Monday, 30 November 2009
Friday, 6 November 2009
These days, the iRB are leading the development of the game and the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2011 is proving some development focus as well as much needed pitches. There are only two pitches in the country during the monsoon season! Since 2001 players numbers in Indian have risen from 1,500 to over 17,000 as development of the game has focused on armed forces and the police as well as youth.
Referee development is more difficult, there are very few in the country and they suffer from having on a small number of games, typically 4-5 per year. Then there are distances involved with limited expenses to cover travel and with only one assessor to cover the entire country getting help for improvement is a slow process. The two referees who came to London were found 4 games each, both youth and senior and were assessed at each. There thoughts are that with adequate support from Standard Chartered this type of exchange can continue in Indian and other developing rugby nations.
A final story, the corresponding London referee who visited India was given a match between Uzbekistan and the Bombay Police. It was all going well with the large crowd enjoying the game. Unfortunately a high tackle by the Uzbeks provoke ire amongst the crowd and 150 plastic chair welding spectators invaded the pitch and began attacking players and each other!
Wednesday, 28 October 2009
Monday, 26 October 2009
Black’s mix of oldies looked to bully Blue early on and I warned them to calm thinks down. Minutes later as a promising move came to end just short of the Blue goal line, Black 16 had words with a Blue player before open-handedly slapping him. The ensuing yellow card was met with protests that it was only a slap, yes it was, if it had been a punch then it would be have been red. From scrumaging under the posts, Black were marched down the field. At 15 minutes in, it was certainly my earliest yellow card and the assessor’s advice did result in taming Black’s temper.
Another Black move came to end 3m out as a Blue player goes down over the ball, killing it. Again a yellow card but no penalty try as Black didn’t look to be certain to score. However, they did from the penalty and turned around 12-10 up, not a great advantage since they would be playing up hill in the second period.
The lack of position and procession had seen a big penalty count against Blue and the captain was warned to keep discipline in the second half but their new strategy was to use the slope and speed of their young backs to keep the old fellas in Black away from the ball. This worked with two early tries which put the game beyond Black. A bizarre aspect of Black’s play was the number of accidental off-sides from ruck and maul. I say accidental but there is a case for obstruction and a penalty, but I judged that the forward players were just too lazy to retire properly. They found this very frustrating but I offered the penalty interpretation and that quietened the complaints. There was to be a third yellow card as a Black winger, chipped through, the Blue defender, jumped to charge it down but deliberately landed in a way to trip the attacking player. The captain had been warned that the penalty count was high and that was reckless play.
The scrumage in this game was a tough one to control. The wizened operators of Black verses the bulk and youth of Blue. The first half, pushing down hill, Black adequately contained the Blue pack. I over heard the Black tight head complimenting his 19 year old adversary on his efforts. However, in the second half, it all started to go wrong; Blue were now pushing down the slope and Black struggles to hold the engagement hit. This resulted in a couple of free kicks for the early push and for delaying the put in. However, in the final quarter, Black’s loose head popped up repeatedly. The first penalty was against him for not taking the pressure and standing up, then against Blue for driving up and then, once again against Black at the loose head flew up in the face of an almighty shove. There is often an element of lottery in getting the call right on front row offences but I am getting more confident calling it right and going for a sanction rather than a re-set.
What did it take out of this match? It was a spirited but disappointing spectacle, there were too many penalties but try as I might they were generally clear, obvious and fair. The early and confident use of a yellow card calmed things down and got both sides focusing on the game. I cut down on the commentary to players and acted with more confidence in key game management phases and the new positioning at kick-offs, line-outs and goal kicks seemed to work well. Final score 31-12 to Blue.
Monday, 19 October 2009
It was clear before that kick-off that the Home side (Blue) had an enormous advantage up front; their tight-head alone looked like he accounted for half the pack weight. He acknowledged that the visitors (Green) looked a little light and that he would go easy on them. I told him that I was happy for him to dominate, but not destroy; safety first.
Blue started strongly with dominate territory and good forward control, but the Green defence was resolute but they put pressure back on themselves by not find touch with kicks. This was a good deal more edgy than recent games, things simmered through out. An early incident saw Blue winger chip through, and the Green defender stood his ground as the ball flew over his head. Instead of stepping around or running into him Blue nailed him with a huge tackle! Penalty Green tackling the man without the ball, it was dangerous as the defender wasn’t expecting it. Two Blue tries did carry question marks; the first came from a Blue maul 10-15m out, the ball carrier detached from the maul and brushes another player, was it clear and obvious? In retrospect, yes and it should have been a scrum to Green. The next one was a forward pass which I couldn’t see as the defenders were obscuring my view. The assessor confirmed the forward pass but said it was understandable given my positioning which in itself was fine. Unfortunately for Green, they didn’t play the whistle and the Blue run in was easier than it should be.
Half time and the team turned around 17-3 to Blue but there was frustration that they had not got more out of their possession. The assessor introduced himself to me and I was surprised that he wasn’t an old pass-it type that usually carry out these duties. He gave me a couple of pointers for the second half, largely that my kick-off positioning wasn’t good – despite being moved there by a previous assessor and I was told to watch out for Blue 6 in the line out as his elbows and arms where in plenty of places were they shouldn’t be.
