Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Simply not acceptable

Much has been made in the press about events during and after the Coventry v Moseley match last week in the Championship.

For the record, Moseley won this fiercely-fought Midlands derby 25-28, with the referee awarding the visitors three penalty tries, the last deep into injury time.
I was not at the match and have not seen replays of it, but I understand that Coventry missed some kicks at goal and had chances to win the game, but did not.

The furore that has surrounded the game has, unfortunately, delved into the realms of that normally associated with football, in that the behaviour of some people (and I will refrain from calling them fans) after the final whislte was abhorrent. An alleged punch was aimed at the official and beer thrown over him, while a torrent of abuse was shouted as he made his way to the changing room.

Put simply, there is no place for this type of behaviour in our sport - and when the ink has barely dried on the RFU's Core Values statement, credit goes to Coventry RFC in taking swift action to identify the perpatrators and, hopefully, ban him/them for life.

As referees we've all at some time been a "pressure cooker" game, although it's fair to say that most will be a million miles away from the intensity of a Midlands derby in English rugby's tier-two competition.

Regardless, the referee would have gone out there and done his utmost to perform to the best of his abilities, and sometimes when the pressure comes on we all make decisions that - while in the comfort of a sofa with a DVD - we may not have otherwise. That's rugby - played by humans, refereed by humans.

But the press and local media have deemed to jump on the "age" bandwagon, as the referee in question is 21-years-old.
Cries of "he 'ain't old enough" and "what experience has he got?" have echoed around the Midlands for sure, but, like any other referee at the level, he would have gone through endless match assessments, performance reviews, training sessions, etc, to have proved his worth at that level.

Occasionaly the powers that be have to take a punt - fortune favours the brave after all, and I've no doubt the RFU firmly believed in his capabilites and potentional, and I have no doubt they still do.

Ask any referee and they will tell you that you learn more from the hard games than you do the good - and most of it comes down to how we deal with pressure.
The best, the very best, are past masters at it, while the rest of us keep forging away at working out the most effective plan on deflecting it.

Maybe the referee's calls at Coventry were right, maybe they were not - but no referee ever goes out there to make the wrong ones.

I stand by the fact that for someone as young as this referee is to go there and make some huge calls against the home side in a local derby says a lot.
And while the ins and outs of how he dealt with the pressure (rightly or wrongly) will no doubt be analysised by his bosses, I take my hat off to him and hope he bounces back very soon.

And I have no doubt he will.


José Ignacio said...

Hi, Clare,

Good story. It's a pity but refereeing is no longer a fairy tale.
We have same problems in Spain: Referees are the EVIL of rugby game.
Best regards from Spain

Clare Daniels said...

Hi Jose,

Thanks for your comment. Nice to hear from you!

I am of the opinion that banter from the sidelines towards a referee is part of sport, but I would like to think that most sane rugby supporters out there know where to draw the line.

Apparantley some do not - they are not "fans", they are not "supporters" of our game. They are morans.

I hope Coventry's bid to identify the idiot involved proved fruitfull.

I do hear that rugby referees seem to get a tougher time in France and Spain, maybe the unions need to do something about it.

For now, though, enjoy your game this weekend.