Hello to everyone involved in rugby in Staffordshire.
You may be aware of a number incidents at games in Staffordshire and North Midlands that have caused great concern to both SRUSR and SRU so I think that now would be a good time for some observations from my perspective as SRUSR Chair and occasional referee.
SRUSR will not tolerate any abuse by anyone toward any volunteer referees, whether they be society referees or club referees. The society, incidentally, offers its support to all referees in Staffordshire.
SRUSR is greatly appreciative of the work of the SRU Disciplinary Panel.
Will players and coaches please stop appealing for every perceived infringement! It may be perceived that any subsequent whistle is influenced by that appeal, so the opposition follow suit. It is for the referee to decide whether the infringement was ‘game affecting’ and whether advantage should be played. Besides, the referee may not have been in a position to see the offence in the first place which is something quite different!
The society recognises that the provision of pitchside barriers around first team pitches is, shall we say, variable and our referees have been instructed to take a fairly relaxed approach and to not go looking for trouble if none exists. However, ensuring that there is safe separation of spectators from players is, in the first instance, the collective responsibility of the home club and all spectators and not the referee. If there is encroachment and the home club is not able to control the touchline then the referee will have to take action (moving spectators to a safe position) and report this back to the society. Of course, those wishing to stand inside the barriers will have to produce, on request of the referee, their letter of exemption from the RFU. The application form can be found at www.englandrugby/pitchside/specialcase/nochance
With regard to technical areas, RFU regulation 13.7.5 states that the coaching staff are confined to a dugout/shelter (if one exists), otherwise they must stand behind the barrier – I bet you didn’t know that! The convention within Staffordshire is that a coach should be allowed to stand in the technical area. Again, our advice to our referees is to not go looking for trouble, etc. however coaches wandering up and down the touchline will not be tolerated; if they insist on wandering up and down the touchline then of course they are free to do so behind the barrier.
RFU regulations state that coaches are not permitted to have a discussion (unless invited to do so) with the referee at half-time and for 30 minutes after the end of the game. So calm down, get your breath back and have a drink! This advice applies to referees, coaches and spectators.
I should mention that infringement of the various RFU regulations mentioned above could result in disciplinary action under 5.12 ‘conduct which is prejudicial to the interests of the Union or the Game’ (otherwise known as ‘deep doo-doo), so please engage brain before, etc.
It is the responsibility of both teams to provide a touch judge who is ideally not one of the replacements. I cannot tell you how good it feels to see a familiar and trusted ‘club’ touch judge (with their own flag!). Two points – firstly, the touch judge is not there to collect the ball (one of the perks of the job) and secondly any derogatory comment made to the volunteer t/judge will be treated as if it were directed to the referee.
Judging by the lack of requests from clubs asking referees to pop down and have a chat about game management and points of Law, we can assume that players and club referees all have a knowledge and understanding of the Laws of the Game. Game time is not the place for a discussion with a referee – that will have to wait until after the game and take place over a pint (or two).
And finally, apologies to anyone who has tried to click on the spoof webpage!
In anticipation of enjoyable rugby, Paul Daniels