This article appeared in the Exeter Matchday Program
Welcome to another fun packed edition of referees corner. A very warm welcome also to our referee Pascal Gauzère (Fra) and his team of Maxime Chalon (Fra) Jean-Luc Rebollal (Fra) and television match official Eric Gauzins (Fra). The Champions and Challenge Cup back to back weekend is one of the best fortnights of rugby in the year and also one of the busiest times for our referees. There are no fewer than 20 Irish referees officiating this weekend across Europe this weekend with many of our Leinster referees involved.
We extend warm congratulations to Joy Neville from the Munster Association of Referees. Joy was awarded the World Rugby Referee of the Year award for 2017. The former Ireland international and Grand Slam winner earned the accolade on the back of an incredible year on the pitch. She was one of the first female referees to take charge of a men’s a men’s international game, and this weekend she will become the first woman to referee a European professional club fixture, when she officiates a Challenge Cup clash between Bordeaux-Bègles and Enisei-STM.
Who would be a ref?
Who would be a Ref? The familiar cry in virtually all team sports has been heard in rugby circles down through the years but in some ways rugby is becoming one of the most attractive sports to referee in the world of sports.
At the dawn of professionalism World Rugby recognised pretty quickly that for the game to move forward with these seismic changes referees would have to move forward with the times. Professional referees were needed and the various unions set about establishing National and international panels of referees. Today the IRFU has one of the strongest panels of the leading unions and announced earlier this year made the move to reward seven referees with professional contracts. The referees will receive dedicated coaching, analysis and support for their strength & conditioning and nutritional needs. Many of these referees were already IRFU staff. World Rugby’s refereeing department is current managed and guided by former Leinster and Ireland referee Alain Rolland.
Many followers of other sports will often refer with envy to the respect referees receive on the field of play, the general lack of back chat, the respect afforded and the strong punishment handed down for players who don’t control themselves on the pitch. Throw in a professional contract and the opportunity to travel far and wide and you surely would have had huge numbers lining up to take up the whistle.
Well, not exactly. Refereeing numbers in Ireland are still low today and the IRFU are constantly looking more clubs to actively promote refereeing as a viable option among club members. They are also looking to introduce a younger age group to the benefits of refereeing on the international stage.
How does the process work once someone signs up?
- Sign up to a recruitment course: The IRFU and Leinster run a number of courses a year in each province and advertise these in match programmes and on the Irish rugby website. The day long courses introduce perspective referees to the basics of refereeing.
- Become a trial member and attend one of a series of workshops in your province. Perspective Referees receive a trial pass and start to referee each week where they will be assessed.
- After graduating from the trial panel and attending a wide range of courses, the new member will join the Level 1 and Level 2 panels, which is for referees with medium to long term potential where they will referee up to Junior League level. They will also attend a number of coaching workshops.
- The next step is Level 3 where the referee has been identified as having potential for the National panel. here they will referee Junior 1 games and attend a number of workshops.
- The next step is to be put onto the IPAS (Inter Provincial Assessment Panel) panel (level 4). This is where you referee outside your province and are assessed by members of the other associations or society as it is known in Ulster. The IPAS system means the whole country has a similar type of scoring system and is proving to be an efficient away to assessing referees who are looking to get onto the National Panel
- Once you pass through IPAS you are now fully qualified to referee on the National B panel and can referee at Junior, Ulster Bank League Division 2 and 3 and a range of under age inter provincials.
- The next step is to become a National A panel referee. There are currently 17 referees in this position and they can referee matches up to Ulster Bank League Division 1A and B and touch judge in the Guinness Pro 14 League before hopefully graduating to the contracted panel of 15 referees. Here they will referee Ulster Bank League, Guinness PRO12, Challenge and Champions Cup games plus a range of Internationals from under age to full.
- The final step is to become an international referee.
Have you got what it takes? The Leinster Referees always need more referees and opting to become one may be the best decision you’ve made for a long time. We are running a new referees course in January, details following soon. We wish all our readers a Happy Holiday Season.
If you are interested in becoming a referee get in contact with us through our Facebook and Google + pages, our website www.arlb.ie or through twitter @leinsterreferee.