Monday, 31 January 2011

Flashy and Forceful

imageTwo games last week and both ended up being disappointing. The first was a mid-week student game, out in West London and happened to feature the same visiting side as a week earlier. They had been big winners then but given the strong sports tradition of the home side I expected a closer contest. The traditions didn’t extent to the groundsman, who seemed of have marked the grass for every sport except rugby. The additional pitch stripes did make spotting forward passes much easier, not that seem to amuse the visitors too much

As the side’s behaviour was fresh in my mind, I prepared myself, strong scrum, width and speed on their counter attack and captain and No8 that don’t know how to keep quiet. In the first half, they certainly found things tougher; the home side where physically smaller, but threw themselves in to the game with great spirit and where only 12-0 down at half time. Having the advantage of the substantial wind and slope in the second half they could expect to even things up.

The wet and windy weather meant that last week’s spectacular mis-passes  from the fly-half were going all over the place and contributing to the scrum count. The home side fell apart in the second half conceding 6 tries, including an impressive chip and collect that would not have looked out of place on an international field. Final score 46-3 to the visitors.

My weekend game was a merit league match, first place vs second. However, this too proved to a one sided affair, with the home side running away with it. Brute force and team work were the defining features of the home side. A few beefy Saffas, who inevitably spent the whole game refereeing the game for me. However, it was the visitors who conceded my fastest yellow card. Attempted interception from Blue, knocked on, but I played advantage, the Red fly-half stops in his tracks and screams at me about the missed knock-on. You can go for rest matey!

The second half became very disjointed as injuries took their toll, one was nasty as a Red player was left with a hyper-extended neck injury which, thankfully only left him with a painful stinger. Scrums became uncontested after Blue loose head attempted to hook the ball back in and the scrum collapsed injuring the shoulder of his tight head. Blue finished as 43-5 winners. I had some good feed-back from both sides, but I think each expected the whistle sooner for infringements I was running advantage or judged immaterial.

Rugby Club Bar #5

An ageing but well loved/used bar at this South London Old Boys club. 3 rugby matches and some hockey players and even Lacrosse made for lively and crowded bar. Hook Norton bitter and Young's (very) Ordinary. The home skipper and some friendly alickados made for some good banter, especially with regard to scrums.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Rugby Club Bar #4

Shocking afternoon. The students I reffed today had NO BAR! Won't be going back there anytime soon!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Splashing About

imageNo one drowned this week, but it was a close thing. Plenty of games have been called off because of the water logged pitches in recent weeks. Indeed the venue for this match was swapped with the opposition, playing rugby in the mud is slowly being phased out. Despite the change of ground, the playing surface included three distinct puddles, the largest about 2-3m across! I warned the captains that I would blow quickly unless the pile ups happened in the shallow end!

The matched ended up as a great and good humoured tussle, the visitors (though technically the home side because of the ground switch) got the better of the first half, the first try was well worked with the player tackled on the line. The player landed with his back to me, though I was positioned slightly in front of him. I couldn’t see the ball, but judged it to be on or just over, it was only when he rolled over to get up, that I realised the ball was probably just short.  I wasn’t going to reverse it and even with a TMO I wouldn’t have gone upstairs. There was surprisingly little complaint from the home side which was surprising given my previous experience with that team. Half time ended 15-3 to the visitors.

As the second half got underway, it be came apparent that the the home side were tightening up their game, they had a significant forward advantage and there two second half tries came from push over tries. Given the current discussion at the top of the game, these was well executed and the opposition took the pressure and didn’t drop it, stand up or disintegrate. Scrummaging under the current laws is possible if the players want to play to them.

The second try came after the yellow card was brandished for killing the ball 3m out under the posts. The ruck was a big pile of bodies but the purple arm across the ball was clear to see. If you are going to commit an offence in that position, don’t wear fancy matching under-vests.

With the game balanced at 15-all the home side where again camped on the visitors line, the ruck developed into a pile of bodies. The purple player at the back was on the wrong side, but couldn’t escape. It was going to be an attacking scrum until the scrum-half decided to intervene, 2-3 stamps onto the side ribs of the prostrate player. No question of a yellow, but a real question of whether it was red. Once again it had been a good natured game I warned the player that they might not be so lucky with another referee and in the end I didn’t fancy the paper-work.

