BIg game time!

Well, I must have been a good boy of late. Got 1 v 2 next Saturday. Wonder when they calls about that will start!?!

Could be fun! And I’m really looking forward to it. Had a good week with an A League game on Monday and then a trip to the SW yesterday. Two very different games, but solid games, no drama or controversy, and happy watching people.

Trick this weekend will be to keep focused, not get dragged into anything, keep on my toes and let the players play the game they want and for them to decide what the outcomes will be.

Easy eh……

First month in

Well, here we are nearing the end of September and we’re well into the new season.

2 Pre-season games, 2 Championship games reffed, 1 Championship game AR’d and 2 National One games reffed. What next? Who knows. Waiting on appointments but hoping for another batch of Champ games. Nothing to suggest I won’t but we just don’t know how everyone else is performing and appointments are done on form (and rightly so!)

So anything new learnt? No, not really, I stand by my last but one post. Last two NL1 games have really shown me the gap between them and the Championship. Huge! Intensity is nowhere near, crowds are nowhere near but we still have to adapt accordingly and make sure they sides still decide the outcome of these games. A 55 v 5 thriller for me this weekend left little room for controversy.

Enjoying the season so far. Hope it carries on!

2 weeks in….

… and what have I learnt?

Well that we officials are already under the spotlight (see results so far in the Championship!) and we’re having to make sure our accuracy is well near perfect!

Breakdown – The new interpretations (not laws!) certainly make life a little easier – well, at least for me as I have a pretty clear picture in my mind of what is allowed to happen, who is allowed to do what, and how I can best communicate it. This does mean that the line about us getting to the breakdown quickly is ever more important. Thank goodness for those darned PT sessions and all the hard work put in during the last few weeks .

Scrum – new engagement sequence helps. Must stay firm on the Pause. Think my analysis this week of last weekend will show a slip from the week before.  Dichotomy between what we’re supposed to do, and whether there’s any impact if they both go in early but scrummage well. I’m generally in the “leave them to it”  camp, but in the interests of consistency Im sure I need to change that pronto!

Players – don’t know if this is just early season excitedness, but Im getting a feeling of much more positivity around the park in my first few games. Makes the standout negative plays more definite to deal with and in last 2 Championship games Ive had two of the easiest Yellow Cards to dish out you’ll ever see.  One DOR was criticised for saying his player ‘took one for the team’ but I guess that’s what these pro’s do.  And helps with our new mantra of “Clear and obvious”.

Comms kit – hoorah, we have some really great new comms kit which Im liking rather a lot. We refs are on an open mic system where the ARs can hear me all the time and they press to talk when they have something for me. Pic here of one [handsome] Champ referee with the Madonna look!

So far, they’ve worked really well and from the AR feedback I’ve had, it really benefits them as they can hear me dealing with things (or not) so they know what input they need to make. They’re the same as they use in the Premiership so hopefully they’ll last OK.

Well – that’s it for me now. Some early thoughts with 2 pre-season friendlies and 2 league games under my belt. Questions anyone?

Championship final

Just a quick note to wish both Bristol and Exeter the very best for tomorrow night’s final Championship game.

First leg last week was a great game – mainly defense but positively so – which sets up a fascinating game tomorrow evening.

Have to say that Im disappointed not to be involved in some way, but we knew this would be an Elite show with so much at stake, and I also wish Smally and his sidekicks all the very best for an anonymous evening under the collective radar.

End of season review in a few days!

Happy Easter

Got a bit of a manic week so best get in early and wish you all, my dear readers, a happy Easter.

Hope you get some rest and relaxation over the weekend. R&R isn’t something in vast supply for anyone involved in the Championship. Got to wait five weeks before we get to see any of that!

Enjoy whatever you get up to this Easter!


Pressure is on!

Well, after a long trek up north for a relegation play off, it seems the pressure is building nicely!

