Longford RFC has a lengthy and strong history of providing rugby referees in Leinster. Going back to the 1970’s/80’s Sean Hanahoe, Roger McCorley and the late David Pearse were stalwarts of the ARLB (Association of Referees Leinster Branch) as were John Quinn, Denis Madigan, Finbar Murphy and Peter Neary in the 80’s/90’s. Since then Brendan Considine and Michael ‘Ozzie’ Hackett have all refereed at Leinster level. Warren Turner is the most recent recruit passing his trial match last year.
My own interest in refereeing came 4 years ago. Having played for over 20 years, I was involved in mini and youth coaching and regularly found myself having to fill in to referee youth fixtures in the club. After a few “gentle” hints from Derick Turner I attended a referees course, refereed some youth games outside the club and had a trial game in Tullamore to assess my ability to progress. After a positive assessment I became a full member of the ARLB and have been refereeing competitive Leinster League fixtures at J1 & J2 levels since. I also get touch judge appointments at All-Ireland League games.
Refereeing, for me, is the closest experience to playing the game without actually playing. The same adrenaline rush and feelings are there before a big game and a real appreciation can be felt afterwards if you have had a good game. The reputation of respect for rugby referees is real and genuine welcome is received in all clubs, before and after the game! Getting fit and keeping fit are significant benefits that come with the job.
I receive an assessment 2 to 3 times a year where an assessor, generally a retired referee, watches my game. He provides statistics on penalty count, advantage played etc and writes a 2 page report as well as scoring my performance. I can have as many or as few games as I want – generally youth fixtures on Saturday and Leinster League on Sundays and appointments are made via a dedicated website www.arlb.ie
I would wholeheartedly recommend anybody with an interest in rugby – not necessarily a retired player – to trying out refereeing. For anybody in their 20’s or early 30’s there are programmes to “Fast-track” those with potential to make it to All-Ireland develop quickly and will be assessed on a regular basis. There are programmes available for all levels of referees – in my case there are monthly meetings in the Midland Region which can range from on the pitch League Level and beyond. These referees have specialist coaches at many games to help them training courses to presentations on specific areas such as “the tackle”, “positioning”, “set pieces” etc. Discussions are varied and tend to focus on recent games and law interpretation. There are also courses to be completed in Dublin as you move to the next competitive level.
For those who want to “dip their toe” an associate referee course allows you to referee a youth game within your club. The referees website has information regarding laws, how to start refereeing, appointments and many other useful resources (www.arlb.ie) or contact me at Longford Rugby Club if you would like to get involved at any level of refereeing.