Tournament week is over, and well done to Easts – who won the Bill McLaren tournament; and Remuera – who won the Walter Dickson. Both very good teams who played consistently good rugby.
I had the same game today as I’d had on Tuesday, playing off for 5th and 6th, but what a difference. Both teams had figured out how to play together, and they played good rugby. I only had to speak to the captains once. It’s a pity there’s not another week, the teams would probably be unrecognisable.
Although the pain in my hips and knees is reminding me that I’ve been doing a lot of refereeing and I didn’t exactly treat my joints nicely in the past. Owwie.
The tournament saw some complaints about referees coaching teams, or blowing too many penalties. Two sides of the same coin really – coach a team too much and the opposition will get rightly irritated. Blow too many penalties in the hope the players will get a clue (Pro-tip: They won’t) then that team will get irritated.
No one wants to be on the whistle the whole game. At this level, the kids want to run with the ball and score tries – not take endless penalties. I kind of see my role as facilitating that desire to run and score – if there’s doubt, I’m always going to rule in favour of positive play.*
But if I do coach a team, I don’t want to sound like a coach. Coaching should be a collaborative process, but if I get too collaborative with one team, the other will (probably rightly) accuse me of bias. So I just try to make it sound like I’m telling a player off, rather than helping him. Kids this age can spot someone trying to be their friend a mile away, and it’s not going to happen. Instead I use ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ so it sounds like an obligation, and hope to work with mutual respect between me and the players.
(Aside: after uni, I very seriously considered going to teachers college to become an intermediate school teacher. I think kids this age are really cool.)
Personally, this tournament was much MUCH better than the last one. It was really great to get positive feedback from teams, organisers, and from the other referees there. I enjoy the feeling that I’m improving, even if I’m not refereeing higher grades than in the past, the games are still getting better.
Three trips to Oareki Park, plus one down to Dunkirk Road, and the kilometres traveled comes in at just over 100 for the week. I’m almost at 900 total, which is like 80% of the way from my flat to Christchurch.
*Note: This is at under 13 level – if you’re old enough to actually read the rules, I’m going to assume you understand them, and my tolerance for illegal play drops as your ability to play rises.