The Championship, for those who don’t know is this year being decided by a lottery play off system with the top 8 (as of last weekend) playing off in 2 pools to end up with a deciding match for who gets promoted* and the bottom 4 playing off in a pool at the end of which the bottom side gets relegated.  I’m not going to get into the politics of all this – there’s plenty of chat around about that elsewhere (check out Rolling Maul for starters!).  All we can do as referees/officials is to rock up and referee what we see in front of us!

Yesterday, I officiated in round one of the relegation pool. Two very focussed sides before the game and you could tell this was all different – and important.

As it turns out, the home side played much better than the visitors and thoroughly deserved to win the game, and with the added try bonus point to boot! I think this pool could come down to bonus points at the end of the day so we’re having to be absolutely aware of all the scenarios etc, make sure we are 100% accurate on time and to let the players decide on the outcomes of the match. Yesterday was a good example of that with the home side scoring their fourth (bonus point) try well after time was up on my watch following a lengthy passage of attacking play.

For those of you berating the 6N games for being pants, an afternoon in the Championship could be an eyeopener!!

Next weekend? Who knows! Appointments are being made on a week-by-week basis and with some results yesterday,  I suspect the draft may have been ripped up and they’ll try again today. Interesting few weeks ahead!

* Actually there are only 2 sides I believe have met the Premiership criteria, so will be v interesting to see what happens if neither gets to the final or wins it!

Another Championship Club in serious trouble

Well, after the woes of Nottingham last season, London Welsh and Birmingham earlier this season, Coventry appear to be in all kinds of trouble.

A statement from the club owner issued earlier today said this:

Written by Andrew Green
Tuesday, 01 December 2009
It is with great regret that Coventry RFC Limited has announced today that it has taken the decision to close the club. Over the past three years the club has tried to overcome many problems and set itself a secure future, unfortunately due to many issues, some inside and some outside of its control, this has not been possible.

The club, like many other sporting organisations, has struggled as a result of the changing economy; however the club has been involved in complex legal problems and as a result doesn’t even have a lease to be at the Butts Park Arena. This situation has arisen despite promises and assurances from various financial organisations to provide the club with a lease after action was taken over a year ago to resolve the problems.

The club simply cannot carry on with such an uncertain future. The club has debts and creditors that it has a responsibility to pay and has carried on because of promises and solutions they would bring. Unfortunately and unlike most companies the club doesn’t have any options to re-finance despite several interested parties/investors offering funding. This is because it doesn’t have a lease for The Butts Park Arena, 8 acres of public land that was given to the club for its financial future some 6 years ago by Coventry City Council.

This is a very sad day for rugby in Coventry; however the club just can’t ignore the present situation regarding its debts and creditors.

I know a lot of the guys at Coventry and personally, I really do wish them well. There’s clearly a major problem with the game if clubs like Coventry cannot carry on.  I guess we wait and see what happens next.

My week ahead

Well, this week could be interesting. I’ve got an important game next weekend and will be interesting to see how many calls I get about the game.

With the new playoff format in the Championship, it’s not as huge as it would have been last season, but nonetheless, it’s a top game and there’ll be 30 players plus wanting to stay/be top of the table at the end of next weekend.  And lil old me in the middle of it all.

These are the games we exist for. Really looking forward to it. I have to train well this week, mentally prepare, and get out there and do my thing next Saturday – i.e. let the players decide the outcome of the game.


First few games

Well, a fun few weeks – sorry for the lack of posts.

Well, Ive reffed two proper games (Champ v Prem and Nat2s league game) and all going well.

Few observations:
1) New tackle law is confusing for us all. Leading to more unplayables and more pens. Hopefully will all settle down soon. Can’t quite get my head round saying less, later (if that makes sense). Hard to be preventative really.

2) Tackler shifting must still be our priority

3) Championship looks (on the first weekend’s results) that it could lead to a fun season. Of course, most only have to finish in top 8 before the real fun begins.

4) The difference between 8th and 9th is where pressure is really going to be in the Championship this side of January. Difference between being in chance for play off for glory, or in play off for relegation could be points difference. Jeepers! Wonder where the pressure will be put?!?!