The second half started and an early line-out clearly shows the Blue front jumper interfering with Green, but as the ball is going over the top, it’s a quiet word as a run past, “keep your arm to yourself No 6”. A few minutes later it’s a free kick as the arms go in again, and later it’s a full penalty at which point the message gets through. Nevertheless, Blue continues to dominate despite a neat try from Green. A couple of sweeping wide tries finish off the game but it comes at a cost as the penalties against Blue mount, mostly for not rolling away from the tackle and going off their feet. A general warning to the captain is closely followed by a yellow card, though the assessor said this should have come sooner. Not that it mattered as apparently the miscreant managed to slip back the field un-noticed. The final point of interest was a disallowed try as beautiful Blue move was hauled up just short of the line, the Green tackler rolls away and Blue scrambles forward to ground the ball over the goal line. Decision; playing the ball on the ground, penalty Green. Final score, Blue win 32-8.
To be fair, Green were better than the score suggests but their weak scrum didn’t give them a platform and their forwards were too keen to get into an arm wrestle with a much better pack. Despite the niggle, edge and penalty count (17-8 against blue) the feedback from the players seemed to be positive
The assessor had some good feed back for me particularly about positioning at kick-offs and line-outs, which I tried in the second half to good effect. My penalty kick positioning was wrong and this allowed the Blue kicker to bring a touch line kick in 15m and I need to get closer in at rucks give my directions to players and then get out to the short side. Hopefully, there will be enough positive support to get moved up a level at the Christmas promotion board.
Wednesday, 14 October 2009
Monday, 12 October 2009
Our tutor, Old Uncle Bob, is a former top, national referee and it is clear that from the video clips used, he favours swift justice for miscreants, recommending red cards far more quickly than any of the class.
Old Uncle Bob is well stocked with tales from his years with a whistle, two favourites from yesterday included the English international referee (not current) who’s pre-match routine included a couple of G&T’s before he took the field. Sounds more fun than Gatorade. Another English international referee arrived for France v Scotland with only a white shirt, forgetting the French change of strip. His only other top was a red training shirt, ripped at the side. With the aid of some safety pins he took to the field and the game passed without incident. However, his assessor did criticise him for not raising his arm high enough.
Spectator violence is something at has hit the news lately, but one of my classmates recounted a recent London New Zealand v Hammersmith match were a floored Kiwi was receiving a pasting from his opposite number. The swiftest retribution was delivered by the victim’s 5 foot girlfriend who matched on the field to deck the assailant with a decisive right hook! Classy bird!
Friday, 9 October 2009
Wednesday, 7 October 2009
Wayne Barnes in the middle gave a consummate performance, though rucks still managed to have a few too many players off their feet from my angle. The winning Quins try was tough one to call even with a TMO but thanks to Sky TV HD cameras the right decision was made. Ironically, it was the same high definition coverage that provided evidence for Bloodgate!
The afternoon started with a stomach-in-mouth moment as I realised that letting toddler-son play with my whistle after the last match meant it hadn’t found its way back in my kit bag. The advice of keeping a (rusty) spare prevented any embarrassment.
The combatants were two well organised Old Boys sides and happily were a side higher than I had previously encountered from those clubs.
The home side, Blue started strongly setting up a Red line-out on their own 5m line. Red 8 left the line early and I awarded a free-kick, an ensuing ruck saw Red 8 go to ground and tap penalty saw Blue score neatly in the corner. However, once Red got their act together the tight play from their forwards was too disciplined for Blue to cope with, there was great running and handling from the Red backs, some neat behind the back flips. In contrast, on the many occasions that Blue pushed forward, the ball carrier was isolated and was turned over or conceded a penalty.
Comedy moment of the match came a Blue 15 was chasing down a kick that ran into touch, realising that he was heading for the half way flag he attempted to vault the flag, which raised a sensitive target for the top of the flag to whip into. The ensuing line out was delayed as the forwards and referee composed themselves.
The game ended with a healthy 38-18 win to the visitors thanks to better organisation and individual skills. From my perspective, no major flare-ups, though it seems I did miss an obstruction in the lead up to a try. I was well positioned but wasn’t looking at that aspect, I suspect they were right to question it; at least it didn’t affect the result. I came off feeling the afternoon had gone well and the feed back from the teams seems good too. Sadly no beers with the captains afterwards as I needed to run off to the Harlequins match.
Wednesday, 23 September 2009
The first week was a local match, I even cycled to the ground and it involved a side I’d encountered a couple of times before; the oppo where new to me. I gave a good long briefing to both teams about the summer law changes and new directives. Naturally, most of this was news to the players except the maul law. In retrospect, the subtleties of hands in at the tackle were lost and I think it left them with the impression that hands were fair game from everyone. It did prove useful as at least one turn-over came from the legitimate use of the new ruling. Well, I think it did!
Both teams were evenly balanced, though the loss of a prop and the subsequent 2/3 of the game played uncontested probably cost them the win. Neither team seemed to control rucks well, which made them messy but competitive. I played rucks loosely which allowed a bit of niggle to develop, but this didn’t spill over, despite the home team’s combative Saffa No8. A word of warning to players if you have a distinctive accent; keep your thoughts to yourself, otherwise it makes it easy for the referee to pick you out and penalise you directly.
One of my season’s targets is to get a better grip of discipline and it was an early yellow card for the defender on the floor, 10m out, kicking the ball back as the scrummy was about to pick up. Black scored a crucial try from the resulting penalty
Final score was 22-22, my first draw, four tries from each team but some tricky kicks to convert.
My second match was supposed to be a third team game in south London, but the club had bumped the referees up a match as they had botched their referee appoints (very naughty boys). The home side just managed to scratch together 15 with a couple of subs, were as the visitors had 8-10 subs which the home side foolishly, it turns out, allowed them utilise. There was some good early pressure from the home pack, but the oppo had a wonderfully skilful and youthful back three who twice capitalised on some half chances to score. It was a marvellous chip and chase game that the home side could not counter. The home side converted some pressure into a score as chip through was knocked on by the defending full-back, not attempt to catch, 5m out, penalty try. I ran play through another phase to see if they could get a proper score but it wasn’t coming.
The scrums were tricky all afternoon as both front row wanted to mess about, as ever a tough one to decide who is up to what, there were a couple of obvious free kicks and penalties but an awful lot of resets.
Eventually the youth and fresh legs made a difference and the score began to flatter the visitors in what had been real contest. Final score 17-45.
Friday, 18 September 2009
Ahead of my second match of the season, the Referee Society brought out JP Doyle to talk us through refereeing the tackle at last night’s meeting. It is a huge benefit having Premiership referees in the Society to aid our development. He got us thinking about what type of tackle we were watching, offensive, gang, isolated, etc and how this might change our priorities for what subsequent offensives might occur. Is it likely to be a tackler not moving or a ball carrier not releasing?
His focus is clearly to avoid giving a penalty, the early whistle and a scrum being the preferred option. In judging if it should be a penalty, he clearly looks for the crime to be clear and obvious, something that will change depending on the observer’s reference point, particularly between player and referee. Next up, he looks to see if the play is positive, the tackler may be on the wrong side, but is making an effort to move away or is he prevented from rolling away?
Finally, the referee should use his judgement as to what is ‘fair’, is a player or side being rewarded for good, positive player and is the outcome equitable? This final point places the referee as an arbitrator (what the French call the man with a whistle) rather the enforcer as seen but the Anglo-Saxon world.
All good points to take into the weekend and I will try and watch some of JP’s game between Wasps and Worcester to see how he implements this approach.
Thursday, 3 September 2009
Personal targets for this season are to get more games than last year. Fitness is up (though you wouldn’t tell from looking at me) and I am unlikely to suffer another catastrophic injury (touch wood). That said, getting my weight down and speed up would enhance my performance.
I was prompted at the end of last season and with a decent run of quality games getting to Level 10 at Christmas is achievable. It will rely on getting those assessment cards back to the bunker. I also want to get Assistant Referee qualified; it’s a way of getting involved in higher level games without the fitness or development issues that come with being 41.
There is going to be a tough learning curve for both players and referees with the new breakdown and obstruction/maul directives, so getting on top of those early and making it look like I’m in control are crucial. The last point goes for the whole game, never let it look like you’re unsure. Players are like wild animals, they can sense when you’re afraid and will use it their advantage.
Most importantly, I’ve got to carry on enjoying it.
Thursday, 27 August 2009
Planet Rugby - Test referee Roos resigns
You may remember the fan that assaulted the David McHugh in SA v NZ match a number of years ago and I even remember a recent story of a junior referee being threatened by a pistol-wielding fan. Perhaps the players themselves should set a better example to their fans?
Tuesday, 25 August 2009
Its been well flagged that a number of last season’s ELVs have passed into Law, the ones that did not make it were being able to legally pull down a maul (good), those Free Kick sanctions tried in SANZAR (good) and not bothering about numbers in the line-out (bad for refs). There has been some tweaking with the off-side at the scrum, with the defending scrum half now required to be besides the putting-in scrummy or behind the 5m off-side line. Once the ball is in, he can go were he likes as long as its on-side.
These are generally instruction on how the law are to be interpreted and tighten up on what referees may varyingly judge to material. They generally move the game towards encouraging positive play and fair competition.
The big one this year is dealing with obstruction at the maul, anything other than the ball carrier being at the front as the maul forms will be obstruction. Lineout lifters must be careful how the maul forms when they land the jumper. Kick-offs catchers can’t rely on the binding onto a couple of loitering forwards in front of him. Once the ball is at the back of the maul, the ball carrier must lead the detachment and players must bind on behind him. Its all about fair contest for the ball, letting the oppo have a fair crack at stealing the ball.
The next directive involved the tackle and will generate lots of confusion. The first player arriving at the tackle will be given priority in playing the ball with his hands, even if the ruck forms around him. Last year, I would have cried “hands off, ruck!” now, as long as the player has arrived through the gate or was the tackler and is ON HIS FEET, he can handle the ball. This may come as a surprise to many players who have always played this way but finally the IRB are ‘legalising’ Richie McCaw’s game plan! What is import is intent; is that arriving playing looking to play the ball or just kill it? The latter still gets a penalty. The thoughts on this are this will improve the speed of service of the ball and will generate more space as teams will have to commit more bodies to rucks to win back the ball. In truth, at my level I doubt this will be clean enough to call but it should make a difference to what you scream at the TV.
