ARLB Mission Statement

“To recruit, retain and continuously develop qualified referees to meet current and future demands of the game.”
The Referee Development Plan is the vehicle through which an agreed, effective and integrated Refereeing Recruitment, Training and Development framework will be achieved.

Under the leadership of the Irish Rugby Football Union, Leinster Branch and in partnership with the Association of Referees Leinster Branch the provision of more enjoyable and fulfilling opportunities will be achieved through the delivery of high quality programmes, structures and facilities.

Presidents Address 2008

I am very honoured and proud to be elected as your President for the coming season. I would like to thank Norman Camier for proposing me and I know that I have a hard act to follow, given the tremendous work done last year- particularly in the areas of recruitment, retention and communication.

Our Association faces many challenges in the months ahead not least in maintaining the momentum on recruitment and retention. We are fortunate in having David Keane focused on recruitment in Leinster and a heightened awareness among the Area Reps. of the importance of retaining these recruits mainly through ensuring that they get matches. I believe it is the responsibility of every member of the ARLB to be constantly on the look out for potential new members and to pass on their details to David Keane.

Last season we introduced a new assignment system for assessors which like any new system needed time to bed in and be tested. This system has now been refined and a huge amount of work has been done by Jerome Counihan, Fran Nolan and Bernard Boland. This system will work and it requires the commitment of all concerned to ensure it does – Assessors and Referees alike !. It is our ambition that every active referee will be assessed at least twice during next season.

The impending introduction of the Experimental Law Variations, ( ELV )s, has been well publiscised. ELVs will be the keynote topic at the Seminar on August 17th. , delivered by IRFU personnel. It is imperative that all active referees attend the seminar as our selectors are not allowed to appoint match officials who have not attended an IRFU presentation on ELVs. I would also urge all active referees to ensure they maintain/improve their fitness levels as fitness will be more important than ever next season.

I would like to take this opportnity in congratulating John Montayne on reaching the AIL National Panel and to John Carvil on receiving an IRFU contract. Well done to you both.

Finally I wish you all a successful and enjoyable season in whatever role you fill in the ARLB. I am always available to take suggestions and constructive criticism and I look forward to meeting you all on August 17th.

Brian Pender

Refereeing in the Arabian Gulf

By James Fitzgerald
Refereeing rugby in the Arabian Gulf is full of surprises. Some are pleasant, others not so much.

The first surprise is the heat. Well, I suppose it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that at the beginning of September when the season starts the temperatures are well over 40 degrees, regardless of whether you play at day or night. But even though your mind might be prepared for it, your body will still be shocked to the point of threatening to cease functioning unless you find a shady area to curl up and die.
Let’s just say Law 5.7 (g) is one we know well and we’re not afraid to use it.

Another surprise is the amount of rugby that is out here. Although mostly the domain of expats from the world’s foremost rugby-playing nations, the administrators of rugby in the gulf are trying to evangelise by introducing the game into schools attended by locals, with mixed results.

But there is certainly no shortage of Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, Japies, French (in fact, there is a club based in Dubai called the French Frogs), Yanks, Canucks, Paddies and South Sea islanders to make up the numbers.
Currently, I am on the Gulf Premiership panel which means I travel around the region reffing games in places as exotic as Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman as well as in the United Arab Emirates from Abu Dhabi through Dubai and up to Sharjah. There are also teams in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon that we help out if they are short a ref, which is most of the time. This is not exactly rugby heartland but it does afford one the chance to travel to some pretty interesting places, which beats a trip to Edenderry on a wet Sunday afternoon in November.

Another surprise was turning up to Kuwait Nomads Rugby Club and being told this barren, grassless wasteland was the pitch. Sand was falling out of me for a week afterwards. The post-match function in the dry state of Kuwait was interesting – never underestimate the ingenuity of man, particularly when that man is a thirsty rugby player. What they do is they buy crates of alcohol-free beer which is freely on sale at the supermarket, add yeast and basically reverse the process, leaving the mixture to ferment in five gallon drums for a few weeks. The result is a powerful and tooth-curling home brew that makes you grateful for the relatively liberal regime in the UAE.

Being part of ARFU (the IRB’s regional association for Asia) also brings its opportunities and in the two years I have been here I have been sent on refereeing appointments to Sri Lanka (twice), Thailand and Hong Kong and I am currently working towards getting a place on the IRB Asia Five Nations panel that could bring some tier two international experience. We also provide the TJs and in-goal judges for the IRB Sevens Series in Dubai.
I still get to watch the Magners League and Heineken Cup matches on TV here and I have to admit I get a little pang of homesickness when I see the crowds huddled and half-cut in a freezing Thomond Park, Sportsground or Ravenhill as the ARLB’s finest stand firm against the wind, rain and spectators’ abuse. With the temperatures hitting a pleasant and always-sunny 30 degrees here these days, perhaps my hankering for Leinster rugby is the biggest surprise of all.