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Novice-Ref
15-12-14, 23:12
I get the distinct impression that those taking up refereeing after their playing days have finished have very little chance of progressing beyond the level 6 of the local society. Has anyone experienced this "ageism"6. Do people think it is fair?

Nigib
15-12-14, 23:12
I get the distinct impression that those taking up refereeing after their playing days have finished have very little chance of progressing beyond the level 6 of the local society. Has anyone experienced this "ageism"6. Do people think it is fair?

Yes, and No. But then think what it really means for you and your work/life/referee balance. Above 6 means much more travelling and scrutiny and your time, potentially to no avail when you get overlooked for that key regrade - all this will likely reduce your enjoyment. We all like to think we are good enough to referee a WC final, but we also need to be realistic. The powers that be are looking to move the best refs into the elite in their mid-20s nowadays. This was discussed on another thread recently - others much higher up the tree than me will no doubt give their perspective.

Dixie
16-12-14, 19:12
I get the distinct impression that those taking up refereeing after their playing days have finished have very little chance of progressing... I hesitate to put forward an unhelpful answer, but your question is very imprecise. If you finish playing aged 19 due to a shoulder injury there is every chance that your refereeing career will take you as far as your skills warrant. However, if you retire from the vets aged 60 I imagine your prospects of progression beyond L.10 are limited. Is this fair? It seems so to me. So a lot depends upon the age at which you take up the whistle.

There are players in the elite game doing really well as they near their 40s - Brad Thorn and Bakkies Botha are cases in point. However, if our American cousin were to arrive on these shores aged 30 and show an aptitude for the game, how many of us would think it outrageously unfair if the pro clubs declined to accept him onto their books? Of course, refereeing is a lot less physical than playing but it is also (arguably) more technical. Developing the knowledge, the judgement and the management skills required of a high-level (not necessarily elite) ref is a resource-intensive undertaking - and those resources are stretched. It's surely not to be wondered at that those tasked with allocating such resources should prioritise the potential refs with a long career ahead of them and without the sort of fixed mindset that often comes with age and experience?

In an ideal world, the 60 year-old referee with great legs and wind would have the same opportunity to progress as the 20 year-old. If we accept that it is reasonable to prioritise the 20 year-old ahead of the 60 year-old on grounds of age, then we have conceded the ageism point and are just debating where the line should be drawn. There is no right answer to that - just the line as it imperfectly exists at the moment.

KML1
16-12-14, 19:12
Agree with other replies. We have two chaps in our society who have just started refereeing (in last 2 seasons) after finishing their playing days and both are doing very well and are on Federation/Group already. Yes, they are in their 20s.

Reality as mentioned above is that at the higher levels, it is more professional (whether they admit it or not) and so pro rugby attracts younger players who cost less. So can a 40 year old keep up with and manage a game packed with 20 year olds.

Glass ceilings are there to be broken (ask any women in the workplace). If you are good enough and can demonstrate you have the skills, aptitude, mental and physical capability of refereeing national league rugby, then there is no ceiling. We're in the evidence based business. If you find you have people in your society who you think are holding you back purely because of your age, the best work around is to provide them with the evidence (reports and performances) that they are wrong. Evidence of capability should equal promotion.

Browner
17-12-14, 01:12
Evidence of capability should equal promotion.

Yep, that's the way it is supposed to work.
& if it isn't then try a bit of 'positive discrimination' , seems to work in other employment areas ! :deadhorse:


Dixie - It's surely not to be wondered at that those tasked with allocating such resources should prioritise the potential refs with a long career ahead of them . Wasn't that the reason put forward for why women of pre-child bearing years shouldn't get executive/managerial jobs?! :rc:

Hey, there isn't a one size fits all answer here, express your ambitions to your society and listen to what they say, because ( aside from a neighbouring society, who may hold similar views ) there isn't an alternative route anyway:shrug:

Dickie E
17-12-14, 02:12
I hesitate to put forward an unhelpful answer,

why start now? :)

Dickie E
17-12-14, 03:12
all about risk assessment and return on investment.

Do I build a factory in a country with low cost of labour but a history of political upheaval or stick with stability but higher cost? Might save a few bucks in the first 5 years but is it a sensible long-term strategy?

Do I invest in a referee who wasn't passionate enough to ref in his 20s but now is in his 40s, has a greater propensity to (possible) injury, a likely shorter life at the top and has a wife, 4 kids and a mortgage to juggle ... or go with a youngster.

