chickenfeet: (referee)
 Bottom line, New Zealand have redefined rugby union and everybody else is playing catch up again.  The three defining moments for me were all from the All Blacks.  Two involved forwards coming into the three quarter line and displaying levels of skill that few backs would have shown even just a few years ago.  The third involved a very large centre, of the kind who is used on most teams as a battering ram, spotting a micro gao and going through it to score untouched from the half way line.  It was like watching 110kg of Jeremy Guscott.

I think the lesson here for the other countries, especially the Northern Hemisphere ones, is that we are now in an era of extreme total rugby.  Exceptional handling skills are required from 1 to 15 and picking players based mainly on size, speed and power is not going to cut it.  There will be big, fast, powerful players; likely bigger, faster and more powerful than ever, but they will all be able to float a double skip pass or off load out of the back of the hand.  Second thing I saw (and Australia and Wales showed this too) is that a team needs at least one, preferably at least two, players who are brilliant at the breakdown; real jackals.  These two things have real selection implications.  France and England in particular will need to rethink their tendency to pick big men who just aren't very good footballers.  Bastereau and England's endless supply of large but mediocre Fijians come to mind.  The implications for back row selection are huge.  Every team will need to be thinking about picking two specialist 7s (playing one at 6 or 8) and again, there just will not be room for big but one dimensional 8 men.  It's going to be interesting to see whether (or how quickly) this gets reflected in the Six Nations.

The other thing I thought the RWC showed was that the driving maul has become a bit of a joke.  It's the way the refs have been told to call it which gives all the advantages to the attack.  Basically, attacking players are being allowed to join ahead of the ball carrier and wedges of players with the ball at the back are being allowed to split off from the maul but are still given the same protection from the defence as if a maul was still in being.  Both of these things are blatantly illegal and make defence all but impossible.  I guess  the PtB think it's "exciting" but it's terrible rugby.  What next?  Legalize the "flying wedge" and the "cavalry charge" from a tapped penalty?  Both these tactics seem to be allowed now in open play so why not?
chickenfeet: (referee)
What an amazing game of rugby. The skill levels were exceptional and both sides played with ambition but what took my breath away was the physicality. The first half was especially bruising.  Big men were hitting the line at pace and being driven back in the tackle.  Hardly a tackle was missed by either side in that first half and the contest at the breakdown was brutal but utterly disciplined.   'm in awe.

I was fortunate to get a recording from one of the New Zealand TV channels.  They really do better coverage than anyone else.  The commentators know the game and are familiar with the Laws, even the arcane bits and they are utterly fair.  I'm not sure who the play by play guy was but Justin Marshall was doing the colour commentary and it was really accurate and insightful.  Yje only Northern Hemisphere pundit who comes close is Jonathan Davies and don't get me going about the Australians.
chickenfeet: (referee)
So yesterday I was at Fletcher's to ref the TRU Women's B division final (Nomads vs Barrie). I was supposed to have ARs, radios the works. That didn't work out and I did the game with unqualified TJs. It was also the first of the two TV games of the day and I was mike up and videoed as part of my annual assessment. Any way, it was a good game; at least so said the TV commentator and pretty much everyone else I spoke to. The feedback on my performance was positive too which is nice. For those with interest and access the game is on Rogers TV in York Region at 1300 EDT today and in Toronto (Channel 10) it's showing next Sunday at 1330 EDT.

I also AR'd the men's B final yesterday so I'm feeling a bit dried ut and a bit sluggish this morning. I'm going to take it easy befor the opera tonight.
chickenfeet: (referee)
Yesterday I was in Lindsay to referee the second team game between the Nomads and Lindsay.  It was a peculiar day on a number of levels.  For starters it was the first time in weeks that I've done a game in less than tropical weather. Yesterday was cool and windy with intermittent light rain.  It felt good.  On the not so good side one of Lindsay's first team players had been killed in a cliff diving accident earlier in the week so things were pretty sombre with a couple of little commemoration ceremonies and a lot more people there than usual for a second team game.  It was also odd to be reffing a Nomads team that contained both people I played with and people I coached at U16 level.  For the record, the game was actually pretty good with no more nonsense than one would expect at that level.
chickenfeet: (referee)
So after a pleasant three years in which the Laws of Rugby Union remained unchanged I've just received an email from the IRB containing twelve new variations to be trialled. Confusion will begin at various times around the world as they are not be implemented until the start of net season so likely May 2013 for us though it wouldn't surprise me if we got them for the 2012 college/university campaign.
chickenfeet: (referee)
Last night I was at a presentation and "chance to meet" session with international referees Marius Jonker of South Africa and Dave Pearson of England.  It was fascinating.  Their world is so different from that of someone refereeing amateur rugby.

