This article appeared in the Northampton Saints match day program.
A warm welcome to Romain Poite and his team of Tual Trainini, Mathieu Noirot and Eric Briquet-Campin today. 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. This weekend sees John Carvill in Glasgow assisting George Clancy, whilst Brian MacNeice is in the TMO box in Bordeaux. Dudley Phillips, Helen O’Reilly and Kevin Beggs are in Stade Francias whilst Gary Conway is in Newcastle. Good luck to them all.
The IRFU’s Referees Department will place a renewed focus on existing foul play laws to remove illegal and dangerous collision based contact from domestic competitions in Ireland.
The areas of focus centre on foul play at the tackle, the breakdown and off-the-ball contact. These offences will be upgraded to penalties and yellow or red cards depending on the severity of the incident.
The aim of this initiative is to soften the impact of the tackle and ruck or maul entry by removing shoulder first or shoulder only contact. i.e. shoulder charging with no attempt or a late attempt to wrap arms upon contact. There will also be a renewed focus on protecting players in vulnerable or prone positions in rucks and mauls.
The law interpretations will be enforced in all competitions from U13 age grade through to the Ulster Bank League. Under the umbrella of the Ref SMART programme a series of instruction videos have been produced to inform coaches and players of the illegal actions that will be clamped down on this season. These videos are available online at www.irishrugby.ie/rugbysmart.
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 the IRB 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.
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 dangerously 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 Leister 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 an 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 12 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.
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.