One final thing, spear-tackles or any thing that involves lifting a player off his feet and dropping him down will be an automatic red card. Just like Rich Brown for the Aussies on Saturday who got, oh yes, a yellow card. Remember folk TV rugby is refereed very differently to your Saturday afternoon game.
Wednesday, 19 August 2009
Run out of Props? Tough Luck!
Too many sides, getting stuff in the scrum, have an injury and on comes another flankler
It looks like this has its roots in an IRB ruling and it is interesting to note the decline in uncontested scrums when this was trailed in France; from 145/994 to 2/994!
More details here
Thursday, 13 August 2009
Friday, 7 August 2009
Wednesday, 29 July 2009
Tuesday, 28 July 2009
Rugby: Ref quits over sideline abuse - Rugby - NZ Herald News
We are far from a tipping point just yet, but I thing we have moved on from the thin end of the wedge. We all know where it leads - soccer. The IRB needs to get tough with coaches and national officials who publicly criticise match officials. There are channels which operate behind closed doors; make sure they are used.
In the mean time, I am always happy to talk about my game over a beer in the bar afterwards.
Thursday, 23 July 2009
Aside from the Kiwi crowd, I would say that things have never been healthier in the game. Despite the protests from the media, illegal thuggery is much reduced than in times of old. How many wizened props or back-rows in your club have been gouged in their career, or cleared out a ruck like Bakkies, most of them I bet and they have returned the favour or retaliated with a good punch. The ’74 Lions 99 call would, today, have seen a couple or red cards, at least. It doesn’t happen at the top of the game and is been driven out the lower game because the tolerance of referees for such behaviour is zero.
There is potentially a problem, if lenient sentences are given out for things like gouging and the real shame is on the SARU for trying to defend Schalk rather than saying he’s guilty and asking the disciplinary committee to throw the book at him.
The Harlequins matter is a reflection of the fundamental spirit of rugby; cheating. No other sport I can think of has at its heart the idea of doing whatever you can get away with, playing the referee if you like. Props live for it, back-rows are admired for it, and centres run lines that are designed to confuse. Just because your arms are up, it doesn’t been you aren’t running back slowly on purpose, of course he was on his feet, he couldn’t release the ball any quicker. The list is endless and when you get caught you take the consequences but this requires HONESTY and that is what the SARU and Harlequins are lacking. Why this dishonesty? Its because the stakes are now so much higher. The clubs and Unions have money and power and the IRB must stamp its authority or risk loosing control of discipline and becoming as weak as FIFA and UEFA in soccer.
Harrison, like Matt Stevens, might have problems, but at least they have the honesty to admit it.
Wednesday, 1 July 2009
I will be highly surprised if there isn't a punch up in the first 20, and for this reason Irish and Welsh players can be expected to get the hat-tip ahead of the English in challenged positions. I certainly don't expect the Lions to finish second best in this aspect of the game on Saturday
Thursday, 25 June 2009
Two good reasons;
If we could get a sport that I want to watch at the London Olympics I wouldn't think it is quiet such a waste of Tax Payer's money
Secondly, it give the little countries like New Zealand a shot at a medal.
Tuesday, 23 June 2009
One of the greatest club names in British rugby bites the dust
London Welsh Administration
My home club and a little piece of Cymru in London. Things seemed to be going very well last season, our highest finish for many years and a place in the new British Cup competition. This would have been very lucrative with games against top Welsh, Irish and Scottish teams. This move is likely to see this position lost and Division 6 SE is a frightening prospect.
All the worse coming during a Lions tour, as the club still holds the record for the most starting Lions from a single club in 1971 to New Zealand.
Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Rugby: French pelted with bottles following first test win - Rugby - NZ Herald News
God help them when they get knocked out of RWC 2011!
Friday, 5 June 2009
THE RED TERROR: Guilty
I really can't believe this has not been picked up by the broader rugby community. It is a truly shocking story and especially disturbing as it seems to have been committed out of spite rather than poor technique.
Tuesday, 26 May 2009
Tuesday, 19 May 2009
It is an exciting prospect of having the RWC locally in 2015, but this blog is supporting the competition going to Japan. My return to playing rugby in the '90s was with London Japanese (I was working for an Japanese stockbroker at the time)and I can assure you that the Japanese love their rugby. A more committed, if underpowered, set of players I have yet to met.
Neither should should we think of rugby as a marginal sport in Japan, it is huge, look at these registered player numbers from the IRB website
Still convinced it should go to a 'Big 8' country once again?
Friday, 15 May 2009
Thursday, 14 May 2009
Thursday, 7 May 2009
As the season draws to a close, I was rewarded with the best game of the year. I was drafted in to a hastily arranged game involving some Spanish tourists (Blue) and a local Exiles (Green) team. Arriving at the ground I was surprised to see a large crowd assembling but was relieved to learn that at National League game was being hosted and the crowd wasn't for my match.
Both sided were thrown together, the home side from a mix of youth, 1-3 teams and vets, the visitors were a range of ages from the university alumni. My pre-match worry was communication with the visitors, but there was a good understanding of English. Any concerns about a mis-match of skill was soon dismissed as the visitors took the game to the home side with some robust forward play and very swift back play. The Spanish soon got the first try and it took some time for the home side to reply. Soon after, Green killed the ball on their own goal line, despite having a clear sight of the miscreant, in the spirit of a friendly I didn't yellow card him. Spanish scored a good try from the penalty and soon after we turned around 10-5. It is fair to say the pace of the game was blistering, especially in weather better suited to the Spanish! I felt a twinge of ham-string pain but some ice carried me through.
