Through the eyes of a referee

Why did you decide to become a ref rather then a player ?

I'm always up for a challenge and I thought I would try my hand at being a match official – something different I went along to do the initial training and passed, and it basically went from there.

What are the best things about being a referee?

The best things about refereeing is that you meet new people all the time and get to travel about. Also, your point about the forward pass, yes the ball may travel forward when passed due to what people call momentum. As referees, we look at the hands, if the ball is passed and the hands face forwards then the pass is more likely to be forward; but if the hands face side wards or backward then the pass would probably not be deemed forward.

When the players are angry with a decision and start to lose the plot, what do you think the best way to calm them down/ control them is?

One of the key things needed to be a good referee is good communication. If a player is 'starting to loose the plot' the best thing is to talk to them and explain to them the decision without getting into a confrontation. Then during the rest of the game, it is best to continue to work with the player and praise them when they do something good like a tackle. Working with the irate players cools them off and regains the mutual respect. A bit of banter always helps.

If you could change one rule in the game, which would it be?

I think that I would change the rule that says the defending player can stand on the defensive line with only one foot and stride forward. I would say that the defensive player has not retired 10 metres only his back foot has. Different referees have different opinions.

Does crowd abuse influence 50/50 calls?

Simply no. What people don't realise is that when we are in the middle we cannot hear what the crowd is saying, we just hear a roar or noise.

Why are so many young referees becoming whistle happy these days?

I think that when some of the new young referees, who are refereeing their first games, tend not to use their whistles enough! As a referee the use of the whistle is a last resort or for when there are knock-ons, penalties, etc. A good referee uses his voice.

The RFL have supposedly made a proposal for a new points system which gives 2 points for the winner of each half and 2 points for the winner of the game, i've watched many games where i've seen Whitehaven batter teams to death and run in 30 points in the first 20 minutes and the referees all of a sudden stop penalising the opposition and try to make a game of it (probably happens at a lot of grounds), if this system was to come in do you feel there would be more pressure on referees to be fair 100% of the time rather than lean towards teams who are getting thrashed?

Firstly, I can't really comment on the supposed new scoring system, but I think that referees are fair all the time. If a team is loosing people think that referees will give them a couple of penalties to help them out, but this is not the case it just feels that way because more attention is focused on it.

Fancy yourself as a know it all when it comes to the rules? If yes, then take the rules quiz to see how well you know the rules, it would be nice to see what scores people get (follow: http://www.arlra.org.au/quiz/quiz-1.html)

If you come out shining and you think you could take up the whistle follow this link http://www.therfl.co.uk/ABOUT/match.php On the other hand, if you didn't do very well you can view the rule book by following http://www.therfl.co.uk/ABOUT/images/rugby_laws_book_2004_.pdf

Got a question for James? E-mail them to referee@lasttackle.co.uk. Some, if not all, questions will be answered in James' next article.

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