I want to be involved in the whole process of developing the person

I am just absorbed by behaviours

You have to accept that you are not there to be liked and not there to make friends

If know one talks to you or about you, you have done a good job. It comes with little external gratification. My goal is now to not be spoken about.

My gratification comes from a ‘quiet arrogance’

Those three things are written down and I have them with me in my changing room to remind me why I am here.

I am consciously and constantly surrounding myself with experts. I am looking to gain and transfer skills from all walks of life

I am aware that it is never ending and I need to be constantly aware that I have something to learn

People say  – you are an average of the people you associate yourself with.

Show me your friends and I will show you your future

Planned with Pure authenticity

There is a risk of over planning and over scripting

As a new, young looking referee I really planned and was conscious to be ‘business like’

I have lots of scars and learnt those things early

Making these [performance] habits makes you world class at what you deliver. The habits are something you live and breathe. It is a constant. Its relentless. It is Full time – not something you can dabble in and out of.

There is no perfect performance. I want to reach my max capacity

Managing through the low times – I acknowledge there would be low times

I prepared for what I would do if I got it really wrong.

I would have a brutally honest review culture with myself

By being honest when things go wrong can increase your cudos

When you get it wrong it has to be on the other persons terms

I absorbed lots of information from lots of different events  (reference and learning points)

I am constantly building a picture of what it is to deal with people effectively

Curiosity and absorbing are strategies for development.

I am very very nosey

I have a child like mind in terms of how I am curious

I also have imposter syndrome every week – that’s normal!

Its perfectly normal to have doubt and perfectly normal to think you have it sussed.

Your identity is your consistent behaviours and performances (week to week)

I always trust people until they give me a reason not to trust them

Highlights can be more than just ‘your best moment’

Part of being world class is sometimes doing ‘nothing’ or doing ‘something else’

Have sharp tools and not blunt armour


Quick fire questions:

The books that you would recommend are?

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness by Dr Steve Peters

In one sentence – What advice would you give to your teenage version of yourself?

Have other interests and don’t be solely focussed on one thing

If you can win then DON’T lose – just survive


Whos’ Sport Story would you be really interested in hearing?

Anthony Joshua

Tyson Fury



Coaching questions I would like to pose:


If people say you are an average of the people you associate yourself with then what would your average be?


If your identity is your consistent behaviours – how would people view you. What would you like to do more of or change?


Contact info:

LinkedIn – Christophe Ridley

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