Key differences I noted:
  • They can assume that pretty much anything a player or a team does is deliberate.  They can also assume that coaches have studied things like IRB directives and clarifications as intently as they have.  For us there's always a question of intent versus lack of skill or knowledge.
  • They are under constant scrutiny but they know what the IRB or their board expects them to do and can focus on that.  We are formally evaluated far less often and rumour plays more of a role.
  • They have access to as much video on teams and individual players as they care to watch.  Teams are usually an unknown quantity to us.
  • Conversely coaches can watch video of their games and plan how to "game" the referee.
  • We don't have to worry about the media!
  • They always have a team of three elite officials plus a TMO.  We have to try to manage everything almost all the time.
  • Conversely, their decisions can be analyzed over and over in slo-mo.  We don't have that to worry about.
Things we could easily agree on:
  • Props are sneaky, underhand so and sos.
  • Australian commentators are the most ignorant, loud mouthed and one sided in the world.
It was interesting and fun.
chickenfeet: (referee)
I survived the opening weekend of the club season despite getting rather badly lost trying to find North Halton's ground.

It was a pretty good game. The Buccaneers edged North Halton 17-14. Physically I was fine though, once again, the increase in physicality from high school to even a 'B' division game like this one was striking. I think I did OK. I am finding it harder each year to be exactly where I want to be as quickly as i want to be there but I coped. I'm also getting increasingly irritated with the amount of talking in adult games. Some people just don't shut up. That said, there were players on both sides doing stuff to make my job easier which I do appreciate.

Next weekend is a holiday with no fixtures so it's back to high school games for a couple of weeks.
chickenfeet: (referee)
I did a double header yesterday; Oakwood CI vs. Humberside CI - seniors and juniors. It was pretty tiring. The senior game was very good. Humberside edged it 17-15 and there was a lot of good rugby. The junior game was a blow out; 73-0 to Oakwood. One aspect of reffing high school vs. club that really struck me yesterday was the attitude of the coaches. In a club game when you penalise a side; especially if it's for something like dissent, you tend to get abuse from the sidelines. In a high school game the coach is quite likely to substitute the player for giving away stupid penalties. I rather like that.

Anyway, reality starts again on Saturday when the club season opens. I'm reffing Buccaneers vs. North Halton; a Toronto 'B' division first team game.
chickenfeet: (referee)
The last two days I have been refereeing in Whitby, about 50 minutes by train east of here. This means being out just before 0700 to catch the 0728 to Whitby and be at the school ready for 0900 kick offs.

Yesterday, which was cool and wet, we had three refs for 29 20 minute tournament games (Grade 9 and 10 boys) played on two fields with the first games going at 0900 and the last KO at 1600. I did 9 games and finally got home around 1830 very tired indeed.

Today wasn't quite so intense we had four refs for 16 games though this time it was senior boys so more physically challenging. I did my four games (two sets of two) and was home by 1530. It was even colder today but at least it was dry and the sun put in an occasional appearance.

I enjoyed myself, I made some useful cash but I'm really tired!
chickenfeet: (referee)
...when you spend more time in rugby kit than street clothes. Reffing senior boys Don Mills at Mackenzie this afternoon, junior/bantam boys tournament all day tomorrow in Whitby and then back to Whitby Friday for a senior boys tournament. Ibuprofen is my friend.
chickenfeet: (referee)
Yesterday was truly a day of contrasts. Early in the day I was kindly offered tickets for the dress rehearsal of the COC's upcoming show. I figured I had time to get through my afternoon refereeing gig, get home, get cleaned up and fed and out for a show at 7.30. It turned out to be a close run thing.

I was scheduled to referee a junior boys game at 2pm and and a girls game at 3.10 pm. The weather was foul; cold, wet and windy with a touch of snow. The first delay was related to the pitch. It was only marked for soccer and one sideline was hard up against an asphalt running track. There were also metal sprinkler heads in the playing area. We decided to mark off a line 5m in with cones but that took a little bit of time. I got through the boys game OK to find that both girls teams had essentially identical kit. This resulted in another thirty minute delay while someone found T shirts for one team to put on over their jerseys. Both teams were very inexperienced and conditions were bad. The rugby, if such it could be called, was appalling. Still, I did my best to help them get a game out of it and the coaches were appreciative of my efforts. By the time we were done it was pushing five o'clock and I had the best part of an hour TTC journey to get home. I was cold and wet. Fortunately the TTC co-operated and I managed to avoid hypothermia.

