For some time now, Rugby — the game we all love and support — has experienced a shortage of accredited referees.  In an effort to avoid the emerging problems outlined below, the assistance of you and your members is required urgently to help reverse this situation.

As some may have noticed, during the 2017 season the referee shortage reached the stage where match officials were regularly asked to handle multiple games on a day, sometimes as back-to-back appointments.  Not surprisingly, this places an unnecessary strain on refereeing resources and contributes to a number of unwanted side effects and concerns.

Firstly, the quality of officiating suffers as the day goes on as a consequence of referees controlling higher level matches although fatigued from games they handled earlier in the day.  Secondly, it results in a growing number of referees retiring or becoming unavailable due to injuries caused by the increased number of games they are now being asked to manage.

The pressure on refereeing resources is at breaking point.  If not quickly addressed the strain will eventually result in accredited referees not being available for appointment to every club match that requires them.  All four Sydney-based referee associations need assistance now to increase the number of accredited referees available for matches — your matches.

One of the flow-on effects of the accredited referee shortage will be a surge in “club to appoint” matches.  In this situation, games may end up being controlled by well-intentioned but untrained “referees” who need hold nothing more than basic Smart Rugby certification.

While the holding of current Smart Rugby certification has proven useful in keeping the game safe for players — and ensures coverage under Rugby Australia’s national insurance scheme — the program provides very little in the way of law and game knowledge or the competency in decision making, communication and people management required of an accredited referee.

In practice, it may well be that in the not too distant future, the opposing team coaches will find themselves more frequently sharing the refereeing workload on game days for the match involving their teams.  Most observers would agree that this potential scenario is far from ideal and should be avoided if at all possible.

There is a solution.  We know from experience that every club has a pool of people — both male and female — they know would make good referees.  Your assistance is sought in identifying and actively encouraging those people to consider becoming accredited referees.

Refereeing appointments can usually be organised around a person’s availability.  If someone is going to be at a ground anyway (perhaps as a coach or team manager or assistant referee or supporter, etc.), then refereeing some other match while there makes a fair bit of sense.  There is a longstanding tradition of referees also being active members of a senior or junior Rugby club.

A click on this link takes you to the Referee Recruitment page of the Sydney West RRA website.  Here you’ll find background to the match official role, an overview of the two types of referees and an explanation of the process for becoming a Rugby referee.

Those interested in gaining full accredited referee status must first attend the Foundation Course.  The recently published 2018 Foundation Course program for NSW can be found by clicking here.  For convenience, a list of Foundation Courses currently scheduled for the Sydney metropolitan area in coming weeks and months is provided below.

Irrespective of where those interested in attending a session live, the first four Foundation Courses in 2018 cover Sydney suburbs to the east, north, west and south respectively.  Obviously, the sooner people are able to attend Foundation and complete the pre-requisites to accreditation, the sooner we can have them trained, kitted out and on the paddock experiencing the considerable pleasures and delights that come with being a Rugby referee.

2018 Referee Level 1 Program – Foundation Course 

2018 Course Date  Course Venue 
Sunday, 21 January The David Phillips Sports Complex (Daceyville)
Saturday, 3 March St Augustine’s College (Brookvale)
Sunday, 4 March The King’s School (North Parramatta)
Sunday, 11 March Endeavour Sports High School (Caringbah)
Sunday, 25 March Shore School (North Sydney)
Sunday, 8 April Trinity Grammar School (Summer Hill)
Saturday, 26 May The David Phillips Sports Complex (Daceyville)
Sunday, 27 May Knox Grammar School (Wahroonga)
Sunday, 24 June Penrith Rugby Club (Penrith)
Sunday, 1 July Eastwood Rugby Club (Marsfield)

It would be appreciated if this note could be circulated quickly and widely throughout your club and in club newsletters.  Any assistance you and your members are able to provide that will assist in increasing accredited referee numbers will be greatly appreciated.

Those interested in becoming an accredited Rugby referee are asked to act quickly.  The game we all love and support needs them now!

Bob Watson
VP Registration & Accreditation
Sydney West Rugby Referees’ Association

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