Simon Thomas
17-12-14, 07:12
Other key constraints are the availability of matches at levels above 6, and overall the human resources (all volunteers these days except four or five paid staff at Elite and top of PNR) that we have to act as Referee Coaches, Match Observers, Assessors, Advisers, Mentors, etc and the people like me who manage the process and people involved as Grading Chairman / SADO-FADO-GADO.

I agree with Keith's comments and we as a Society, Federation and Group develop and promote based on evidence, commitment and achievement. The constraint is of course who gets the opportunity to show those facets, and that is restricted by the rugby pyramid of matches at each level declining. It is a competitive environment, and development referees are selected for advancement in the same way as players are selected for bigger clubs, representatives sides etc - all on evidence.

As I have said elsewhere level 6 is the highest level any Society appoints to, in some cases (South East Federation) it may even be Level 8 or 9. At L5 the four Groups appoint and that level is used as the testing ground for potential Panel Officials and as a level with nationally consistent protocols, standards, and process - part driven by the clubs coaches and DoRs.

The only referees selected for the Group squads (usually just 10-12 referees per Group, so under 50 across England = very competitive selection process) are those with demonstrated ability to be a National Panel Referee (as outlined by Keith above) and able to commit to being a member of PNR for a number of years to give a decent return on the financial and human resources put into their development process.

So I do not see it as a glass ceiling, but a mainly transparent evidence based selection process that rewards evidence of ability, performance, commitment, and potential,. As Keith mentioned we have two referees who have already made it to Group in 2-3 seasons, with a third close behind. All three are very fit, have good level playing experience, referee two/three times per week, have high levels of commitment and dedication, analyse and develop their own refereeing alongside their coaches/observers, and spend more time on their rugby than players at their level (some of whom are semi-pros).

TheBFG
17-12-14, 09:12
Yes there is! Simples. There will always be an exception to the rule, I know of a number of ex pro players taking up the whistle that are being fast tracked, let's take them out of the discussion.

For everyone else if you're over 35 you have very little chance of ever making it above L6 and as you near 40 that gets even lower. We have 2 young refs (there are others) in our society that are being pushed hard, why because they're 18!!!! Can they ref as well as some of the journey men L8's, I doubt it. But how they're regarded is refs that can be moulded into what is required in the semi/pro game. Are they as committed as some of the other refs that do 40-50 games a year, probably not, but as has already been said, they will give a massive return on their investment and we as a society have a duty (might not be the right word) to do that for the group and them for the panel.

I have now reached my ultimate level and TBH it's higher than I thought I'd get, but that said, when the opportunity comes to ref a cup match where we have L4 + L5 teams involved, I take it with both hands!

If you go back to my first posts on here, it was all about giving something back to the game, well now I'm starting to give something back to the refs society as I mentor these young refs and go and watch new ones when I'm not appointed.

SimonSmith
17-12-14, 13:12
I reached B2 before I emigrated, and I was (I think) 29 when I got to those august heights. I worked hard when I was with Hampshire, doing at least 2 games a week for 90% of the season, and went where I was asked to go. I also trained hard during the week.

I think that attitude, plus whatever raw skill I had, got me to where I got.

I'm still committed to refereeing, but I have other things going on in my life; I'd be single and unemployed if I tried, now, to do what I was doing then.

Over here, the older referee who is just starting will cap out at C1. There is a very clear glass ceiling (if you'll pardon my mangling of English). USA R doesn't have the financial resources to spread a lot of love, and they are and will continue to spend it on youngsters. They are explicit: faced with two referees who are equal in terms of performance, they will pick the youngster on the basis of potential and return on investment. There is I am afraid a hell of a lot of downside to that strategy, and we're starting to see the repercussions thereof. But their cap is set in that direction.

*puffs on pipe ruminatively* I'll tell you the psychological turning point in my refereeing, and it may have come from a forum member. I was busting myself worrying about grades and promotion, and it was starting to show in my refereeing. Getting a bit fussy, and constantly tweaking and refining according to the last piece of advice I got. Someone sat me down and just told me to relax and referee my natural game, and enjoy it for what you get out of it. If you get promoted, great. If not, great as well, because you'll be happy and refereeing at the height of your potential. I thought on that, and took that approach with me. Without that piece of advice, I wouldn't have made the old C1/B3 jump.

Relax, and do your best. You start worrying about refereeing for the grades and I think you end up doing yourself, and the game, a disservice.

