|What to expect when refereeing your first games||Article added on 02/07/2011|
|You have either completed your ELRA 3 and have been accepted into the society or are well on the way to getting there, and as a result have an appointment (thatís what we referees call matches referees are assigned to officiate over). What can you expect and how are you expected to behave?|
As a referee you are expected to turn up at your appointment in good time, at least 1 hour in advance, even if both teams may not yet be in full attendance. You are expected to be smartly dressed in a shirt and tie (a society tie ideally). At the beginning of the season when itís a bit warmer some referees can be seen wearing society polo shirts to appointments and later in the season some wear a society jumper over a shirt and tie.
Before the fixture the referee liaison person at the home club or somebody else from the club should call you to confirm the fixture is on. If you have heard nothing from the home side by Thursday night call the contact at that club on your appointment sheet (or e-mail), in the refereeís handbook or from the society web site (currently under the clubs section). These contact names can be out of date, but they usually can put you in touch with those that have replaced them in the role. If that fails contact the appointments officer who will have the latest contact details. If you have heard nothing by Friday morning, earlier if you have been told your game is cancelled, call the reappointments officer to arrange another appointment. It is rare that all requested games are appointed during the season and it is most likely that you will get appointed to another game.
Arriving at your appointment what kind of reception might you expect?
Well that very much depends on where you are going.
First off introduce yourself to someone from the home side, if the bar is open speaking to someone behind the bar works well as you can be sure they are from the home side. Tell them you are their referee and which sides you are expecting to referee as you may be one of several referees expected that day. They will either tell you who you need to be talking to or direct you to the referee changing area.
If you are lucky enough to be going to a particular club in East Kent you might get changed in a separate changing room with tea making facilities and a fridge filled with iso-tonic drinks, milk and water. You will also have your own private shower (or at least share it with the other referees). You will be offered a free drink at the bar after the game no matter how the game has gone
On the other hand you might find yourself changing with the home team showering with the players (unless itís a ladies team) and buying your own drinks, and perhaps not being made to feel awfully comfortable if the home team lost.
Before changing find the captain of the home team, introduce yourself. You need to know if the fixture is still on? Is the opposition still the same as originally advised? Is the kick off time what you have on your appointment sheet / e-mail or as confirmed by the referee contact at the home club when he called you earlier in the week? Have the opposition arrived or are they on their way and do they have fifteen players? Verify that he has 15 players, does he have substitutes and if so how many and how many are front row qualified. If you are satisfied with all these answers itís probably time to get changed. If not you need to satisfy yourself that the game can go ahead.
Itís around this point that you might be asked to referee a different game to the one you were appointed too. If itís at a lower grade game that is fine, but if it is at a higher grade game the society will not sanction you refereeing a game more than two levels above your grade and if this is the case you should refuse. This can occur when a referee has been re-appointed to a higher level game at the last moment or has had to pull out due to injury or illness, or the club made a mistake in the appointments process.
Once the opposition captain arrives introduce yourself and verify that he has 15 players, has he substitutes and if so how many and how many are front row qualified? Tell him when kick off time is and inform him when you expect his team on the field for the stud check etc. If the opposition are late they will try to move the kick off time. Try to get the two captains to agree as it is their fixture, not yours, but if the onus falls on you to mediate remember that you do not need to play 40 minutes in each half and the team that is late does need some time to warm-up. Once a time is set make sure both sides stick to it. All of this is down to your management skills.
Now is a good time to prepare your score sheet and fill out your cards, leaving you to fill in the score after the game.
Ask the home team skipper where the pitch is that you are playing on, you need to inspect it. It might surprise you, but often they do not know or get it wrong (as a result you might have to check two pitches). When you have found the pitch check the posts are secure (you might have to wait for the pads to arrive but you can check that the posts will stay up for the game). Check for debris such as glass, cans, bottles dog excrement etc. Holes in the pitch, dangerous marker posts (short for example). Check that the pitch markings are clear and correct. If you are not satisfied inform the home captain that kick off will not go ahead until you are satisfied. Check that you know how deep each in-goal is and whether there are overhanging trees. What will you do if the ball is kicked and strikes a branch over-hanging the pitch but doesnít cross the touchline?
Then itís either back to the changing room, or start your warm up depending on the time left to K.O.
At 15 minutes before the kick off (or earlier with the agreement of the captains) start the stud checking process, tell the captains (one at a time) to line their team up on one of the lines for the stud check, while doing so walk around the front of the line looking for jewellery and suspect padding. Inform the captains when the briefing and coin toss will take place.
Remember to make sure you have a suitable ball to play with and start your watch at kick off.
At half time collect the ball, stop your watch reset it and start it to measure the half time period. Add up your score card from the first half, check who has kick off in the second half. Get yourself a drink. Blow for the second half when you see heads starting to look round on both sides, and when you decide they have had enough time, certainly no more than 10 minutes.
At the end of the game, retrieve the ball (giving it to the home team captain) add up the score card, shake hands, and join the tunnel to clap both sides off the field.
In the changing room put the score on your feedback cards. If you have not got any cards e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org asking for some in advance of your game, they are usually available at the annual conference or monthly meetings.
Itís important that you get your feedback cards completed by the captains of the two sides you refereed and sent off to the society. Blank cards are supplied by the society, on one side they have the address of the society and a second class pre-payment on the other side they have space for you to write down your name and the name of the two teams and the score for each side.
Below that there are a series of boxes for the respective captains to score your performance in four critical areas of the game, fitness and positioning, consistency and control, contribution to the playersí enjoyment and overall assessment. Beside these headings the captains can grade you Excellent, Good, Satisfactory, Poor or very poor. They can also add comments. They should also sign the card.
Do not give the cards to the captains on the assumption that they will fill them in and send them off for you, most of the time despite best intentions they forget to send them in or simply cannot be bothered. I recently found some in my office from my days as a team captain and I retired three years ago! You need to hand out the card partially completed to the captain and to ask them to give them back to you before you leave. In that way you can also ask for specific feedback if you receive a poor rating in any area. These cards together with assessments are used in grading committees to decide what grade you should be at, itís more difficult to progress if you do not get the cards sent in. I go so far as to give the captains a biro each as well as the card and collect both items back from them before leaving.
If the atmosphere is good itís a good idea to have a chat with the team captains separately, you may be seeing a lot of them during the season and you want to re-humanise yourself. Itís also worth asking a particular player what was going on (and his counterpart if you can) in areaís which did not work out as they should have on the field. Amazingly sometimes they will tell you what there were up to, and they will always tell you what their opposite number was up to. Donít stay too long, they probably want to moan about some of your decisions and wonít want you around for too long.