Rugby Coaching Blog | Professional Rugby Advice & Coaching

Five incidents in sixty minutes by David Clarke
September 22, 2008, 9:01 am
Filed under: Dan Cottrell, Rugby Team Management | Tags: , ,

In one hour I was part of or witness to five incidents which required coaching judgement. None of them were tactical, but you may recognise some of these for yourself.


1. Compromises?

I refereed my first game of the season, an Under 11s game. In the chat before the game with the coaches, the ELVs were a topic of conversation. It being the first game of the season for one team and the second for the other, one team were not using quick throws and others were. What would you allow?


2. Injuries in game time

Before the game I refereed, I told the coaches that if there was an injury, I would play on if the player was not close to the action and I deemed it not immediately serious. The coach should come on and see to the player and ask me to stop the game if necessary. Would you agree to that?


3. A dislocated elbow

Still in the same game, one of the home team player’s fell awkwardly and clutched his arm crying. I stopped the game straightaway and it quickly became clear that the boy had dislocated his elbow. If your player got injured in this way, what would have been your first three courses of action?


4. Aggressive opposing parents

In a different game, on another pitch, one coach was walking up the sideline. He passed a mother and son from the other team discussing the game. The boy was complaining about how he was being unfairly treated by the opponents. His mother told him to go and punch one of the opposing players. He went back on and within a minute had punched his opposite number. At what stage, if any, would you have intervened?


5. Aggressive own parents

At the end of the same game, one of the home parents stormed off. He said some unfortunate things to the coach’s wife. It transpired that he had volunteered to run touch and then was asked by the coach who was also refereeing to buck his ideas up when he fell behind the play. That he was rolling up a cigarette at the time didn’t help his cause. How would you have dealt with him?


7 Comments so far
Leave a comment

1. If a team had not practiced quick throws, I would ask that coach what he wanted
2. Yep, head injury accepted
3. Get the arm supported, call an ambulance and keep him warm
4. I would have immediately spoken to both of them, warning its a sending off offence and telling the player to use his anger in a legal way
5. I would have told him not to smoke on the pitchside and if he made comments to anyone else ask him to come to me if he had any gripes

Comment by Peter Taylor

1. Difficult, I would have ruled if no compromise could be reache dno quick through ins, that way neither side gained an advantage.

2. Play on until the next breakdown/stoppage in play. Coach can come on a assess, remove from pitch if necessary.

3. Assess injury and comfort player, apply a cold compress and support injured limb, seek medical attention.

4. If I had heard it I would intervene immediately. I would not take any action on hearsay, the player would have the error of his ways pointed out, he then told me about his parent I would speak to the parent.

5. I would have spoken to him after the game in private, thanked him for his contribution and offered feedback about his performance. I certainly would not have berated him in public.



Comment by Paul

On issue 1 if the team taking the quick throw ins was gaining too great an advantage then i would tell both teams to wait until the line was formed and i blew the whistle.

On issue 2 i would agree to keep the game flowing.

On issue 3 first i would stop the game get . Then get medical help and finally restart the game if both coaches agreed.

On issue 4 i wolud have told the player not to take matters into his own hands and speak to the coach asking him if he had a substitute if he did’t then i would warn both coaches to speak to to there teams that i would be watching very closely and any unacceptable behaviour and i will send people off or abandon the game.

On issue 5 i would have told the touch judge to either get some one else to run touch if he was finding it hard to keep up with play or get someone to rool his cigerette for him or to cover the line whilst he did it.


Very Interesting.
In our local junior comp before our last game (U/16) all players from all four teams were addressed by a member of our judiciary pannel and informed that in the first 4 weeks they had dealt with 9 referals. It was explained to the kids that they opperate under IRB guidelines and what the minimum penalties for striking and abuse of match officials were, and that obviously the minimums were not acting as a deterant. They also got a strong warning NOT to be the tenth referal.

With this in mind in regard to your point 4. “Aggressive opposing parents”. I think I would have quietly spoken to the mother and let her know that what she had told her son was inappropriate and that if he did subsequently strike a player I would be making sure the resulting suspension would not be a “Minimum”.



Comment by Steve

I coach rugby league and each year there are new rules to interpret and teach to players. With Junior sport of any type, allowances have to be made initially BUT each coach has to take responsibility for his team’s knowledge of the rules and the conditions under which they play. Communicating to each coach before the game regarding the ELVs and what you will allow and what you won’t will go a long way to making an even playing field – as far as the rules are concerned.

I take it that you are not medically qualified and as such you should always err on the side of caution. When a player is down needing assistance then stop the game and clock so he can be assessed. Injuries that are not serious can be treated by the team’s or ground’s first aid people (hopefully Union has them at EVERY ground?) More serious injuries should be treated the same way, STOP THE GAME, if there is ANY doubt that a player should be moved DON’T TRY TO. Qualified people arec only a phone call away – the player will thank you and so will his parents
As for the difficult parents – at every game there should be a ground official to whom you can make a complaint, if not stop the game bring both teams’ officials together and warn that if there is another outburst of “sports rage” then the game will be abandoned. A referee, 11 yo players, and decent people should not be exposed to loutish and threatening behaviour. Have the strength of your convictions that if things don’t improve you do abandon the game and make a full report to your association and the junior league concerned.
Be consistent in all your actions penalise foul play and treat parents and spectators who ruin the game in the same manner – abandon a game and award the result to the non offending side and you will win respect of every one – the message will soon get through. Stand-in officials can be a problem and each team has a responsibility to ensure their volunteers have the capacity to do the job, smoking on the side line is not a great lesson for 11 year olds and adults calling each other names is just as bad. It seems to me that these teams have some issues at grass roots level that need to be identified and dealt with by the association. A Code of conduct for players, officials and spectators would be a good start. As a referee you are doing a job that not enough people have the spine to do – Well Done BUT be aware that there is “nothing as queer as folk” – you have the power onfield and can be a catalyst of what happens off it. Be consistent, fair and unafraid to make a big call if the situation warrants it. It is better to be known for your firm stance on bad behaviour rather than known as someone that is soft and inconsistent and someone that can be influenced.

Comment by Bob Jones

I thought quick throw in’s at U11 were not allowed for U11’s – see below; copied directly from the 2008 /09 continuum for U11 /12’s

9. Line-Outs
(a) If the ball or player carrying the ball goes out of play, a contested line-out at the point at which the ball or player crossed the touchline will take place. If a lineout is awarded within 5 metres of the goal line, the line out is to be taken at a mark 5 metres out from the goal line. The opponents of the team who carried or last touched the ball before it went into touch throw the ball in. A quick throw in is not permitted.

Comment by Steve B.

Hi Steve

Different rules different countries! Wales lineouts more advanced in law terms at younger age groups, but less advanced in scrum terms.


Comment by admin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: