Match Report – 9th October 2016

Red v White
(Level 10 match. Weather fair. Pitch good)
Score: 20 – 3

A game that was far closer than the score would seem. Still 0-0 at 20 minutes and 7-3 by half time. Both teams are towards the top of the division and have ‘history’ in terms of vying for top spot. Red had no substitutes and so were tiring by the end of the match. Nevertheless they were the fitter, more accurate team and came a away with a comfortable margin.

My Agreed targets for Improvement

  1. Improve assertiveness. Focusing on clear primary and secondary signals. Body language. Strong use of whistle and whistle tone (especially at penalties).
  2. First 15 minutes (both halves). Set the standards early especially in terms of the breakdown and backchat from players.
  3. Positioning at scrum and breakdown. Make sure I am moving backwards to give a wider viewing angle, and also turning to more easily see the defensive line.
  4. Smile.


I pray for the day when pre-match nerves are not this bad! I’m sure it will come with time and experience, but I am still extremely anxious until I pull on the shirt. The minute I walk out for the pre-match routine I am fine though.I could just do without the 24 hrs of nausea beforehand.
It was clear from the off that this was going to be a fiercely competitive game. The game was played at a very high pace with a lot of defensive kicking. Let’s just say I can feel it in my legs today.
I thoroughly enjoyed the game. The standard was the highest I have covered. It was played in a good spirit and I felt I contributed well to the game.


At the breakdown I did consistently manage to give myself more space and repeatedly had a good view of the defensive line. I’m sure I didn’t get it right every time, but this was definitely an area where I improved from the last match. I was amazed at how much more I could see and how I had more time. I must have been breathing down people’s necks at the breakdown previously.
I am still getting in the way of players however. In particular the defensive 7 – who politely asked me to think about leaving his channel free.
Overall control of the breakdown still did not feel good. In fact, it varied through the match. In the second half in particular it seemed to be more under my control. But I don’t recall doing anything different. The highly competitive game at this level of rugby meant there were many, many players involved at almost every instance. I’m just not seeing the patterns (tackler release, tackler away, ball available, back-foot, no hands etc.) clearly enough and quickly enough to be more in control. (It may of course be that I am being harsh on myself – the Red coach at the end of the game said he thought I managed the breakdown particularly well and kept the game flowing very well).


This still needs more work. I actually thought that I had stepped my assertiveness up a level.
  • I controlled discussions with players by referring them to their captain.
  • I told the Red coach that he could say all he liked to his players, but any comments towards me were to stop immediately (he apologised and said nothing more for the rest of the game).
  • In general I was far more positive with signals and whistle.
But the first things one of the players said to me at the end of the game was “If you don’t mind me saying sir. Your decisions today were spot on, but you shouldn’t let people on either side talk to you like they did today. Just reverse a couple of decisions and we’ll all shut up”. This is exactly the same feedback as from the captain in my last match. So, still work to be done. The chatter from the players wasn’t in any way abusive or aggressive, it was just incessant appeals against the other players, especially at the breakdown.
So still work to be done and help to be given on this front. We’ll get there.


I did. Though probably not as much as I could have as the game intensity increased.

Points of Law

In a bizarre moment, the White players had a 22 drop out. Instead the 10 took a quick tap and passed the ball. I spotted the issue but then had a complete blank on the options available. I wrongly awarded a Free Kick to Red. I’ll know it’s retake or scrum at centre of 22 next time.
I incorrectly penalised for playing a player in the air when the player was competing for the ball.
I called ‘advantage over’ in a ruck just as the ball popped to the 9s hands 🙁

Comedy Moment

The Red 10 went for a drop goal. I noticed him drop back and thought “That’s odd, anyone would think he’s going to attempt a drop. Hold on he is attempting a drop!”. I went in to slow motion, but he basically kicked the ball horizontally and hit me straight in the face from about 10m. I kept my dignity and saved his blushes.

Points to work on

Not massively different in my mind
  1. Even more assertiveness.
  2. Keep reinforcing the movement improvements at the breakdown and scrum.
  3. Study video of the breakdown and focus on patterns and what my calls would have been.
  4. Keep smiling

3 thoughts on “Match Report – 9th October 2016”

  1. Don’t mistake assertive with selling a decision. A confident smile and arm movement counts just as much – and better – than stern “I am right look”

    Think about what you’re trying to achieve and work backwards from that

    1. I couldn’t agree more Simon. With more experience now I try to adapt my style to the situation. I always try to build a positive relationship with the captains and players throughout the match. Bit I have found that assertiveness at the start of a match in order to set out my stall and make sure that players understand that I won’t take any nonsense is a good approach – especially at the level that I referee where the teams are heavily seeded with old-hands who know all the tricks in the book.

      Add to that that I am not a naturally assertive person So my assertive is probably someone else’s easy-going. I keep this in mind so that I don’t become far too passive.

  2. After many years playing the game (I retired at the age of 56) I was fascinated to read your report. My first thought was if Rugger Refs have pre-match nerves what on earth must it be like for soccer refs?
    As one of those grizzled old props I learnt to treat the ref in the same manner as the weather. Arguing never stopped it raining you just change tactics to suit. All referees have their foibles the trick is to use them to your own advantage. I only raised my voice on two occasions one because an unconscious player was choking, the other because it was definitely my round. Keep up the good work 🙂

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