Having only just started refereeing this past season, I’ve already run the line for a couple of cup finals, and today I finished my season refereeing an international game! Ok, that’s a little bit of an exaggeration. This time of year sees clubs heading off on tour having finished their league matches, and that includes teams from overseas heading here. So it was that I ended up refereeing a game between a local side and a side that had come over from France.
It was, in many ways, an enjoyable game:
despite a wet start to the day the sun came out in time for the match (actually, I should say matches, since the club were running a tournament involving themselves, the French side, a Welsh touring side, and a side made up of members of the local Fijian community, a number of whom play for the club); the sides playing one another were good, meaning that generally they were good at the break-down, meaning I could keep a better eye on other areas of play (yes, refs need to watch all over, but I’m new, and I do have a tendency to get drawn into concentrating too much on the mess that is the tackle area in lower level matches, which wasn’t a problem today); the weather meant it was a flowing game, tough for me to keep up with at times (my fitness is clearly still in need of improvement!) but good to be part of; it included the strangest try I think I will likely ever see in my life (it’s one for sharing over a pint on the bar, not here on the blog).
Despite the enjoyable nature it also presented some tricky challenges, not least of which was the language barrier. I took French GCSE, and passed it with an A, but haven’t used the language since, and have certainly never used it in the context of a rugby match! Thankfully a couple of the players spoke pretty good English. Even still, it felt odd being in charge of a game where I was not always certain every player understood what I was saying. It was made even trickier when, as I was giving my team briefing to the French before the match, that the league they currently play currently use a couple of variations to the Laws that we don’t use here – so a different language and a slightly different set of rules. In the end, though, there was no need to panic, and we all enjoyed a good game of rugby, which felt to me far more evenly matched than the final scoreline suggested (a 20 point victory to the English).
Over-all, though, a great way to end the season. It’s been great relearning rugby from a different point of view, getting to know folk both in the Referees Society and the local clubs, and having the opportunity to be out in the community doing something where my “job” is (often) known but is not a part of what I’m doing there. I’m looking forward to next season already, although hopefully I won’t need to be attempting translation on the fly again anytime soon!
Whether your seasons coming to an end, or just starting, travel well.