Blue 41 (5T) – 12 (2T) Black
Not the game that I expected to referee. Black stepped in at the last minute to make sure this ‘friendly’ match was played after the original visiting team were given a league fixture. This raised the standard of the opposition significantly and to compensate Blue brought in 4 of their first team forwards.
Weather was fair but the ground was extremely heavy and cut up very badly during the match. Due to an injury requiring an ambulance we switched pitch at half time which helped a little.
The standard of play was higher than I have previously experienced and I had a thoroughly enjoyable game. The game was also played in extremely good spirit.
- Visualise the start of the match and nail the first 15 minutes of each half.
Continue to work on position at the lineout
- Stamp out chatter and noise at the breakdown.
- Manage the breakdown at the level of the final 10 minutes of my previous match which was by far my best performance in that area to date.
Despite missing a few weeks over the Christmas break, this was my best performance of the season (i.e. of my career!). I felt fully in control of play, gained the respect of the players as the game progressed, built good relationship on the field, maintained good continuity of play and applied the laws well. Fitness levels also felt very good during a fast moving game on a difficult pitch.
Visualisation of the start of the game while in the changing room was good and I felt more engaged at the start of the match than I ever have. I let myself down on this aspect in the second half where I was more concerned about the injured player and the pitch change than I was about the likely pattern of the second half and the restart.
A development target for me is to start to notice the shirt number of offending players. I feel this improves the communication with players and their confidence in the decision, plus it allows me to more easily spot patterns with consistently offending players. I don’t do this enough at the moment.
Management of Players
I started with a very confident, direct and assertive style at the early breakdowns and this paid dividends. The entire match involved very little chatter and calling out at the breakdown. There was initially some from the Blue 5 who was by far the most talented player on the pitch (normally a First Team flanker) but even he calmed down as I spoke to him and also as he saw that I was making sound, fair, consistent decisions. He was my ‘best mate’ by the end of the match.
Discussions with the Captains was limited. I made sure I acknowledged any comments and checking in with the skippers at half time both were happy with the way the game was going.
Two player-management high points for me:
- An apology and strong agreement from the player receiving a YC for a late tackle involving no arms – “Absolutely sir. I’m sorry”.
- Overhearing a player coaching others to keep hands out of the ruck after I had consistently flagged this to players. i.e my management led to the players managing the breakdown more actively themselves.
Overall the scrum went well. I intervened early in the match to set a good standard and slowed down cadence to match the situation in front of me.
One mistake at the scrum was allowing a collapsed scrum to continue 10-15 seconds longer than I should. It was a dangerous situation that I missed initially and could have led to a serious injury.
Lineout is starting to become an area that I want to focus more on. I have improved in terms of my positioning and managing the gap, but the following areas are ones I would like to improve:
- Positioning still doesn’t feel right to me. I am getting stranded too much when the lineout is won and the ball comes quickly to the receiver. One to discuss.
- I am not signalling to the backs when the lineout is over, and probably not monitoring the offside enough.
- My monitoring of offside at the scrum and breakdown is improving but needs to remain a focus.
Point of Law
Overall I thought I applied the laws well. Two areas for improvement:
- I still do not give the option to the skipper when a ball is kicked through in-goal. I tend to signal a drop-out rather than offering the scrum option.
- I should have given a Yellow Card for a tip tackle (or at least had a strong word) but I missed the shirt number of the offending player who had legged it by the time I had checked the injured player was ok.
I caught myself with my hands on my hips at one point. A really odd habit and terrible body language.
Looking forward to my assessor coming to see my in a couple of weeks to tell me what my whistle tone is like. I struggle to monitor it myself.
Proposed Areas for Focus
- Lineout – agree an approach with my buddy on positioning and put it into action.
- Lineout – start to communicate more with the backs and monitor them.
- Increase my use for shirt numbers for offences.
- Remember options available especially in-goal.