Happy New Year to everyone. It is great to see some rugby back on the pitch after the Christmas break. We hope that everyone enjoys today’s fixture. Today’s referee is one of the finest in the world – Wayne Barnes. Wayne is no stranger to the RDS or Dublin. We extend our heartiest congratulations to him on his 250th Premiership game last weekend and wish him and his team the best of success today. From a referees point of view, it is always a pleasure to watch Wayne officiate.
Last October CYM Terenure Player and one of newer referees Aude de Casanove was presented with her referee’s jersey for passing her trial. Aude hails from France. With many delays since she started out, Aude kept on plugging away and passed with flying colours. I had the chance to catch up with her over December.
What made you decide to take up the whistle?
I thought it could be good to have one more woman with the whistle, especially because back then I don’t think I had seen any in the matches I had been playing or supporting in the metro league. Besides, I was hoping it would help me be a better player.
How long are you refereeing now?
2 years and a half now, but with COVID in the middle it’s been only a year of active service I’d say!
What is the biggest thing you have learned since you started out?
That “I can”. I can be in the one in the middle, holding the whistle and standing my ground. Yes I make mistakes, and sometimes I am unsure, but in a whole match there will be many good calls too.
What was the process like to become a referee?
It was very straightforward. Sent an email to come to a workshop, received a call from Sue to check on my motivations and availability, did the theory online test and went to the workshop. A week after, I was refereeing for the time.
What is your training regime like?
I am still playing myself so I don’t have a specific training for refereeing. But it’s rugby Monday and Wednesday, and gym with the girls on Thursday.
What is your favourite thing about refereeing?
I really like being the one making the calls. There is no “oh come on ref” when you are the ref. Do you miss something or lose control of a situation? It’s on you, take it home and work on it. Do you have a very smooth game with decisions you are confident about? Good on you, take it home and make sure to keep that standard. At the end of the day, you want to give your best so that the 30 people running at each other can do it in a safe, fair and enjoyable way.
What is the most memorable game you have refereed so far?
I didn’t referee that many matches yet but I would say it would be the division 10 metro league Coolmine against Emerald Warriors. It was a great match, both teams gave their best while being very friendly and respectful but I remember it especially because it was my first time wearing the official jersey and it hit differently!
What is your pre – match routine like?
The routine would start the day before the match, when I would check the colours of the teams, the league and the particularity that may come with the level. I also have a look at some specific laws that I may have a doubt about or a point I think I did not handle well the match before and that I need to focus on. Then in the morning, I try to visualise myself at the kick off, review the options, same for the first scrum and the first line out. Then I head out to the location to be on site around an hour before kick off. I introduce myself to the coaches and the team, do the checks and then my warm up.
What are your refereeing aspirations?
As I am still playing myself, I can hardly commit to more than one match a week so I am happy in the metro league. When I retire I’ll be more available and then we’ll see but I am not planning on doing so quite yet !
Who is your idol or favourite referee and why?
I don’t really have an idol but I like Hollie Davidson as I always find her very clear and straightforward when communicating her decisions; and Romain Poite (allez les bleus!)
What will make you improve as a referee?
Refereeing more games and if possible getting feedback from more experienced referees. The best way to learn how to handle a situation or what call to make is to face it and learn from it
What advice would you give to someone thinking about taking up refereeing?
Grab a (Acme Thunderer) whistle and give it a try, there’s nothing to lose and a lot to learn!
Referees sometimes come in for a fair bit of stick during games, how do you deal with it?
I faced it for the first time in my third match ever, a U14 girls. It’s a bit early in a referee’s career to be called a thief and a cheat… Since then it happens regularly, sometimes I just “have no clue” and sometimes I’m “a disgrace that should stick to underage”. Luckily I also got matches with very good comments and most of the time people are quite nice and respectful!
To be fair these tough matches were the ones that taught me the most about communication and escalation and how to keep control of the situation. Besides, you learn to make the difference between what is a relevant remark and what is background noise.
Also you can report any abuse to the branch so it helps to know that you can get some support if you feel that someone has crossed the line.
Do you any self-analysis after games?
Of course. I think about the match and compare it to the targets I had set earlier in the day. Did I deliver a safe and enjoyable match? Did I handle the ruck/line outs/scrum better than last time? Was there something I was not satisfied with and I want to work on next time? And if there was a moment when I was unsure I was making the right call, I have a look at the laws to see if I was right or wrong
Want to get involved?
Feel free to make contact with the Leinster Rugby Referees at email@example.com 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.