Great feed-back from the players and score that was a fair result for what the two sides brought to the game.

Rugby Club Bar #3

A familiar bar for refs in this area as it is where we hold our monthly training sessions. Got served quickly, pint or two of Fuller's London Pride. Home captain also bought me a Lucozade without prompt too, or may be he left his own on the bar. Note the cabal of visiting alickados in the corner of the bar

Friday, 21 January 2011

Well we've got to stand somewhere

Ronan O'Gara yellow carded for scuffle

I didn't see this live, I was watching the Ospreys implode on the red button. Yet again we see see how little commentators understand about the referee's duty to manage the game and tempers.

Rugby Dump

The commentator is heard to say "everyone is in again" suggesting there had been trouble before so the referee will be concious that tensions are high and firm action is needed. O'Gara firstly comes in at the side to take the 9 out, whether Black 9 was standing as a blocker is relevant, neither action is material and as the Assistant Ref says its hand-bags. O'Gara has had his shot, Mignon can have one back as far as I'm concerned. O'Gara then pins the 9 to the floor and forces his fist into his face. Not very nice. Personally I would have asked the AR for a recommendation but Pearson the referee clearly has already set the conflagration in the context of the rest of the match and decided that someone needs to be carded to calm down everyone else.

As different match with a different lead up, then O'Gara would have stayed on the pitch, but it looks a fair decision to me. Lemy was lucky to stay on too, in the replay he is looking to separate the players but in the first run he looks to be running across to join, especially with the swinging arm and head lock. Good job the AR was looking the other way.

Once again its bollocks from Stuart Barnes, who have thought!

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Medics Need Resuscitation

Back in my day the medical students of this illustrious London college swept all before them, winning the London Hospitals Cup each and every year. Yesterday they were beaten 78-0, and it is the third time I’ve reffed them this season in the league, each time its been a heavy defeat. The fact they are the arch rivals of my alma mater has nothing to do with that what so ever.

The game was barely a minute old when the visitor scored their first try but for the next 30 minutes the Medics held the tide, they worked well in the tight and scrambled defence saw them keeping out the Black tide. There were some minor issues with props not binding but there was a fair and safe fight in scrums, despite the physical disadvantage of the home side. The final ten minutes of the half saw three good tries, which finished off the contest. By now the visitors were securing fast ball and the excellent fly half was able to deliver double mis-passes which added width the home side could not cope with.

The first half ended with a yellow card for the Black hooker, as he attempted to pull down a maul using the head of the Red lock. Despite being down to 14 men, Black still racked up 4 tries, 1 in the first half and three at the start of the second. Red had by now completely lost all shape and as a few fresh legs appeared from the training match adjacent, some extra dynamism appeared. Unfortunately for Red, their best player, No8, was badly supported by his pack resulting in too many turnovers. There was to be another yellow in the dying minutes as Red flanker (one of the the fresh legs) brought his boot down on an errant leg in a ruck.

Despite the hammering the home side gave me a good score card and surprising the winning side were the ones to conceded two penalties for back chat.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Rugby Club Bars #2

Student bar again this time and the contrast could not be different to Saturday, would you believe there are 4 home team here today? A friendly bar man, referees get their first pint free but a chat with him resulted in a second free one too. They had sold out of all draft beer so it was a decent bottle of Old Specked Hen.

Couple of New Links

There are a couple of new referees blogging out there;

lsrfur-blog is a fellow London Society who is young and keen and viewed as a Referee With Potential
therugbyref operates someone in the South of England and is a couple of notches further up the ladder.