I got in to find there was a problem with my tickets but my kind friend was trying to arrange replacements. By 6.45 I was clean, fed (sort of) and looking respectable enough but there was still no confirmation on the tickets. I headed out anyway trusting to luck. The story continues...


Apr. 17th, 2012 04:48 pm
chickenfeet: (referee)
My senior game this afternoon went quite well. Unfortunately 20 minutes into my junior game something popped in my right calf. I've got ice on it for the second time at the moment and I guess I'll see how it feels tomorrow before making a decision about my Thursday game.

Under way

Apr. 17th, 2012 09:46 am
chickenfeet: (referee)
The rugby season is well started. Last week I refereed two pre-season high school tournament; one at St. Mike's and one at Weston CI. Quite a contrast; fee paying Catholic school with immaculate artificial turf field vs. public high school in relatively low income neighbourhood with dusty unmarked field. It all went quite well considering.

This week marks the start of the season proper. Today I've got two early afternoon games on the artificial pitch at Birchmount stadium. City champions Northern SS vs. Humberside CI; seniors followed by juniors. Thursday I'm back at Birchmount for a senior game; city runners up Malvern CI again vs. Humberside CI. Then I close my week out at Don Mills CI for senior and junior games against Weston CI.

In between I get to fit Tales of Hoffman at the COC on Wednesday night.

I survived

Apr. 10th, 2012 03:49 pm
chickenfeet: (referee)
First reffing gig of the season; two 30 minute games and a 40 minute game. I'm tired but don't seem to have injured anything. The first few minutes were tough but I adjusted quite quickly. I am able to confirm that I am still not as fast as the average 17 year old wing threequarter.
chickenfeet: (referee)
I fetched my refereeing gear up from the storage unit today. I have a gig at St. Mike's on Tuesday; 2x30 minute games and a 40 minute game spread between 0900 and 1400. I have some fitness concerns as I have been struggling a bit with a respiratory virus for about a month which has definitely impacted my run up to the season plans and, yeah well, I'm a year older than last season too. Still I have been running and my biking times don't look too stupid so I'll cope.
chickenfeet: (srscat)
Today's Globe and Mail carries a report on Rugby Canada's new home in BC. One of my kids from my coaching days is quoted.

Lucas Hammond, 18, is already a rugby player and is among the first to benefit from a central home for the sport. He moved to Langford two months ago from Toronto.

On a quick morning break, sitting near the weight room, the product of Toronto Nomads RFC spoke about the future of rugby in Canada, but could also have been thinking about his new home.

“It’s only going to get bigger.”

Very odd

Nov. 5th, 2011 10:43 am
chickenfeet: (referee)
This may be the most unusual try I have ever seen on a rugby field.
chickenfeet: (referee)
The rugby season in Ontario is all but over with the finals of various cup competitions on Saturday and university and college playoffs over the next few weeks. Thus, last night we had the TDRRS season wrap up meeting in Markham. I had figured out how to get there by public transit but found myself marooned at Unionville GO station by a York Region transit strike. It was a $20 cab ride to my destination rather than the 50c the bus would have cost! Fortunately I got a lift home.

Apart from the usual stuff we watched some World Cup highlights from a refereeing point of view. For those who care about such things there was unanimity that Alain Rolland got the Warburton red card right and that Craig Joubert had a shocker in the final.

I also discovered that apparently CBC got conned into a live national broadcast of the recent Canada vs USA Rugby League match. League is played by a handful of people in Canada (I might have met one once) while Union is played by tens of thousands. CBC apparently thought they were showing Union despite the fact that the Canadian team was on the other side of the world competing in the World Cup. If there is intelligent life at CBC television it hides itself remarkably well.
chickenfeet: (referee)
Rather unexpectedly I got a call last night to ref a couple of UoT intramural games today. First up was St. Michael's vs. Trinity. It was a decent game despite being played on the mudflat that is the Back Campus. I think I had a good game. It was a fair result, nobody was complaining and I think my positioning was better than it often is. It was cold and windy though.

I was also supposed to ref Victoria vs Skule 'B' (engineers, what can I say!) but Vic didn't show so I got home an hour earlier than expected.

In other refereeing news, congratulations to Alain Rolland for getting the Warburton call exactly right. The critics clearly haven't read the IRB directives on sanctioning dangerous tackles.
chickenfeet: (referee)
Yesterday I was out in Whitby to referee some high school sevens. It was a tournament for Grade 9 and 10s so mostly very inexperienced. It really was like herding cats rather than refereeing a lot of the time. It was also a really long day. Whitby is about an hour by train. I left just after 6am and got back sometime after 5pm having reffed seven games of two seven minute halves. Still, really quite enjoyable.

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