I'm getting back in to swing of things following ankle problems, man flu and Irish weddings. This week saw a last minute appointment to a medical student match verses the 1st team of the team I reffed last week. I can't be sure of the level but the appointments manager suggested it was a little higher than appropriate but the promise of an assessor would fix that. My comeback almost ended in the first half as my thigh took the full force of legs swinging through the tackle. I dropped like a stone but the expert medical attention concluded it was a dead leg and I was able to run it off. It must have been serious, I wasn't able to think to blow my whistle to stop things!
Doing first teams helps with simple things, everyone is playing in position, the bench is full and they know the replacement regulations. My pre-match assessment suggested that the visitors would be bossing things, with a much bigger pack, however the medics started very strongly, driving two line-outs +10m to score twice in the opening 15mins. The were getting some fast ball and moving it wide quickly only for some very obvious forward passes to ruin things. As the first half progressed, the medics lost a lock and a big centre and started to loose moment as possession dwindled. They turned around 12-7 to the good but two tries early in the second half saw the visitors take control, their scrum was now dominant and the medics were struggling with first phase possession. The home side's centre managed to catch a couple of interceptions but not with enough space to do anything with them, typically getting isolated. The medics took another try to bring them in touching distance with 10mins to go but a penalty and then a try sealed it for the visitors.
There had been some minor niggle and I had penalised the visitors captain when he took umbridge at a perfectly good gang tackle. At the final whistle there was 6-8 man punch up as things boiled over, I was 30m from the action with the ball, so I didn't get a good view of who was responsible. There was a least one split lip and it looked spirited.
My report cards were pretty good but both marked me down on one feature. The home side thought I handled mauls badly, why I asked. It amounted to one incident. Black is caught with the ball and maul forms around him, black are driving forward with some gusto, but there is a yellow player, literally suspended in the middle trying to rip the ball and/or pull down the maul. The ball wasn't going to appear, black are clearly going forward but we are not going to see the ball soon. Lets get restarted with a scrum to black, seems a fair and equitable thing to me, but on that one piece of evidence I'm poor at managing mauls. They seemed happy when I allowed them to rolling two 10m to score.
The other side criticised my control of open play, why? I missed a knock on, 20m further on I saw a knock on but this was against them. Sorry, but if your prop wasn't so slow and fat he might have got out of the way and not obscured my view.
Despite my less-than-obvious failings I am happy with the how the game ran, its always disappointing if there is a punch up and with less well brought lads than the medics it would have boiled over earlier. However, if a team goes out looking for it trouble will eventually arrive and its up to me to deal with it when it does.