The second half saw a slew of replacements for the home side, with youth replacing experience. The extra pace saw them gain an edge, but the penalty count mounted as Green frustration with the score line began to tell. The Home side were well matched against the Spanish, but their edge was the scrum, but I become frustrated as both sides drew sanctions for front row offensives. Green eventually scored and converted to take the lead. Soon after Blue were again pressing on the Green line and two Green hands killed off any quick ball, this time I went for yellow and Blue made the extra man count to score and regain the lead. The match still had time to go and Green's young, heavy forwards pressed hard to secure another try, again converted. The game moved into the closing minutes, with Blue pressing hard, until my watch beeped for full time just a Blue conceded a penalty under Green's post, a kick for touch to end the game? No one asked, a quick kick up field and Blue were running back into Green's 22, a cruel twist of fate would see a forward pass deny them the winning score. Final score 19-15 to Green.
It ended there, a great game to be part of, easily the most talented players I have refereed, it was a full-on encounter played in a great spirit despite the yellow card. It was remarkable how much easier the breakdown was to control without old/tired/lazy/poor players falling over the ball, this enabled quick clear decision making on my behalf. Afterwards, the rugby community was shown in its best light as gifts were exchanged and Guinness shared. I am not sure how much wear the Home side man of the match will get from his Basque beret??
Wednesday, 6 May 2009
A couple of articles caught my eye in The Rugby Paper this weekend (no link as they don't publish online) both were by Nick Cain. In the first he makes the point about gamesmanship and in the second he questions the reffing appointment for the Lions tour.
Gamesmanship will always be part of rugby, it is part of getting an edge against your opponent, physical, skill, stamina they are all as valid as a sly comment or witty slight. But Mr Cains is right “the stuff that is creeping in now needs to be slammed back in its box by referees...there is an epidemic of ruffling of hair, patting the head, or applauding an opponent who has been penalised”. The man is right, I would also add some of the more jubilant try celebrations too, hugging and kissing is for the girl friend or soccer players. A manly tap on the shoulder or shorts was more than enough for some of the greats of the game and so it should remain.
A couple of years ago in a junior 7s match at the talented No10 ran in his 4th try he made some comment to rub in the humiliation of the score. I awarded the try but restarted with a penalty. Hopefully that lesson will stick with him.
The Lions tests this year will see neutral IRB referees, with NZ, Australia and France providing the referees and the provisional referees being both British and South African. Mr Cains is concerned on two fronts, firstly the ability of the Aus and NZ referees to allow the Lions to scrummage, an area they should have an edge. Here I too am slightly worried, Stuart Dickinson during the Autumn tests failed to get to grips with England's scrummage nonsense and that day did a convincing display of being outfoxed by both front rows. That is as polite a description of his performance as I am prepared to make!
The second point is that during the last SA and NZ tours, some of the provincial games have taken a high physical toll on the star Lions' players, leaving the test side depleted and vulnerable. I don't see that happening this time. Firstly, all the referees are IRB panel referees, at the top of their game and secondly the 'home' referees include some of the best of the IRB panel Lawrence, Kaplan and Joubert. In fact, its shame the Lions insisted on neutral Test referees.
Friday, 1 May 2009
Rugby: Club player banned for life for punching ref - NZ Herald News
It is unlikely to ever get tested, but I would hope the same would apply to a professional player.
Monday, 27 April 2009
Discipline is a key part of the learning and quote of the day was "What do we call the man with a whistle? - Answer - SIR!!" Start 'em young!
Friday, 24 April 2009
Wednesday, 22 April 2009
BBC SPORT | Rugby Union | Boks surprised by O'Connell pick: "South Africa coach Peter de Villiers admits he did not expect Ireland's Paul O'Connell to be named as captain for the Lions' summer tour."
Tuesday, 21 April 2009
Monday, 20 April 2009
Another Girls game this week and an unfamiliar level of bonhomie. Sunday brought bright sunshine and an U18 youth game at Esher, I arrived wearing a London Welsh shirt, forgetting that a last minute try the day before had consigned the home side to the relegation zone of National One – Oh dear!
In adult male games, players may be vaguely familiar with each other but rarely do they acknowledge each other with anything other than a grunt or nod of the head. However, squeals of delight and giggling are not a something I generally see between teams pre-match, this did not continue as the match started.
This was another sharp and feisty contest with good skills from both sides; I was not surprised to see County representative shirts in the bar afterwards. Red started with a player down and, in fairness, Black dropped a player to the bench to even the match. Red put pressure on themselves early on with the back three unwilling to catch any balls on the full. They allowed the kick-off to bounce into in-goal, and from the resulting 22 drop out the home side score a try. The next kick off rolled into touch for a 5m defensive line-out. Both sides offered well organised defence, but Red could not compete with the physical size and power of the Black pack. That said, Black’s most potent player was the diminutive outside centre and captain. She was a speedy and agile counter runner who gave Black some of the best gain-line breaks. She was probably the best centre I’ve seen this season.
