A warm welcome to another edition of referees corner and the first Investec Champions Cup game in the RDS this season. Today’s match officials are Pierre Brousset (Fra) avec Vincent Blasco (Fra) et Kevin Bralley (Fra). The TMO is Denis Grenouillet (Fra) and the Citing Commissioner is Wejdane Limame (Fra). Barry O’Keeffe of the IRFU is the Timing Official. Pierre was the man in the middle when we took on Northampton Saints in 2020 and Bath in the 21/22 season.
The Top 14 referee was promoted to the World Rugby panel for the rugby sevens season in 2017 and was chosen by the World Rugby match officials selection panel to represent France during the 2016-2017 season of the 7-a-side world circuit . In 2019 he was promoted to the French National Panel.
He has been a regular referee in the European Rugby Champions Cup and EPCR Challenge Cup also.He made his debut refereeing in the 2021–22 United Rugby Championship, refereeing the match between Benetton and Connacht, becoming the 8th Frenchman to referee in the competition.
Leinster Rugby Referees held a New Referees Course in theIRFU High Performance Centre recently. The course was open to those aged 18 – 59, who would like to take up refereeing as a hobby and become members of Leinster Rugby Referees. We had a turnout of almost 20 new referees. Sean Gallagher led the session and talked the referees through the finer points of refereeing, the laws, and the art of refereeing. Referees will receive mentoring and support on an ongoing basis once they begin the trial member process. This will include three follow up workshops which usually run for 90 minutes once a month. Progression to full membership is based on a combination of ability, commitment and fitness.
Our last Area Meetings of the season took place over the last few weeks. The topic this month was Game Management. As always Sean Gallagher of the IRFU had put together a short presentation and discussion clips that will outline simple actions that referees can take to improve their control and communication – leading to better game management. The sessions were great and led by Dermot Blake, Paul Haycock, Mark Hynes, John Dunne and Sean himself. Looking forward to January and the next set of education modules.
It was a shame to see Referee/TMO Tom Foley step back after recent levels of abuse aimed towards him. “The pressure and scrutiny I came under after the Rugby World Cup final, along with a torrent of criticism and abuse online, has helped to reaffirm that this is the right decision for me at this point in my life,” Foley said in a statement released by the Rugby Football Union.
As Wayne Barnes recently said “Criticism quickly becomes abuse and abuse can become threats. People in those positions need to realise the consequences of what they do. Governing bodies need to punish them for overstepping the mark.” Last year referee abuse reared its head again. It was great to see Joy Neville speak out about the abuse rugby referees continue to receive from fans and competitors. At the same time it is a pity she has to say anything at all. As Joy said at the time “I don’t like social media, it’s used as a weapon by people and I don’t like the lack of accountability. I’m nearly 40, I have a great support structure at home but I do worry about young people who don’t have that life experience. I do really think social media is dangerous. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as a group, we know we are there to create a platform for teams to play so it’s important for us to be physically and mentally in the best shape. So pressure comes internally and externally. You have to have mental strength to filter negative stuff.”
The struggle becomes bigger for Unions and Associations like the Leinster Rugby Referees when trying to recruit ex-players or others interested in becoming referees. When they see the level of abuse that can sometimes be directed at professional referees or even the amateur ones they think about how it might be directed at them. Maybe a Saturday on the couch watching TV is the nicer way to enjoy rugby. Let’s hope high profile cases like Tom Foley, Wayne Barnes and others can make people think and hopefully we can stamp out referee abuse.
Want to get involved?
Feel free to make contact with the Leinster Rugby Referees at firstname.lastname@example.org If you are interested in becoming a referee get in contact with us through our Facebook, our website www.leinsterrugbyreferees.ie or through twitter @leinsterreferee.