Tuesday 31 March 2009

International Rugby Board - ELV recommendations

Its looking like sense is going to prevail with regard to which ELVs are taken forwards as full changes in Law.
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

A Little Local Difficulty

After a couple of weeks of trying to engineer a game close to home, I get assigned a match in the next village. Surprisingly it was an early kick-off but the visitors had reckoned without the SW Trains shutting down the mainline for the weekend. It was back to a full-on Level 11 merit league test which was to test my fitness and patience. This was game with considerable talent and commitment but a huge penalty count and once again, two teams that frustrated with constant chat.
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

Schools Sevens

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

Back on the Park

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

Will Irish Vintage outdo Welsh Whine?

Well said that man!!

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

To be fair, the game was re-allocated to Wayne Barnes (the other bad-boy, referee?) a few weeks ago. I always liked Walsh's no-nonsense, technically precise style.

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

London Welsh Occies

Well, it should have been my first week back in the saddle. Unfortunately, the team didn't confirm and no other matches to be reassigned. Instead I watched my old team in a Vets match. Good, old-fashion Exiles derby. A testament to the talents of the ref that it was the first I've witnessed with a punch up.

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

Here lies the crux of the problem

Spot on....

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.

Sunday 1 March 2009

Yellow Peril

Watching the France v Wales in the chasten comfort of my own home rather than the London Welsh club house afforded me the luxury of listening (more soberly) to the commentary. It becomes clear that, whilst Jonathan Davies is unmatched in his tactical analysis, his technical appreciation of the laws is some way behind. Austin Healey on the other hand, may be a folically challenged, scouse motor-mouth, he was spot on in calling the French disallowed try.
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.