Red 7 (1T) v 43 (7T) Gold
A match between Red who had only won their first match of this season and Gold who are third in the table. The previous meeting had resulted in Gold winning by a three-figure margin.
Bleak weather conditions with snow flurries and, according to the Met Office, a wind chill bringing things down to -5.
The pitch had been badly flooded and had been cut into to drain it. Leaving sections extremely poor.
Both teams had a full squad and experienced front rows. Happy days….we get to scrummage.
If I had written this report yesterday I would have been very disappointed with the match. I am trying to be more reflective today.
My two week gap was telling. My positioning was poor and I kept finding myself in odd positions having not read play well. I stumbled sometimes with my signals and communication. I felt less in control than my previous matches and also less aware of some aspects of the game.
The match descended into a brawl in the last 10 minutes and I had to blow for full time 4 minutes early at the request of the skippers who felt they had lost control of their players. Joy.
The worst thing was that not a single MN player shook my hand at the end of the match, nor did they shake the hands of the opposition. That’s just very, very poor in my opinion.
But, let’s break things down and try to be more reflective.
Following on from my last assessment:
- Breakdown – get there early (third man to arrive!)
- Breakdown – positioning to get best view of ball, players and defence.
- Breakdown – tackler release, tackler away, ball available, watch arriving players.
- Lineout – don’t ball watch
- Call and signal advantage
- Use shirt colour (and number of possible) when communicating
I would have hated to watch this on video. I found myself in completely the wrong position countless times early on in the match, and couldn’t even tell you how I managed to get there. A massive step backwards from where I had managed to get myself. But I’m sure it will come flooding back.
When I was in place I think I managed the breakdown well. This was classic Level 10 stuff with increasingly chaotic play as the match progressed. But I went through my mental drills and feel I spotted the right offences regularly. The two or three occasions where a player challenged I am very confident I got right.
I used ‘ball unplayable’ early when necessary to keep the breakdown under control.
I rarely got myself into a position to watch the defence.
I was far more consistent using player numbers and shirt colours when talking to players at the breakdown.
I got a “Fellas, if we just listened to the ref instead of shouting out we would be doing a lot better”. That’s a result. Needless to sat that was a Gold player not Red.
Much better in terms of watching the players.
I felt I managed the maul from the lineout well and there was little difficulty. I even managed to spot my first example of the ball coming off the top to a player who then took it into the ‘maul’. I gave ‘accidental offside’ for this. Correct call?
Signals and Communication
Calling and signalling advantage and advantage over felt back to where I had it previously.
As I said above use of colour and number continues to improve.
I’m pretty sure that my hand signals and communication of penalty and scrum offences was not what it could have been. There were too many instances of players looking confused which is down to me. The Red skipper told me in the bar that he felt my signals could have been stronger and that his players were confused a number of times. As he put it “Sometimes they didn’t realise you had blown for a penalty. They still wouldn’t have gone back 10, but at least they’d have known that’s what they should have been doing”. He’s probably right on this occasion. He was wrong on many occasions on the pitch.
This is obviously a critical area for me because it builds everyone’s confidence in what is going on, what I am doing, and the decisions that have been made.
Application of the Laws
Overall this was a good area. One howler though when a player charged down a kick in the 22 and went on to score a try. I blew for a knock-on which of course it wasn’t. I would still be dwelling on that one if it had been a nip-and-tuck game.
Management of Players
This was a difficult area of the match. I have been to Red three times and it has always been a challenge. Gold were very good in this respect.
When ‘noise’ levels started to rise I told both skippers that their teams were in danger of being penalised if they did not stop calling out to me. That did the trick perfectly.
The game descended into a number of scuffles in the last 10 minutes. This was Red becoming tired and very frustrated. I don’t really know what I could have done to stop this. It was exactly the same pattern when I refereed the Red III’s in September. When I asked to speak to both captains I did have a comedy interaction:
Me: OK fellas, I was very clear in the briefing before the match. Who is responsible for the discipline of your players on this field?
Gold skipper: Sorry sir. That’s you sir.
Me: No Lee, that would be you.
Gold skipper: Oh. Sorry sir. Yes sir.
Red skipper: In that case sir. Can you just blow for full time, because things have got out of hand out there?
Needless to say, with 2-3 minutes remaining I duly complied.
Still feel crap about the game. I let myself down on positioning and communication. I don’t mind not advancing as much as I can because I choose not to be out there every week, but I don’t like going backwards. I will probably pull out of South West 7’s and try to get another 15s fixture next week if possible.