Monday, 22 September 2008

Sunny, South West London

The rugby season is now in full swing so, what feels like the sunniest Saturday of the year bakes the turf of Motspur Park. This was another Level 11 game and one that amounts to local derby. The referee training from Thursday night was fresh in my mind so focus on the front rows and closing off at the tackle were to be my points of focus in improving my game.
As it turned out the scrums were generally well behaved and proceeded well compared to last week. The home side lacked the of bulk of the visitors but as with the rest of there game, were better organised. They typically managed to step over the ball as it was put in, though it did catch them for a crooked feed once. Two scrumage incidents stood out; KCS had an attaching scrum on the 5m line, there was a tremendous shove as the ball went in and the defending tight –head stood up, the shove looked straight so I awarded the penalty to KCS which they took quickly and scored under the post. Wimbledon protested they had called a man down; nobody looked hurt as the scrum broke up so I was happy not to stop KCS using the advantage. It turns out it wasn’t a front-row and was merely a knock on the leg. It hardly warranted a stoppage so it was a good call; Wimbledon needed to react to the whistle better.
ELVs came into play in the second incident, a strike against the head saw the KCS back line needing to rearrange defensively, they rushed up and took a stand on the old, back-foot line and it was obvious to spot. Strangely, ten minutes later, the strike went the other way and Wimbledon conceeded the same penalty. ELVs played a part in the second try as KCS scored in the corner, the corner flag was clearly taken out as the ball was grounded, and against short lived protests, the try was good.
The tackle area was particularly scrappy, with KCS frequently handling and Wimbledon going off their feet. One incident saw the visitors turned over in the tackle, Wimbledon had no players in the game at the ruck to complete when KCS stepped over and picked up the ball. There was no penalty as there was no contest, KCS had won the ruck and by picking up they were being positive in getting the ball going forward. In making any discussion, referees should always look to reward positive play. I am not convinced Wimbledon saw it that way.
Sadly, there was no de-briefing with the visitors, post match, so I will have to wait for the card to come back. The home side gave me some good comments but at 34-0, they were bound to be pleased. From my own point of view, I was happy with my response to the high level of chat which diminished with action and I felt more confident that I was dealing with the scrum decisively. However, it was a bad afternoon for positioning, with three scrums as the ball carrier ran into me or being on the receiving end of a clearance kick – ouch!

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