Accylad
17-12-14, 13:12
I have now reached my ultimate level and TBH it's higher than I thought I'd get,

Ditto

You just have to find different challenges - for me this season it is improving my sprinting speed. There is the constant search to referee each game as perfectly as possible of course.

As an interesting aside the Saturday before last my buddy with whom I have moved up the grades and reached L6 in the same season was on the reserve list and had been allocated a game at L10 when he got a call 90 mins before KO time to get himself over to a club and referee a L5 league match (lucky so and so...) He is in his mid 50's.

It was a tight game with a close score. He said it was not so much of a stretch over a tough L6 (unsurprisingly) and that he felt all the "too old" L6 refs in the Society would have done an equally good job. He report showed a good performance I thought (we have always shared our reports to learn from and support each other) and the assessor said it was an average L5 referee performance.

What it tells me is that given the opportunity I and many others could comfortably operate at L5 if given the opportunity. It might even be easier than the current problem with is one L6 per month with mainly L7 and the odd L8 and school game because each week is L5 and you would get used to it...

The opportunity wont come unless in similar exceptional circumstances. Ah well....

Nigib
17-12-14, 13:12
Accylad identifies the very practical problem that no matter how good you are, there are very few games at higher levels compared to the number of potentially capable referees. To demonstrate that capability we would need to be able to regularly have those higher level games; this can't happen practically, hence a selection process. Age is an obvious criterion, whether it should be or not, because it's easy to do the 'business case' to justify promoting younger referees. It would be better if it wasn't competitive, so that we could all reach the level of our individual capability, but like so many other things life's not like that.

crossref
17-12-14, 14:12
do people fall back down the grades later if fitness/performance starts to decline... or once you achieve a grade is it yours for life.

Nigib
17-12-14, 14:12
Your advisor provides a view, and then yes you get graded (or regraded) according to your current level, not on past glories. I know refs who will retire rather than be pushed down the grades. But if you are intent on giving something back to the game, and remain fit enough, surely you would bring your wealth of experience to lower levels - the players certainly appreciate having a more experienced ref. And the players of course go through the same process. I have no idea what I will do if (more likely when) that moment comes for me.

Simon Thomas
17-12-14, 14:12
do people fall back down the grades later if fitness/performance starts to decline... or once you achieve a grade is it yours for life.

Varies by Society.

In Hampshire we do downgrade as referees slow down physically, or can't referee every week / twice a week to maintain high standards to retain their grade. I went through that process myself over the last few years. This avoids a bottleneck at higher levels, as has been pointed out the number of matches at each level reduces quite dramatically.

Appointments and reappointments team are crucial in getting the right refs on the right matches, and even though an ex L6 is now a L9 he may well get the top of the table local L9 derby needing his experienced management.

For those "experienced" mature referees yo do keep fit we offer every opportunity to get special matches as rewards and a thank you.
As well as being a development motivation and achievement goal, the grade is there to assist in match appointments and is our benchmark "in delivering a competent, trained referee of the appropriate grade level to the fixture" - which is part of our mission statement and contract with the CB.

ChrisR
17-12-14, 14:12
I think that attitude, plus whatever raw skill I had, got me to where I got.

Like, exiled to the colonies?

OB..
18-12-14, 14:12
do people fall back down the grades later if fitness/performance starts to decline... or once you achieve a grade is it yours for life.
In my Society we have a special grading - Senior Squad. An SS6 is a referee who was Level 6 but is now refereeing at a lower level.

Browner
18-12-14, 18:12
In my Society we have a special grading - Senior Squad. An SS6 is a referee who was Level 6 but is now refereeing at a lower level.

This is a good idea, its recognising ( and therefore satisfying the ego ...term used loosely!) The former operating skill level of the referee.

So what about expanding on this & having a dual ranking system as follows

Say OB is a L10+6
Denoting he is operating at L10 now, but has been at L4 at his peak . This would still recognise the old boys who are following their fitness slope but make it obvious to all that they are likely excellent game managers befitting their experience.

For the climbers , say BFG might be a L6-1 reflecting his previous ranking was a L7. If he were L6-2 then last ranking was a L8 which would indicate more rapid progress being made.

Would that work as a uniformed recognition, to remove the perceived 'stigma' of being down graded ( if it exists) ? Any downside?

Dixie
18-12-14, 18:12
why start now? :) Remember - I know where you're going to be this summer!

Daftmedic
19-12-14, 08:12
I think that attitude, plus whatever raw skill I had, got me to where I got.

