This article appeared in the Munster match day program.
Contributed by Mr Denis Collins.
Brothers In Arms – The Seapoint Duo
Over the last 15 years many rugby players, coaches and spectators would have come across one of the Montayne brothers visiting their club to referee a match. Often they are even mixed up for one another. Brian & John Montayne have been refereeing in Ireland for over 15 years officiating at all levels of the game both within Leinster and at a national level. Between them they have officiated in over 500 fixtures including competitions such as the Womens 6 Nations, Schools/Youth Inter Provincials, Heineken Cup, British & Irish Cup, Pro12, All Ireland League, Leinster Schools Cup, Leinster Senior Cup, Metropolitan Cup, Provincial Towns Cup to name but a few.
This may seem not that unusual but in itself they have created some history. Both members of Seapoint Rubgy Club (a Junior club at the time) were appointed to the National Panel of the IRFU, the first ever set of brothers in Ireland to have been appointed with such honours. For a Junior club this was a great achievement not only to have one but two members refereeing at Senior level in the country. It wasn’t long after when Seapoint themselves attained Senior status.
Brian, a Senior ESB engineer and John, a Senior lecturer at the Institute of Art, Design & Technology come from a long line of Seapoint members involved with the ARLB including Jim Breen, a former president, Denis Collins, administrator of ARLB and David McDonald the current president of the ARLB.
We put some question to both Brothers about their time refereeing and what it meant to them to have been both involved.
What attracted you to refereeing and what have you learnt from the experience?
Brian: As a player I had a reputation for being a bit of a talker and did my best to get in the referee’s ear, often with counterproductive outcomes I’ll admit!! My fellow Seapoint club member Denis Collins reckoned he saw something in me though, and suggested I should give it a go, an encouragement I remain very grateful for as I don’t think I would have taken the leap otherwise. Staying involved with the game has been hugely positive, both in terms of my own well being and in terms of broadening my rugby network. I’m currently working to develop some of our younger referees in the early stages of their careers, this is a particularly rewarding experience and will hopefully make a lasting contribution to maintaining the high standard of refereeing at all levels in the province. I’ve also recently been elected to the ARLB Executive Committee and under no illusion that my best days as an active referee are behind me!!!!
John: At the time nothing attracted me to refereeing. It seemed like a thankless job. However I was persuaded to give it try by Denis Collins and actually found that I quite enjoyed it. From there I began to referee regularly, began to build confidence and started being selected for some great fixtures. One of the important lessons I’ve learnt from my time as a referee is the ability to make a good decision under pressure. It is also important to believe in your decision-making ability and base it on what you have seen and not what others want you to see. Being in the right position makes it much easier to make the right decisions.
What Are Pro’s & Cons of becoming a Referee?
John: There are very few con’s. Obviously there were times when you would sit in dressing room after perhaps not having your best day out and with a 3 hour journey home in front of you. It can be lonely at times but as the years went on that didn’t bother me too much. I’ve made some great friends through refereeing and have a good rapport with many of the players I meet regularly both on and off the pitch. It was only when I learnt to relax and enjoy the experience of refereeing that I feel I have improved. Knowing that players & coaches may not appreciate every decision made but respect that I am fair in applying the law to both teams helps me find great value in what I do.
Brian: Only positives for me although my wife might have a different view when I double-up on some occasions!!! Great to be able to give something back to the game and to my club, I still get great satisfaction officiating at my own club at all age levels. I’ve been lucky in my career to have experienced relatively little negativity toward me, on the whole there is great respect among the rugby community for referees and while players, coaches and supporters won’t always agree with your decisions (and we are prone to the odd mistake!!), once you are seen to be fair and consistent your contribution is positively acknowledged.
How has it been having a brother who shares an interest in refereeing?
Brian: Having John involved has introduced a healthy rivalry between us and driven us both on I believe. It was a proud moment when John joined me on the IRFU Panel, the first siblings to have achieved such an honour. We also have our younger brother Conor still very involved in the game, as Coach and Schools Committee Chairman, he would be very forthright in his feedback to us so we never get carried away with ourselves!! Although privately he would say Brian was the more accomplished!!!
John: We have always had great banter about who was better. I will let the critics decide that one! Brian and I have very different styles but I would always turn to him to clarify a decision I may have made. It was always nice to know that I could speak to him in confidence. Like any sport or endeavor it can be very competitive especially when you get nearer the top of the pyramid. There is less space up there, especially for two Montayne’s. We have probably spurred each other on and kept each other going especially when things didn’t go our way. We are very competitive brothers. In our family Brian is described as the Black & White decision maker, I have a little more grey in my palette!!
What advice would you give to New referees?
Brian: To enjoy themselves in the first instance and to embrace the development supports in place for them. ARLB has made significant advances in recent years to enable our referees to realise their potential, it is a very rewarding endeavour and it is our responsibility to work to be the best that we can be.
John: As Denis Collins regularly says on the phone when you get a call for match: “Go out and enjoy Lad”. It is sometimes easier said than done but I truly believe the best performances I have seen from referees are ones where they are relaxed and enjoying it.
What would change in referring terms about your brother?
Brian: What’s there to change!!!! I’ve heard it said that if you were to combine the strengths of each of us you would have one hell of a referee!!!!!!
John: I wish I could be as complimentary as Brian but there’s so much I would change. I would start with his shirt size!! Only joking. Family is family, so therefore he is perfect in my eyes.
Finally, it is with the deepest regret that we announce the passing of Paul Kavanagh.
‘PK’ was infamous in Suttonians RFC as a referee giving selflessly of his time to expertly ref games at all level’s. He was also active in other areas of the club. His passion for the game and his club were obvious to all who were lucky to have met him. He will be missed by all he encouraged to play the game, those he guided in their understanding of the rule of rugby. He loved seeing men and women, boys and girls play the game. He was always ready to officiate at any game and was a fixture at Suttonians Tag events.
There are so many of us who are numb with his passing and like so many people who have left this world too soon, he will not know how much he was loved by us all and will be missed deeply.
Rest in peace PK.