EXPERT SESSIONS AND ADVICE FROM QUALIFIED AND EXPERIENCED GRASSROOTS RUGBY COACHES

Why our referee didn’t have a shocker

From our Touchline Tales archive, 2014, about an U15 cup game…

Last weekend we lost 20-22 in a cup game. The opposition scored at the end from a disputed lineout on our line and we felt our jumper was impeded. 

Were we frustrated? Yes, no doubt. And so was their coach earlier when one of his players was yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on in front of the posts. He was still steaming about the incident after the game. 

But our coaching team thought the referee, who was centrally appointed and neutral, had a good game.

To put it into context, one of our coaches is with a semi-pro team and they also had lost by two points the day before. He said he felt the referee had made a mistake at a crucial moment. His coaching team had quizzed the referee afterwards, showing himvideo footage of the incident. The referee acknowledged he’d probably made the wrong decision, but both groups had agreed that split-second calls can be difficult in the heat of the moment. Otherwise he’d a good game. 

And that’s why we thought our referee had had a good game. He’d let the game flow, been clear and decisive at thecrucial moments. Afterwards he explained his view of the lineout. He felt the ball had gone before the contact had been made. It was a difference of opinion, yet in the context of the whole game, it was one mistake. 

After the game I spoke to the opposition coach. We both agreed that it was far better with a neutral referee because if one of us had been reffing the game, both of the disputed incidents could have left bad blood between the teams. 

That doesn’t mean that neutral referees can’t have shockers. Last season, I was frustrated a couple of times by officials who were swayed by a noisy coach or didn’t police the offside line.

But I do always say – you have to learn to play the opposition, the elements and the referee. 

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