Just to throw an extra topic into the debate.
The English guys will know that Schools are (or think they are) a separate entity (Schools Union as well as RFU) and that there is mostly a big difference between private fee paying "Public Schools" and the state education sector. I totally agree with Browner that there is money to spend for referees in some Schools.
I know of one ex Premiership Referee who referees some "top tier" Schools matches for a fee of £250 per match.
There is another ex RFU employee, an ex-International Referee, who is running his own Referee Courses (not ELRA or the new RFU Level 1 & Level 2 Refereeing courses) for private schools at £hundreds per session.
At a recent L5 game that I was match observing, I was engaged in conversation by a lady who had a 16 year old son, who had done ELRA
a while ago and was already doing his own age group matches on Sundays as a Society member. She was asking about his possible future as a professional referee - she told me that he has been paid £15 per match to referee a local school U16 every Wednesday this season.
This reminds me of the pre 'open game' era, where money was floating through the sport 'unofficially' and ' boot money' existed etc.....
I suspect these examples are the tip of this particular iceberg.
I don't buy the " expectation of performance " of referees will make a difference....... It will still be commensurate with level, if a University/ school/ club want L2 ref, then they are free to request one (at the appropriate fee) and if there is a L2 referee available then they can have him . If there isn't then the get the level (and fee) appropropriate to the level of the referee supplied. When a society appoints - the club 'have no alternative other than to accept the appointment' .....that's it - league rules say independant & that's it....... What practicable alternative would exist?..none.
You get what you pay for, at the moment they should get me simply turning up, instead they get a diligent Law applying , self studying, trained, assessed , fair minded , management skilled , multi skilled practicioner .
When RFU introduced big screen/ TMO use, clubs simply had to find the revenue to supply the technology, and they did.... If the RFU decreed tomorrow that post pads needed to be 450mm thick, then all clubs would find the money to buy them, because otherwise there wouldn't be a game ( nor a bar, nor a club focus cos a rugby club without rugby is merely a social club ) - its quite simple really, supply and demand.
Payment could well increase the amount of self study that a referee does, he might improve in all the areas Law/study/fitness etc .... Users can't go to another supplier, there is no other supplier of this skill/resource.