Ref training last week was shaped by the need to be tough on the causes of crime, even in lower level games. Just because its a Level 11-14 game cheating spoils everyone’s afternoon. The players may be old, slow or just crap, but they know how to flop on the ball, handle in rucks, late tackle and punch without the ref seeing it. The answer is to deal with it, penalise and card if they are not listening.
Saturday’s game had all the above. The home side was a team I had already reffed this season, and it didn’t go well with a high penalty count and I should have shown cards earlier.
The game started badly for the visitors with two shoulder injuries in the opening 15 mins, with only one sub their early promise was soon eliminated. It got worse soon after as a late and borderline spear-tackle saw the tackled player off the field with a stinger in his lower back. The tackler was yellow carded. 13 men and the contest was heavily stacked against them. Still they turned around at half time only 10-7 down thanks to some desperate defending and a superb scrumaging.
The temper on the second half was tense and edgy, there were a few late hits from both sides and the two locks had their own private battle which they managed to keep hidden. The visitor’s open-side had a different view on what was ‘on your feet’ to me and the home side were persistently offside at the tackle area. At the time I seriously thought of binning a number of visitors, but I was conscious of keeping the contest going; 11-12 players would have made the game meaningless. I think the threat kept them on edge but was I being too nice. Looking back, the home side should has lost a player but at the time I was concerned about consistency between my approach to both teams. They eventually lost a player in the dying minutes as the visitors pounded the home try-line for a consolation score.
It was clear that a good deal of hidden punching was going on, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t catch anyone. The lock battle was at the centre of this. This was tough as the home captain was involved, a player that would be best described as Danny Grewcock’s evil twin. He calmed down after I told him he role as team enforcer was incompatible with being captain.
A home win 32-14 and a first season loss for the visitors. I was pleased with containment of the home side compared with our earlier encounter this season. I held the chat and comment more successfully than recently too. I suspect that this would have been much tougher if the visitors had remained at 15 and the scores tighter, but then my pocket would have been a lot busier.