Scrummaging presented the biggest challenge early on, as with many youth game, a mis-match in size and skills saw a number of resets. Technique from Red was poor and they were underpowered compare to Black. Early in the second half the discussion was made for me when the Red hooker complained about neck pain and asked to take the scrum uncontested. This did cause me to adjust how I’d been playing advantage. Up until then, I was running scrum advantage differently for Red compare to Black. Clearly taking a scrum was a lesser advantage for Red than Black so they were more likely to play a couple more phases or receive a subsequent line-out.
In the second half the Red backs got a lot more ball from set piece and I noticed they too had a talented centre and some persistence scored an excellent try. The conversions was put over to the obvious surprise and delight of the kicker, she jumped and waved her arms as she ran back to the cheers of her team mates!
Ultimately the power of Black scored a final try and was the measure of the day. It was a good and fast game and I don’t remember seeing a group of players who were so obviously enjoying an afternoon of rugby.
Good points for me was positioning at rucks and mauls, I wasn’t in the way nearly as much as last time.
Bad points, scrum management; it is tricky to draw the line between coaching (good at this level) and getting players to do as they are told. Next, it was nearly chocking to death as I swallowed a fly. It’s difficult to stop the game when you can’t whistle!
Thursday, 16 April 2009
I try to get feed back from captains in the bar post-match but the card gives them a voice for what they aren’t prepared to say to my face. I hope they will be honest with both the card and over a beer.
There are a couple of problems, the first is the percentage that get posted back; this season only one match has seen both cards returned. I give up my afternoon to do something I enjoy, all it costs the team is my petrol money and beer or two and they get an afternoon of rugby. How much effort is it to fill in the form and post it back or hand it to me in the bar? Less time that it take the barman to pour the first round.
My second gripe is teams that have been on my wrong side all afternoon marking me down out of spite. They weren’t honest with themselves on the field, they can’t be honest with me on the cards. Having been around the circuit a couple of years, it is clear that one club in particular seems to consistently score me lower than my average. They are also a side that are ‘challenging’ to manage on the field. It’s a shame because the facilities and organisation are first rate, but clearly the ‘esprit de sport’ is flat, something you would hope wasn’t a function of the leading public school that feeds the club. LondonRef Jnr won’t be learning the game there despite the convenient location.
Wednesday, 8 April 2009
This week it was to be a Sunday game for a change and a Ladies team for yet more variety. I arrived early, too early as I had mis-read the kick off time, so an extra half hour of ‘warm-up’. The last women’s game I reffed had utilised U19 scrummaging regulation (no turn-overs, no pushing past 1.5m) but things have moved on and this was full-on, by the Law Book, as it was national league.
The home side (Red) started the strongly with good field position, but an 70m interception from the fast and talented full back saw the visitors (Black) take the lead. The home side were better drilled and ruck presentation was excellent, but Black often seemed to fall on the wrong side at the tackle and penalties came thick and fast. I was certainly stuck as to whether it was deliberate or poor technique, the lack of yellow card means in my mind it was the former which may not be giving the girls credit! Red struck back with a well worked try before and another inception gave the visitors a 14-5 lead at half time.
The second half saw the game start to open up which suited the home side as their superior running structure started to gain momentum and the more organised forward platform got the upper hand against the more belligerent visitor pack. In the meantime, black’s full back once more caught the ball, this time on her goal line, thwarting a certain try, and took off down the field, whilst it would have been a sensational score, I was grateful she was pulled down short of the home side’s 22m and a penalty for the defensive players going off their feet was scant reward.
The best move of the match was saved for Red 13 as she took the ball 30m out and side-stepped the width of the field to score in the opposite corner. This put the home marginally ahead, with clock showing 38, but we still had another 16 mins to play, such was the injury toll. Red made it safe with 10 minutes of real time to go as Black’s shape began to break up. Final score 22-14
It was an impressive match, with solid commitment from both sides, scrummaging was committed though no less closed to indiscretions than the men’s game. I tried to stamp down on crooked feeds as there was less need to watch bindings and boring. I did get caught out by Red’s ability to change the point of attack, which resulted in my positioning being wrong and blocking the Black defence on the 10-12 channel, something to work on for next week. Recent weeks has seen a common problem of back chat but I please to say that neither team caused me a problem during this game.
So in the end, I put on a referee shirt and 30 women do as I say, I wonder if it will work the same magic is Mrs LondonRef?
Monday, 6 April 2009
Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Quick throw-ins and no gain in ground from 22 kicks are to stay, but maul pull downs and line-out numbers are out.
MOST IMPORTANTLY- the sanction laws (lets make Union as dull as League) are not being put forward (at least that what it looks like) - though there may be further examination of this one.
International Rugby Board - Rugby stakeholders agree ELV recommendations
All those puffed out props and backs recovering from ruffled hair will be glad to know that rolling subs will be allowed in the community game as well as the potentional for U19 scrum variations being used in the adult game (a new point on the discussion board for me)
I have said that my original hostility to change was tempered by the experience of refereeing the changes but the maul pull down and the sanction ELVs were the most danagerous and they look to be dead. Expect Mr O'Neil of the ARU to throw a strop.
