Criticism of Rugby Referees…

It has often puzzled me how the Association of Referees Leinster Branch recruit people as referees when we consider the comments and sometime abuse that is often aimed at them, which in most cases is unjustified…

We in the Leinster Rugby Referees accept that people are passionate about their teams and that is what rugby is all about. However we cannot, and will not allow the support for teams to be an excuse for unjustified and at times insulting commentary and actions.

How often have you hear people comment on the referee’s eyesight, fitness, parentage and their physical size to justify comments on what are often correct decisions that a referee takes during the game? Even if a referee’s decision is wrong, does this justify such comment? What I always say is; try and imagine yourself at the receiving end of such comments and maybe your wife, partner or children standing on the sideline watching the match, how acceptable would it be to you? We are only human. Have you ever seen a referee in any code change his decision? No. And you never will.

Has it ever occurred to any rugby supporter how so many people are experts in the job of refereeing without ever having done the job themselves? Would you feel competent in giving instructions to someone having never done the job yourself? I don’t think so.

The job of refereeing takes years of training, undergoing courses and experience in order to referee at the highest level today.

This does not mean that we do not welcome reasonable, considered comment. Whether that be critical or complimentary. It is and it will be used to improve the performance of our referees. There are people in the game of rugby, members of clubs, sports writers and commentators who know the game and very importantly know the laws of the game.

When comments are made I would like to think they would be constructive and genuine. A broad comment like the referee ‘was a disgrace’ or ‘poor’, without been specific, are absolutely no value in the training of referees.

We in the Leinster Rugby Referees are constantly carrying out assessments on all our referees and improving their match performances. If someone criticises a referee’s performance it should be based on fact not just to sound poplar among your club members.

I would like to compliment the IRFU and the Leinster Branch Disciplinary Committees on their approach to referee abuse, both verbal and physical. The sanctions that have been handed out in recent seasons are to be applauded.

We in Leinster Referees with the help of IRFU must be doing something right just look at International Rugby Board Elite Referee Panel, the Irish lads keep hitting the top, which isn’t bad for a small nation. Long may it continue.

Enjoy the season.

Referee’s Corner…

Area: Metro Dublin City and County

How many referees: 96

Clubs in region: 30 clubs ranging from Junior to Senior along with approx 65 affiliated Schools teams

Name Rep: Ken Henley-Willis

Club: No Club

Occupation: Sales Coach at Dell Computers

Status/Children: Getting married to Suzie this Christmas who has one daughter Lauren.

Referee career: Having played rugby through his school days until he was 16, Ken attended the Schools Boys Course run by Bertie Smith (ex International Referee) in Cork in 1997.

Shortly after this an IRFU Youth Panel of Referees was created by Owen Doyle, IRFU Director of Referees which allowed Ken and other young referees attend and participate in regular workshops delivered by David Keane and David McHugh, IRFU Referee Development Officers.

In 2002 Ken was promoted to the National Panel of Referees where he joined the other top referees in the country. Shortly afterwards Ken was awarded the IRFU Young Referee of the year.

To date some of Ken’s career highlights include refereeing in AIL Division 1 at the end of his first season on the National Panel along with refereeing the Leinster Junior Schools Cup Final in 2004 and the Leinster Senior Schools Cup Final in 2007. Ken has also represented the IRFU in Underage Internationals along with acting as Assistant Referee in Magners League and Heineken Cups.

Although a referee spends a lot of time by themselves the Leinster Rugby Referees does offer a “Club” feeling where Ken has established friendships with colleagues. This “Club” feeling offers the group the opportunity to train together while also learning and developing from each others on field experiences.

In 2008 whilst injured Ken was approached to stay involved with refereeing and got involved as the Area Rep for the Metro Area. As an Area Rep the role consists of taking each new recruit once they have completed their Foundation Course delivered by David Keane and appoint them to games to get them ready for their trial game. This consists of an assessment on their competency, law knowledge and fitness. Once they pass this trial they are handed over to the Appointments Committee who will appoint them to games each weekend.

Another part of the role is to organise regular meetings with Referees in the area. As the biggest Area in Leinster the Metro Area has the benefits on calling on some of its own members to help with delivering workshops and law sessions. Members of the Metro Area include two of the most experienced referees in the world in Alain Rolland and Alan Lewis who are never shy when asked to help out at these meetings. The Metro area also has other high profile names such as David Keane who has over 100 caps in the IRB Seven’s and Dudley Phillips who is currently on the Amlin Challenge Cup Panel of Referees who also partake in delivering workshops.

The final part of the Role is to monitor the Metro Referees progress throughout the season, help where possible and be the go to person for referees who are having issues or need help in any way they can. As part of this role Ken sits on the Executive of the ARLB representing referees within the Metro Area.

Subaru Ireland continue sponsorship of Leinster Referees…

Neville Matthews, Managing Director of the award-winning brand, Subaru, has announced that Subaru would continue with the very successful sponsorship with Leinster Rugby Referees..

Alan Lewis, Alain Rolland (both Leinster Rugby Referees), Neville Matthews (Subaru Ireland), Fran Nolan (President Leinster Rugby Referees), Dudley Philips (Leinster Rugby Referees) and Michael Kirby (Subaru Ireland) at the announcement of Subaru's sponsorship of Leinster Rugby Referees.

“We have found that during our association with the Leinster Rugby Referees and rugby in general, awareness of the Subaru brand has increased dramatically,” he said.

With the recent introduction of diesel to the Subaru model line-up Subaru can look forward to that awareness reaching new heights over the coming seasons.

Matthews also went on to pay tribute to the Leinster Rugby Referees for their tireless dedication and professionalism shown whilst carrying on their official duties, in all weathers, throughout the length and breadth of Leinster.

The President of the ARLB (Leinster Rugby Referees) Fran Nolan thanked Subaru for their continued sponsorship in difficult economic times and said that it had been very beneficial to both parties over the last six years.

Also present at the launch were our International referees Alain Rolland Alan Lewis and IRFU referee Dudley Phillips.