Blog post just for theRUGBYREF.com by our friend Dale Hall Dale is a Ontario based referee.
I first picked up the whistle when I was 19 years old. I was coming off my first season of senior men’s rugby, which left me with two decent injuries on my left leg, and I really wasn’t sure what was next for me. I was hesitant at first, the other people that took the course with me were lightyears ahead of me in terms of “Rugby IQ.” I left the course, even more confused than I was prior to the course, and with my first appointment as a referee to follow in a couple days – talk about nerve wracking! I just hoped for the best, and prepared the best I could for my first match.
I’ll never forget my first match, it was the first game of a high school girls’ tournament and it was raining sideways. At the time, refereeing that game was one of the hardest mental challenges I’ve ever had, and from that day; I was hooked. I went on to play and referee local club matches the rest of that year.
Going into my second year I applied to be a part of the Rugby Ontario Focus Group, and I was accepted. This was my first opportunity to experience the true referee environment. Prior to the Focus Group, I would travel to games alone, but with the focus group we were in a group setting and it was a very positive learning environment. I would say the Focus Group was a major flash point in my time as a referee. The Focus Group opened my eyes to the skills and traits needed to be a higher-level referee, and I knew that I wanted to be able to perform in those higher-level games.
Over the past few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great match officials, coaches and players across the country, and I’ve come away from every encounter with a better understanding of rugby. If there is one thing I could suggest to referees that are starting out, spend time with players and coaches as well as referees. In this case, it takes three to tango.
I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead, in 2017. I’m also looking forward to getting back out there with other referees, in Ontario, and “talking shop” post-match. It’s nice to relax in the off-season, but I’m not one to sit still for long.