So, I am now a rugby referee. I did the ELRA course a few weeks ago and last night I refereed four games of touch rugby.
How did they go? Fine. I think everyone enjoyed themselves. What did I do well? I talked a lot, I was fit enough to be in a good position and I enjoyed it. I penalised touches that were stronger than you might expect and warned about body checking someone.
What could I do better. Well there is a long list… But I wouldn’t expect anything else.
1. Rules: I have read the RFU touch rules but we played some different rules and so I wasn’t as confident as I would have liked to have been. This made it harder to stop the game and go back where, for example, I wasn’t confident about what was supposed to happen. As an example, the RFU rules say you restart with a rollball where the ball goes between the players legs and is not allowed to go more than one metre back. But we played with a ‘chicken scratch’ and who knows how far the ball can go back in there. The organiser will hopefully email me a copy of the rules before next week!
2. Positioning: fitness wise I was fine. A few times I lost concentrations and was too far sideways across the field. I did get in the way a bit (but it was ten aside in the first game, and then seven afterwards) but reading stuff on the Internet afterwards, I realise I shouldn’t have been opposite the rollball as much as I was.
3. Offside: I kept shouting 5m. I was 5m back but I was pretty poor at enforcing it. I need to have some better strategies for that. Penalising early in the game so that they realise I mean it is a must. This will come.
4. Enforcing what I want: Again, I need a strategy for this. I tell a player who runs well past the touch to go back three steps and they go back two. What do I do? I left it, a free flowing game is good. But I think I should have been more positive about sending them back earlier. That way, they will be more inclined to go back later in the game.
5. Enforce touch and pass: I am slightly confused about whether or not I could give a penalty for touch and pass. As I say, would be nice to know the rules. Fortunately, I wont have that problem with real rugby (although applying them will be harder).
6. Watch other touch referees: I think that there may be some more touch rugby going on somewhere close on Tuesday so I will go along and watch that.
All-in-all, I think I was fine for a first time referee who only found out some of the rules were very different in the player briefing two minutes before the game.