Monday, 30 March 2009
It was cold and blustery and though dry, it threatened rain. The game was barely 30 seconds old before the visitors (green) lost a centre to a sprained knee. The home side is one of the few at this level that provides a physio which is comforting to know that side of things is covered safely. Despite the pain, he somehow recovered to make an appearance in the second half as a replacement. Except that wasn’t allowed in a league game, so his 38 second cameo was all we saw of him. The restart scrum provided the first of many indiscretions as the home (red) hooker goes in crooked on the opposition hooker. This was to be a start of a torrent of offences at the scrum, I think I may have almost a full house; boring (both tight heads), foot up (twice), feed not straight (both scrum halfs), not binding, driving up. It all became a dull progression of whistles, resets and whinging about that which I needed to look out for- Did Red wheel? Was that last feed straight – sorry I was watching the binding that time, please play the game!
Both sides spent the first half questioning and trying to referee the game for me. My patience snapped as Green attacked on the Red 22, they knocked on and as Red collected and started to spin it wide, the Red stand-off scream “Knock-on”, yes I saw it, I was planning advantage, but it’s going to be a penalty against Red for dissent. Despite this the comment continued though the stand-off remained quiet. By the start of the second half both sides had quietened down but not before a similar penalty against Green.(Tip: if you are the only South African/Kiwi/Aussie on the team, it makes it very easy for the referee to figure you if you speak out of turn)
As the penalty count crept up, I found myself letting some of the 50-50 calls ride to allow the game to develop some flow, but this generates its own problems as players perceive that poor play goes unpunished. However, the game remained spikey and competitive to the end with Green ending up as deserving winner but the 20-7 score didn’t reflect Red’s contribution to the game.
Things to take out of it are still more scope for tightening up chat – this time there should have been a card and the same goes for scrumaging- the message just wasn’t getting through.
Friday, 27 March 2009
Last year at this competition, the day’s play was abandoned due to fear of drowning or concussion from falling branches. This year, whilst it was cool, I managed to catch some sun! Organisation seemed to be a bit better too, and there seemed to be a surfeit of referees so the schedule was far from punishing.
My first match was Ampleforth v Felsted, the team captains are due to arrive 10 mins before KO to check colours and call the toss, I give then 4-5 minutes and if one of them hasn’t shown I give the toss to the punctual captain. Felsted arrive very late and I tell him he has defaulted, the coach arrives a couple of minutes later and I explain that no, he hasn’t defaulted the match, just the toss!
This year I’m up a couple of age groups and the skill and speed are telling, three months off exercise aren’t good preparation for a day of refereeing 7’s. I get three games including a semi-final; I forget to check my watch as the first half of the SF draws to a close and a try is scored, oh well one more play I think, but this leads to a try in a tight game. Bad form, still it didn’t decide the game as the scorers ran away with things in the second half as they suss that giving the ball to the big fast lad is a good game plan.
Following this I run touch for couple of games, watching higher level referees closely was enlightening. A couple of issues, blue going in at the corner, and red tackles high, I flag it but the try stands, why no penalty try? It didn’t prevent a try being scored, had the player been prevent from going in closer to the post then maybe, but the tackle was made as the player was going to ground anyway. Secondly, red is tackled in midfield and the blue tackler bounces up quickly to play the ball, penalty given to red but the signal is not releasing the ball; confusion by me and the crowd on the touchline. It turns out it was the wrong signal, the blue tackler took down the red player and was trying to rip the ball. As both players hit the ground, the blue player never let go of the ball so the penalty was for not releasing (the player). Correct call but a fail on signals, which the ref admitted to back in the hut.
It was interesting to see sides using the ELVs to good effect particular quick throws, who would think you good make 7’s faster.
A worthwhile day out, and the ankle held up. Roll on Saturday.
Monday, 23 March 2009
Following my ankle operation in January, I was finally back in the middle last Saturday. My last game was in December and whilst I missed the worst of the bad weather, it has been a long break. If truth be told, I should have taken a softer and longer pre-return training schedule but a couple of gentle runs and a Level 14 old lags game, that was 30 mins each way to catch the internationals was just the start I needed.
The home side were a hospitable bunch with crate of isotonic drinks in the referee changing room and small crowd sitting outside in the sunshine. The opposition rocked up a few minutes before kick-off with no subs and looked on as the full bench of the home side ran through drills and looked significantly younger than the starting line up.
Black (home) chose to play down hill in the first half and made this count with total territory and possession in the first 20 minutes, however they couldn’t score. A penalty gave the visitors a line-out platform in the oppo 22m and a great move saw the barrelling blue prop twist over- 5-nil against the run of play. On the turn of half time, a quickly taken penalty saw the home side asleep and the visitors claimed a second nicely worked try.
The visitors seemed to find their rhythm in second half, with some good forward pressure, the scrum was dominant and well-behaved. I could have been stricter on in-straight and foot-up but it was working the same for both sides. Although it was a good natured game, 7-8 minutes in a tackle in the home 22 brought about a flurry of punches from the blue centre on black’s hooker. He claimed retaliation on behalf of his put upon colleague – yellow card, I considered red, but it would have been harsh given the general spirit of the game. I didn’t see the hooker punching but I probably should have carded him to be fair; I felt there was no question of his guilt. Blue held on with 14 men and the try-scoring hooker came close once again with a chip and collect on the home 22 ( I hope rest of the front row fined him for that one). Once blue’s centre was back on he caught my attention for a second time as a trotted backwards and failed to see him on all fours until I crashed down over him!
The ankle came through and it was a pleasant re-introduction, there was bit of ‘commentary’ from blue but it stopped with a warning as I pointed out to their captain, if I refereed the game they saw, then their second try would have been a blue scrum.
I’m at the National Schools Seven’s tomorrow, and that will be a sterner test of my fitness.
Thursday, 19 March 2009
BBC - 606 - - A48768772 - Will Irish Vintage outdo Welsh Whine?:
"I would imagine the team talk will be brief, along the lines of
'Are you gonna let these ******* *********** come to our house and take our ******* title?'
In Gat we trust!"
Wednesday, 18 March 2009
Referee sacked ahead of Grand Slam clash - The Independent
It seems the final straw was turning up at an IRB referee conference a few sherbets too many into the evening.
I hope we haven't seen the last of him.
Tuesday, 17 March 2009
He struck me as particularly good for this level; excellent positioning, good whistle and signals, and the game flowed well. The two apparent Irish tries were disallowed because of a stray foot into touch in-goal and the off the ball shove gave Welsh a justified penalty try.
It turns out that last season, he was a level 3 national league ref and was coming back after a back problem and ankle operation (plenty of sympathy). It was clear he was used to better things and it showed in the quality of game he delivered. He even drew praise from the Welsh, very rare praise indeed.
Now lets hope its a similar score line on Saturday....!
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
Danny Care unfairly singled out for criticism, says the rugby player's coach Dean Richards - Telegraph: "You have to get into context exactly what went on last week,' said former England No 8 Richards. 'Danny Care's penalty was a silly penalty but had it been in the first or second minute it wouldn't have been a penalty and the referee would probably have said 'don't be so stupid next time'."
....Dean Richards gets it.
Monday, 2 March 2009
Sunday, 1 March 2009
The French had driven the ball up to the Welsh line, the ball was picked up off the floor by Harinordoquy who was at best bound to the ruck, but to me, looked to be supported by his shoulder on the body of a player on the ground. The TMO gives the offence as handling in the ruck, he could have chosen playing the ball off his feet. Either way, a lucky escape for Wales – that time!
Jonathan Davies’ called for a yellow card on Shanklin’s aerial contact with Harinordoquy, this was certainly dangerous and illegal but I am less certain it justified a yellow. The TV commentariat seem to believe there are certain offences which automatically warrant a yellow. Some are certainly more likely to result in at least a yellow (punching, stamping) but the referee always has discretion. This will determined by the temperament of the game, the general penalty count and how dangerous/stupid the tackle/action (and if the miscreant is English??). Shanklin is clearly going for the ball and then pulls out, his arm is trailing (I suspect deliberately) but it make contact high on Harinordoquy's body unbalancing him, but it is not as dangerous as taking out his legs or enveloping a player in the air.
I do like the aerial camera during scrums, it’s a view that isn’t available in real life and it certain picked up the French front row pulling the scrum sideways for the wheel. Sadly, it wasn’t as obvious at the ground-level angle for the referee.
England’s penalty count on Saturday at 18 verses Ireland’s 9 was double most other teams’ count for the weekend’s internationals. When the referee encounters that level of indiscipline he will go for the card sooner not later.
Friday, 27 February 2009
Thursday, 26 February 2009
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
The simple answer to this question is that teams under pressure cheat. England's only answer against Wales was to slow down the ball and this is always going to be borderline, with International referees you are going to get less time than with me. This year we have been asked to police the breakdown to the letter of the law, this means you can not protect your ball by sealing it off by going to ground over the ball. Much of the latitude players may have got in the past, off or on the feet has been removed.
From watching the Wales game, a couple of times, I think the yellows were spot on, Tindall was a tad unlucky, he was on his feet when he started to play it but went off as he played it back. Goode was banged to rights, I think he was lucky that it wasn't a penalty try (but then I am Welsh). If Wales had quick ball there then they were in, no doubt.
The next point I want to make is communication, referees will talk to captains and let them know that the penalty count is mounting and something needs to be done. One the field Borthwick looks like a petulant child and the behaviour of the off-field management does nothing to dispel the view that camp is behaving in a similar manner. Other teams are obviously be better at influencing referees, many would consider it one of the arts of being captain, ask Sean Fitzpatrick. If you don't like how you being refereed, work with him to give him the game he is trying to give you. Don't sulk like Borthwick.
John Wells is a cheat
Finally, rather than complain about other coaching teams 'getting' to referees, ask yourself why international referees approach England with a jaundice eye?
Monday, 23 February 2009
Unfortunately, I didn't get to chat to the referee as his assessor was present so he disappeared early.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
Gordon Brown backs RFU World Cup bid - Telegraph
Think how well England's RWC 2007 campaign was going until the One-Eyed Scotish Idiot turned up at the Stade de France?
Thursday, 15 January 2009
Wilkinson eyes Lions return - The Independent
By July he won't have played international rugby for nearly 20 months and then he was a shadow of his former self. He has only had a handful of first class games for a team propping up the Premiership, not even Heineken Cup action. In front of him are O'Gara, Stephen Jones and James Hook.
He'll be watching it on the TV, just like me.