Like, exiled to the colonies?
http://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l541/daftmedic/04ECFCFA-E989-4D38-82F8-EA8AAC7BD9EB.jpg (http://s1123.photobucket.com/user/daftmedic/media/04ECFCFA-E989-4D38-82F8-EA8AAC7BD9EB.jpg.html)

didds
19-12-14, 12:12
Do I invest in a referee who wasn't passionate enough to ref in his 20s but now is in his 40s, has a greater propensity to (possible) injury, a likely shorter life at the top and has a wife, 4 kids and a mortgage to juggle ... or go with a youngster.

... who may soon have a wife,4 kids, mortgage etc etc etc ;-)

didds

ddjamo
19-12-14, 12:12
is anyone going to point out the big pink elephant in the room? that is - the system does not increase the longevity of referees one single bit?

example: mr. 24y/o winger...very fast, the look they want, etc. "hey winger...you should referee...the way you run, your personality, your intelligence, your beep score...you could do very well...you ARE the right age...have you ever thought how cool it would be to referee on the big stage?" "hell yeah," says mr. winger and off he goes...trades in his shorts for society shorts and within 1 year he's elevated past the 30's and 40's guys to a list and expected to really catch on - because he has "what it takes."

now mr. winger doesn't make it very high. most don't. well...hardly any ever do. now is mr. winger going to settle into his say grade 6, start doing the normal things referees do, join the ranks and hang out with the guys he passed by on his way up the ladder?

nope - he quits.

so look at the end result. wasted time, effort and funds. pissed off the middle aged guys, some quit and some swear to never support the system that passed them over due to ageism.

now there are less referees and less middle aged guys willing to help "the system." so back to the search - identify another handful, tell them they are great - repeat the 2-3 year process.

I have seen it happen over and over and over in the US and (not nearly as frequent) in ontario. if there is data supporting the current system showing that it is in fact successful - please post.

when I was in scotland in '12 I met two young guys that were already doing lower level internationals. I was really looking forward to seeing them on tv some day. in '13 when mcmenemy came over to toronto I asked him about the young men - he said they both capped out and quit the gig. one went on to work in the family biz and the other went back to playing. then I heard that 2 guys around 40 that I had met gave it up due to the "system."

explain to me how all of this makes sense?

ddjamo
19-12-14, 13:12
but not to be one that criticizes without helping...

why not have clearly defined pathways? make it known that the younger guys will do X as they progress...but the older guys get to do X. and at that point the best is identified and eligible to do X. also, what's wrong with the young guys working the line for the senior refs? if I were 25 I would much prefer to learn from a guy like womble than a clipboard as an example. then the young guys learn to respect the work and time the senior refs have put in. the current system (at least in the US) draws a very distinct line between senior refs and the hyper promoted young guys which leads to many issues. the system is not sustainable IMO.

OB..
19-12-14, 14:12
... or how about the young centre who was fast tracked and became arguably the best referee in the world? (Chris White)

Obviously most will not realistically expect that, not even Chris, but we need some form of data rather than anecdotal evidence.

SimonSmith
19-12-14, 20:12
Jamo is (was?) President of his Union. As am I. While anecdotal, I have the emails and the club feedback and the attrition data and the quotes from USA R to validate our position. Rather than type it all out, can I just ask you to trust us on this.

L'irlandais
19-12-14, 20:12
http://i1123.photobucket.com/albums/l541/daftmedic/04ECFCFA-E989-4D38-82F8-EA8AAC7BD9EB.jpg (http://s1123.photobucket.com/user/daftmedic/media/04ECFCFA-E989-4D38-82F8-EA8AAC7BD9EB.jpg.html)Oh, YES he did!

Simon Thomas
19-12-14, 20:12
Jamo is (was?) President of his Union. As am I. While anecdotal, I have the emails and the club feedback and the attrition data and the quotes from USA R to validate our position. Rather than type it all out, can I just ask you to trust us on this.

Ditto

Dave Sherwin
19-12-14, 21:12
I was busting myself worrying about grades and promotion, and it was starting to show in my refereeing. Getting a bit fussy, and constantly tweaking and refining according to the last piece of advice I got. Someone sat me down and just told me to relax and referee my natural game, and enjoy it for what you get out of it. If you get promoted, great. If not, great as well, because you'll be happy and refereeing at the height of your potential. I thought on that, and took that approach with me.

