Following our successful seminar on 21st of August our year now starts in earnest for most referees. Excellent contributions by David O’Brien from the IRFU, along with our own Alan Rogan, Kevin Beggs, Gary Glennon, Ronnie Maher, Brendan Jenkinson and of course the most entertaining Leinster coach Joe Schmidt.

So what’s new this year?

From an IRB law perspective, very little. In Leinster a lot. Starting with our front door, our new referees and our “yearlings” are the focus of a new group of coaches, assessors and will be under the guiding hand of Mark Power and the Rugby Committee. These referees will receive all the resources we can offer them, with area meeting specifically tailor for their needs.

Our development referees are already well into their fitness programme, designed especially for them by the Leinster team fitness coach. The Leinster Professional team monitor their fitness, nutrition and review their performance. The selection committees pick matches to test every aspect of these referees skills. Through assessments, coaching reports, meetings attendance and fitness reports these referees build up their case for promotion to IPAS and onwards to the National Panel. The National Panel currently has 51 referees and these turnover about every 5-6 years, our goal as an association is to ensure our referees are best placed to take advantage of these opportunities.

For the vast majority of our referees this year promises to be equally challenging. Selections and promotions will be evidence based. If you are performing well, it will be noticed and you will progress. Our new on-line assessment system means that information on individuals is readily available to selectors. The system will also help direct education by showing scores for all referees on particular areas of the game. This system, designed by our own John Montayne, is the most advanced data collection programme in the refereeing world. This is a good time to be an ambitious referee in Leinster.

For the off field members “times they are a changin”. On-line reporting, video analysis, assessing the assessor, law workshops along with your usual duties. There will not be any fitness testing of assessors (yet) but progression will require constant attendance at laws meetings.

When you pull on your jersey or jumper to officiate at a game remember you are representing Leinster Rugby, the same organisation represented with pride by Alain Rolland, Brian O’Driscoll, Leo Cullen and many others now and past.

Wear the crest with pride and serve it well.

Good luck to all.

Ciaran O’Brien
President
Leinster Rugby Referees 2011/12