Blow the Whistle

Thanks for your questions; I have tried to answer them as best as I can.  If you have any other questions just email them to james.cross@lasttackle.co.uk and I will answer them for you.

This might not be a question for you if you have never worked with kids, but I would like to ask you a question about refereeing kids. When refereeing kids, kids are bound to be upset with your decisions. Some kids go as far as abuse your decisions? Question: What is the best way to stop them from abusing your decisions? Sometimes I get so frustrated, so I would like to say something along the lines of "Well, do you think you can do any better" or, "At least I am refereeing better than you play". I would never say anything like this, but has crossed my mind before. What do you think?

It is best not to say anything back to them as this just fuels the situation and you open yourself up to confrontation.  Some players get frustrated because they don’t understand the decision, when refereeing young players sometimes you have to ‘coach’ to them the rules of the game.  So try explaining the situation/decision and try to get a bit of banter with the players, it always gets respect from them, but don’t forget respect them.
 
Is it hard to break through the refereeing ranks in the UK? Are there many referees who fight to get a job as a referee in the SL?

In the UK people try to make it not just as referees but as touch judges and other officials.  Of course it is hard, there are only a few games a weekend at Super League and so not a lot of officials are needed.  But it is like everything else in life, if you are good at what you do and you have the ambition to succeed then you should have a chance of getting there.  The majority of the officials I know want to get to the top, but some are happy just refereeing Sunday morning junior games and some are happy just doing touch judging at academy level; its personal preference.
 
Do you think that anyone believes making refs full-time will actually improve performances, or is it just to encourage more people to take up the whistle?

I think that the introduction of full-time officials has had a good impact on Super League.  As the referees are full-time they are all ‘singing off the same hymn sheet’; in other words they are all focusing on the same things in games and so the decisions they all make are consistent.  Also, it has the potential to attract new officials into the game as it makes people think they can make a career out of it if they have the ability and ambition.
 
What kind of physical tests do you have to undertake and pass in order to become a referee at NL level? How about SL level?

All officials that officiate at games from academy through to super league have to pass a fitness test.  The tests are taken every year; the test is split up into different parts.  A 12 minute run around a 400m running track, different distances for different levels (e.g. academy touch judge is 2400m), an agility test that is basically like an obstacle course around cones which tests your agility and varying sprint tests with different distances for different levels.  As well as the fitness test you have to pass written exams to test your knowledge of the rules.  If you pass you are brought into the game at lower levels then brought up through the ranks.   

Which current rules do you feel could be improved, and which do you think should be scrapped? Are there any rules you'd like to introduce?

At the minute the rule that I think should be changed would be the 10m rule.  At the moment, a player only has to have their back foot on the defensive 10m line.  I believe that the players should have both feet on or behind the line.  This would end the disadvantage to several small players who cannot stride far forward like some tall players.  If I had my way I would introduce a ‘penalty shoot out’ in games that have to be won (i.e. finals) if the game is draw after extra time.  I would have each team nominate a kicker the two kickers from each team would then kick conversions from different areas of the pitch, the kicker with the most successful conversions would win, I think it is better than having to have a replay.   

If you had the opportunity, would you want to become a full time referee in Super League?

At the moment I have a career choice planned out.  However, if I was not successful in that, I would like to be a full time official in the sport because I think it would be a good challenge and it would be the highest I could get in terms of officiating.

Here is a point of play for you can you get it correct?

The red team score a try, do they have to take a kick at goal or can they opt out and continue with the kick off?

Think you know all there is when it comes to the rules of the game?  Try this test to find out how you do http://www.arlra.org.au/quiz/quiz-1.html .  It should be interesting to hear what people get on this.

If you did well, why not take up the challenge and take up the whistle? For more information visit http://www.therfl.co.uk/ABOUT/mocourses.php for more information.

Have you ever watched a game of rugby league and wondered a decision made by the officials?  The Rugby League Laws of the Game is available in PDF format from the following link http://www.therfl.co.uk/ABOUT/laws.php 

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