Friday, 7 October 2011

Rugby on a Cricket Day

It was wall to wall rugby last week, wake up, watch rugby and 4 games to officiate at including my first appointment as an assistant referee.
Game one was  another first as it was a Daily Mail Cup U18 game in SE London, it was a new competition for me so I made sure I brushed up on the tournament rules. Both were state schools but one had a long rugby tradition but the home side where relatively new to it. The pre-match pitch inspection showed that the 5m line-out line was actually 10m in and thus the 15m line was at 20m. There were no flag posts either. I’m sure it wouldn’t happen at Whitgift. I agreed with both coaches that I would judge where the line-out would start and ‘throw not 5m’ would not be aggressively policed.
The game was fast and aggressive, the visitors where by far the most skilful but the controlled mayhem from the home side kept them in touch. This mayhem didn’t always help them, 3 yellow cards saw the home side play half the game with 14 men. The first should probably have been a red. The second row looked to strike a player with his head during a scrum. The other two where reckless straight arm high tackles. The scrums where troublesome as two opposing props constantly went in crooked, hard to apportion blame but they had been coached well on how to cheat, penalties where shared between them. The game ended with one try apiece, two penalties to a conversion and penalty saw the home side edge it 11-10. Their reward, a match against last year’s winners!
That evening saw me run the line for a development game under lights. A good performance from the man in the middle, I helped him out with some advice on what was happening on the opposite side of the scrum. We were not miked up so interactive communication was impossible. It was interesting to hear the disparaging coaching comments, I was able to introduce them the concept of “straight-enough” at the line-out.
The following day I was back to same school for an U15 match, this time the opposition was one of the top rugby schools in the area. The coaching staff even had ipads for match analysis! A bad fall on the hard ground saw a home player complain of back-pain, he was on the touch line but play started to get dangerously close so the coaches agreed to end the match, 43-3 to the visitors, only one more score before I would have been forced to call it a day anyway. The game did allow me to fulfil a teenage ambition, accompanying the PE-mistress around the back of the gym!
The final game was the first ‘proper’ game, a Surrey League 2 match in weather more suited to a cricket match. Strong running from the visitors and a more organised pack saw them easy winners at 32-3, the home side found some form in the final quarter but it was too late. They were pressing hard for a score but dropped the ball or conceded the turnover, evitably the visitors gave away a couple of penalties and the captain was sent to the bin for handling on the floor. “I thought could, I was the tackler?”, no you were laying on your back on the wrong side and picking up the the ball and throwing the ball back to your scrum half, is cheating in my book. Even after this the the home side failed to capitalise. After 80 mins of rugby in 30 degree heat the beer was cold and plentiful.
I’m please that all three games felt comfortable, teenage hormones and fast league rugby pushed me but I’m happy that I didn’t miss much and everyone was happy with the game I have them. The confidence that has developed over the last two season means I can stand further back and see more of the game and manage it without whistling too often.

No comments: