Post-tour thoughts

I’m writing this a week after arriving home. Wanted to have some time to think about things before I wrote this one. Here goes:

The rugby

The primary reason for us being there! As Ive alluded to over the last few weeks, we quickly came to the conclusion that the pace and speed of the game was above that which we were used to. However the skill levels weren’t up to it and couldn’t compete with national league rugby in England.  It wasn’t until the last night’s games that I refereed anything resembling the structured game we know and love back here. The frantic nature of their rugby was exciting, but entirely unpredictable. I re-watched bits of one of my DVDs the other lunchtime (including the comedy sending off incident) and that confirmed my thoughts.

 The professional game

We are used to a much more professional set up than they have out there. In many cases, they don’t have dedicated changing facilities, they don’t have someone who meets you and looks after you and many of the other things we enjoy back here. Speaking to the refs out there, there is little communication between clubs and referees. No-one I spoke to trained with clubs, although I believe that is now being discussed. It can only benefit everyone involved if it happens.

The social

This is where they compete handsomely. We were treated so well and looked after by Natal referees and the game itself. Where the clubs lack in professionalism, they make up for it in the bar! Down-downs as they call them are all the rage and the referees are not left out. I thank those guys who took my drinks on my (tea-total) behalf!

South Africa

Well, where do I begin. They are still struggling to get back on a level playing field, that the politics is interfering where it really shouldn’t. After so many years of apartheid, there is now a real sense of injustice and a big re-balancing game is now underway. In every aspect of life, there are targets and quota’s where ‘formerly deprived people’ have to be represented. Therefore in every refereeing group there has to be set numbers of whites, and set numbers of non-whites, whether they be black, Indian or anything else.  That has been causing problems, as seen recently in the national playing squad where people are not necessarily selected on merit. Imagine having an RWP squad here formed of people where their selection is based on racial grounds. That’s how it is out there. That’s not to say that there are some excellent referees from all backgrounds – I saw an awful lot of them and wish everyone well in their respective careers.

Our trip to the township was an eye-opener and just showed that the gap between haves and have-nots is just as prevalent as it ever was. I’m sure the moves the government are making will have a positive effect, but its going to take a lot of time and continued effort to bring those deprived areas back up to even basic civilisation. Running water and plumbing is still a dream for many.


As you may have gathered, I had a great time out there, experiencing everything they threw at us. We saw everything, the good, the bad, the hopeful. 

Was a great way to end my first year as a National Panel referee and will set me up nicely for the season to come. Hopefully not having too much time off from training will pay dividends when it comes to preseason fitness tests and those all important first games of the season.

I’ve enjoyed writing this blog and, hopefully you, my lovely readers, have found it interesting. I’ll be carrying on the blog throughout the summer and into the season to come.

Keep coming back and let’s start having some discussions on the comments sections.



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1 Comment

  1. K
    Really interesting stuff and some things never change – I played in Joburg area in late 1970s as schoolboy and in my early 20s.
    Rest of Society will be intersted to hear more !
    A great learning experience for you.


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