Mummy’s Boy

537268_519694411384397_485266905_nThat’s Orene Ai’i, sporting some truly spectacular jocks right there.

I’ll continue the Odyssey, I promise, all three parts of it, but I thought I’d write this little anecdote from my game today before I forget it in a haze of 5am starts.

There was a fight. One player hit another, the other player retaliated, they both got sent off.

The mother of the boy who retaliated was very upset, and in true Samoan matriarch fashion, she was going to let me know about it. In a rant that was startlingly polite and lasted the entire second half, she let me know that my calls had made her sad.

After the game, she asked me to explain my decision, and I told her what I had seen and that at U15 level a strike to the head was an automatic red card – even if he hadn’t started it. She accepted this calmly and politely, which was a bit odd considering the serve she’d given me.

But Mum was wanting to make sure that I truly understood her son was not the kind who made trouble.

“He is not like that, he is such like a girl, he is gentle.

“I am sorry I get so upset, but my son, he is the girl of the house, I get so worried when I see him hurt.”

Fafa’fine and playing rugby? Good on that kid!

(Reminder, I’m in the last 10 days of my pledgeme drive, and I’m still travelling to Aussie dressed like a normal person)


And rugby was the winner on the day

It’s a cliché that everyone loves to trot out, but my first game on Saturday really was a game of two halves. I trundled down to Otahuhu at a time I would classify as ‘only moderately obnoxiously early for a Saturday’  to referee Otahuhu versus St Kent’s seconds. St Kent’s were warming up as I got there, looking well-drilled and put together. Only a handful of their opposition had showed up, and as it got closer and closer to kickoff I worried there was going to be a default because not enough players were showing up. But they got there, in dribs and drabs, and by kickoff time they had a full squad and were only 2 minutes late onto the field.

(side note: when you have two games kicking off 75 minutes apart, and a game takes 65 minutes minimum, it would be really nice to get everyone on the field early. And as much as I try to make it happen, the players and team coaches know that despite all my posturing, I can’t actually start the game without them.)

As was expected, St Kents were much the better side in the first half, and I spent a lot of time getting Otahuhu to leave the ball alone in the rucks. Scrums were a slight mess to start with, but judicious use of free kicks sorted that out speedily, and the game was well structured and rolling along nicely in St Kent’s favour.

Then came the second half. And for whatever reason St Kent’s fell apart. 

It started with a try which came from a kick-trough with a fortuitous bounce. Having followed play I was not in  the best position, so I saw the Otahuhu player ground the ball with his body, but as I blew the whistle there were howls of a knock on, which I couldn’t see because of the try-scorer’s body position. There was moaning and outrage. The St Kent’s captain came haring over to me, demanding to have the decision changed and I told him to calm down, because  two seconds before the try, one of his players had taken out the leading Otahuhu chaser with a soccer-style slide, sprigs up and all – So I was either awarding this try, or awarding a penalty try and if I awarded the penalty try he was losing a player, so would he like to reconsider his yelling?
He reconsidered very quickly, all things considered.
From there, Otahuhu scored three more tries considerably less controversial, and by full-time had racked up 28 points versus 13. 
The second game was under 14s, and at that level your job is as much to coach as it is to referee. Actual coaches, please can we teach our young players crouching for a scrum involves bending your knees, not just folding over at the waist? Because although seeing one front row slowly tip forward into the mud is highly amusing, I think I strained something trying not to laugh out loud.
It was 17.2 km from home to Otahuhu and 22.8 back, because I got lost and took the wrong motorway.

What do you mean you don’t know what team you are?


It was another Saturday of two games, but bugger me if I knew who the games were actually between. My draw said I had Kings and Mcleans 4B, then Kings and Mcleans 4A. What I eventually worked out had most likely gone down was Kings 4A versus Mcleans 4B, then Kings 4B versus Mcleans 2nd XV. Both games were, as you could probably guess, mostly one way traffic in the direction of the higher graded team. 

The confusion wasn’t helped by one Kings team not having a coach, and the Mcleans seconds coach having a bit of an attitude. (Insisting kickoff was at 10:45, when I had it down for 10:30.)

The first game was the much better one, few penalties, everyone kept their temper, I kept a good eye on everything.

The second game was chaotic, had a couple of obnoxious spectators, and halfway through I had to have a serious “I am getting angry” talk with the Kings captain about how I had about ten million better things I could be doing than listening to a teenager be whiny and sarcastic and so if he didn’t pull his head in I was going to send him off.

I can handle most things but whining makes me want to go postal. No punches were thrown, either by the teams or by me.

By the end of the game I was starting to feel like I had refereed three games in 18 hours and I wasn’t sure my hamstrings would survive. I’m pleased to report they did.

From work, to Kings College, to home was 33 km.




I don’t think I’ve felt as annoyed by the prospect of having a game to do as I felt today. I was tired, I was busy, I did not want to have to get up, get changed, and go yell at 14 year olds. This resentment was further deepened by the fact I never travel at rush hour, so I grossly underestimated the time it would take to get to Liston College, meaning I was really late.

And I have two games tomorrow. I need to think to myself that I don’t have to volunteer for everything… Or that I should wait a little longer before volunteering so that someone else can first.

But anyway. LAST weekend, before we crack on to another one. It was a day of two games – and they were two very different games. First I had a trip down to St Kentigerns to referee their under 15s against Wesley.

I played one advantage for foul play (a try was scored from it) and other than that nothing – it was clean, it was fast, it left me showing I am slow. It was a fabulous game on a fabulous day and I came away from it tired but happy. It was well worth the 45.4 km round trip to get there from my house.

Now I come to a thorny question – do I count kilometers travelled in someone else’s car? I think I do, though I’ll note how many and separate it out. I got a lift with one of the Falcons to their game against Eden – and trust me, it gets awkward when the bloke giving you a lift places is the one you firmly tell to cool his heels on the sideline. But we’re friends again now. I think.

I’m not refereeing them this weekend, and I think it’ll be good for them to have someone else dealing with them for a bit.

That was merely 9.6 km from my house to the ground to Ponsonby rugby club for the aftermatch. Shout-out to B.G. Williams for making us both awed and very welcome.

And then today. Under 14s, Liston v Kelston – neighbouring schools so the boys know each other and they’re ready for a scrap. It was all about control – controlling tempers, controlling the time, controlling the urge to give up and let them duke it out.

I had two yellow cards, one from each team for the same offence – deliberate, aimed no arms tackle. As they both protested I had to give them a warning, I said that was their warning – they got to come back on the field 10 minutes later.

Last year I learned something which I hadn’t needed to know in Wellington – the appropriate amount of respect to give the team’s captain. Even if he’s 14, he’s in a leadership position, which gives him an amount of mana in the game. If I don’t respect that, he and his players will not respect me. Eventually I managed to get buy-in from both captains: Their players were effing and blinding, so I called them over and said  “There are ladies and little children here. They shouldn’t hear f-words and c-words from your players.” That was enough to get them onside with me – a reminder that they were in charge of 14 other boys, and an appeal to the better side of their masculinity.

The captains behaved, the teams behaved better, and the second half saw some great running rugby. Liston came out on top 15-5, and no punches were thrown. I blew the final whistle just before the heavens opened and it poured.

It was a 24.2 km journey, and it was hard work right from beginning to end.

So, if I add in Tuesday’s game, In one week, for four games I travelled 122 kilometers. The orange petrol light continues to mock me.

Tomorrow, two games at Kings College. That’s 6 in 8 days, if you’re keeping track.