Friday 30 March 2012

Running in the Sunshine

I've reffed at the Rosslyn Park Schools 7s for several years and finally, this year, we've had some sevens weather, indeed its been more like Dubai than Roehampton. Its a great occasion, 20,000 students from home and abroad and the same could be said for the refs this year. The London Society brought across a number for development refs from Singapore, India and Hong Kong who were certainly surprised by the weather if not the quality of the food (burger and chips x 4 days is hardly the food of champions).
I am always amazed by the standards of some of the teams, especially as we get down to the play-offs and finals, many of these kids are already better than I ever was as a player. The event also proves to be a great social event for the refs, we rarely get to share the camaraderie that players enjoy as down in the lower orders we are usually travelling alone. Sharing down time between games for 4-5 days is a great opportunity for a joke or to get feed-back on your performance. There is always a good turn out of the usual characters to use up the allocation of beverage tokens at the end of the day. 
Whilst the good weather was welcome, it took its toll with hard grounds increasing injuries to players though it appeared to be cuts and grazes rather than the broken bones and dislocations we saw last year. The warmth seemed to help with muscle ache too, I seemed to be as fresh at 4pm as I was at 11am. This may be on account of my improved fitness, I certainly found that trying an ice bath each night helped in my recovery. 
I did suffer one misfortune, I only reffed one match on Wednesday after being knocked out 1 minute into my second game. A conversion was being kicked onto the field and I had signalled it was good and turned to write down the score when the ball hit me square on the back of the head. I found myself on the floor and mildly groggy the medics deemed me unfit to continue and I spent the rest of the day as a spectator. It was my first knock out on a rugby field and is a good example of why you should always keep your eyes on the ball!
What did I take away from the week, firstly my fitness is definitely improving, rarely did I feel I was struggling and also found myself being more efficient with my running lines as I read the game better and thought about where I needed to be. I found myself actively looking for an excuse not to blow and keeping it moving, those 50-50 forward passes where allowed to go in the interests of fast'n'flowing. I've received a few comments regarding poor use of advantage recently, I think this is a habit born of wanting to tidy up scrappy low level games. Now I'm getting better games there is less chance of the ball getting lost in scruffy rucks or foul play spilling over into a punch up. There are not many more games to develop this approach but I've started to adapt my style accordingly. 
Finally quote of the week came from one of the 16yo academy refs, "I think I'm allergic to Deep Heat, its made  my skin go red and hot!" Kids today!