Please have a read about these guys too

Out of the way old man

Bethan Rugby ShirtThere is an old saying, “Youth and talent is not match for age and skulduggery”; this was put to the test on Saturday as I took control of a student team verses an adult league team. The students train with the opposition so they were clear this was to be a full contact training match of four quarters. My enthusiasm dropped markedly on hearing this.
From the kick off it was clear that the students were up for it speed and accurate execution saw them quickly rack up three tries. The skulduggery was provided by the grey and balding no6 who was warned about where he put his feet and lashing out at being held back. He was quickly off the field as the the home captain rocketed into him on the floor (with a dropped knee that I missed). This was the second time the captain had done this and yet again I erred about carding him, had it been a competitive game I would have but I choose not to as I wasn’t sure it would have achieved much. On reflection, he should have walked, he had already been warned. Clearly, if I had seen the knee then a red card would have been the sanction.
The home side were able to finish the first half 33-0 as all possession was pushed wide quickly; 3-4 to one overlaps were frequent and surprisingly often squandered. The second half was less one sided as the substitutes were rotated and increasingly the students started to appear on behalf of the visitors. I became concerned in the final quarter as a new prop appeared, he clearly wasn’t up to it, small with poor technique. However, as this was a training match, I was able to talk with his opposite number and he agreed to protect him. Young props have to get experienced somehow and this was a good opportunity for him to cut his teeth. I am glad I spotted this and worked constructively with the team, but I warned his coach that he needs a lot more coaching before he is let loose in proper match. The next prop and referee may not be so obliging and the consequences disastrous. Final score 48-0

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Rugby Club Bars #1

An occasional series showing the post match facilities. Here we have a brand new student bar, at the venue for the Women's World Cup. It wasn't until the last day of that tournament I discovered the excellent range of real ales available; all small independent breweries. Today's tipple was Irvings Type 42, a strong best bitter. It being students, I had buy my own pint.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Muddy Rugger

Lost my game today because rugby isn’t played in the mud anymore. Have got a second game at my favourite ground. Great facilities and selection of post match beer

Monday, 10 January 2011

Running off the Xmas Pud

Saturday was my first level 10 match and the first game of 2011 and whilst all 31 of us needed to blow away a few cobwebs, it went well. The venue was club I seem to be sent to surprisingly frequently, at least 2-3 per season; its not particularly close either. Still it has warm changing room, friendly alickadoos and proper first aiders. Moving up a level also meant playing on the first pitch rather than their awful, inclined, mud-swamp of a second pitch.

The first half progressed well with the visitors just about getting the edge with their organised pack. The home side admitted to using a lot of youngsters who “didn’t use the top 2 inches”. The surprising thing was how long it took for the first scrum, I am aware I do give a lot, this goes back to an assessor telling me to blow early at rucks before frustrations boil over. However, in this case, whilst the rucks weren’t particularly tidy, the ball was coming back were it deserved to be fairly quickly and handling was sharp enough to hold down the number of knock-ons.

Both front rows seemed to behave themselves but the visitors did seem to twist it regularly. The back row binding was a problem from both sides and materiality was a useful tool. I did penalise but only when the flanker got in the way, made the tackle or forced an error. The flanker captain of the visitors questioned my consistency with the “stay bound” instruction and I pointed out to him that the only way he could see that the opposite No8 was detached was if he himself was breaking early. Sheepish retreat.

The visitors got some luck from the kick-off,  Blue caught the ball close to their 22 and the fly-half’s poor pass to his centre rebounded of his shoulder and into the arms on the oppo for an easy run-in to score under the posts. The visitors were starting to complain about stamping, indeed, one forwards showed me a stud scrape on his hand, which I am sure he deserved, however it is frowned upon these days as it scares away Sky viewers. So when I over-heard a home prop boasting about the arm that he stamped on, he and his captain were warned about the outcome if I caught him doing it.

I have to admit to two errors, one technical and one judgemental. The home side were awarded a penalty on the visitors 10m line and attempted a cross field kick to the their winger, unfortunately the defending winger caught it and called for mark, which I instinctively gave (d’oh!). Luckily no-one noticed and  they failed to remember the incidence when he later called for a mark from a kick-off and I called play-on. Next up, in the dying minutes the home side are 10 pts down, 10 m out and pressing for a try, the defencive player is trapped on the wrong side in a ruck and I’m about the blow for an attacking scrum when the scrum half brings his foot down sharply on the player’s calf. Clearly deliberate and close to the knee joint, I showed him Yellow but it should have been Red.

The post match feed-back was positive with a couple of minor issues with rucks (as always) and strangely communication. Physically, I’ve been tested harder in some level 11 games but I’m happy that I came through this well.