Couldn't agree more. I had exactly this discussion with Biggsy (UK refs will know) some time ago, and trite though it sounds, it was the best piece of coaching I ever received. My style became more relaxed, players responded positively and stodgy progress turned into very rapid progress. Similarly, the first significant step forward I made was after refereeing in Dubai where I had an epileptic fit on the morning of the first day of the Sevens and proceeded to referee in something of a semi-conscious haze for the next three days, ending up with the fourth ranking final. When my brain was too mushy to think about all the detail, I relaxed and refereed my best. NOTE: refereeing following a fit is a BAD thing unless you've been invited to Dubai and aren't going to miss the chance for all the tea in China!

OB..
20-12-14, 01:12
Jamo is (was?) President of his Union. As am I. While anecdotal, I have the emails and the club feedback and the attrition data and the quotes from USA R to validate our position. Rather than type it all out, can I just ask you to trust us on this.
If you have been collecting and analysing data, that's great. As reported it sounded anecdotal (more interesting that way than dry statistics - unless you happen to be a statistician!)

Browner
21-12-14, 09:12
http://www.englandrugby.com/news/features/real-rugby-stories-ref-coach-and-player/

Any 15 yro that can competently handle fixtures involvong the 2nd xv of a L4 club, must have ability beyond his years.

Novice-Ref
21-12-14, 10:12
Thanks for everyone's comments, they seem to be consistent with what I have experienced.

I joined my local society last year, I do consider myself ambitious and not really contrained by my lifestyle from doing what I want to do

I was told to move up the ladder I needed 1. to be fit 2. get plenty of experience 3. Be committed

For my part

1. I joined a gym and through running and rowing I am now 13 stone down from 17.5 two years ago. I have been told that I achieved the highest yo-yo score in the society.

2. Last season I refereed 80 games and am nearly at 50 so far this season

3. I have thrown myself into analysis, research, meetings and indeed probably learnt a lot about the laws of rugby that perhaps I should already have known. I have given the society virtually no constraint on where or when I referee

For the society

I have had continual support and last season went on exchange whenever asked, I was observed/assessed 15 times and invited to attend Federation meetings to help my development

At the end of my first season I was graded to level 6.

This season I have tried to maintain my commitment but have been told from many sources that I will not be going any further and indeed when the RFU take the level 6 refs, I wont be required.

I am 48 years old

To be frank, I would have preferred to have been told I didn't have the ability to beyond level 6 than using age. I can't influence my age.

My View

To the people who say I should have taken up reffing 20 years ago, no chance. For me rugby is about playing the game, officiating is second best. I don't understand the obsession with bringing on really young refs. Surely a good 10-15 years playing is a better grounding combined with Sunday and midweek refereeing? This can leave a good 20 year refereeing career for those who want it.

In hindsight I wish I had started reffing earlier in my life. I always held the view that playing and reffing were mutually exclusive. There should have been someone out there making the point that you could do both.

Personally I do feel a bit irked when I hear stories of young refs who have been appointed to games beyond their ability on the basis that they are showing potential. I was always taught in business that you shouldn't promote someone until they have proven themselves to be able to perform in the role.

As for the future I am sure I could referee at a higher level for at least another 5-8 years. If I recruited someone into a role and they performed at that level for that length of time, I would be happy.

As is, I guess after next season, I am on the downhill. School games on a Saturday morning are good along with colts on a Sunday. As for Saturday afternoon, I haven't stopped playing fully, I may well have a bit more social rugby in me yet!

Regards

Browner
21-12-14, 11:12
48, one season, @L6, yoyo, well done.

It sounds like 'potential' to me, perhaps not for Showbiz, but why not L5 -> L2 or ARing etc... ( rhetorical)

ddjamo
21-12-14, 11:12
Thanks for everyone's comments, they seem to be consistent with what I have experienced.

I joined my local society last year, I do consider myself ambitious and not really contrained by my lifestyle from doing what I want to do

I was told to move up the ladder I needed 1. to be fit 2. get plenty of experience 3. Be committed

For my part

1. I joined a gym and through running and rowing I am now 13 stone down from 17.5 two years ago. I have been told that I achieved the highest yo-yo score in the society.

2. Last season I refereed 80 games and am nearly at 50 so far this season

3. I have thrown myself into analysis, research, meetings and indeed probably learnt a lot about the laws of rugby that perhaps I should already have known. I have given the society virtually no constraint on where or when I referee

For the society

I have had continual support and last season went on exchange whenever asked, I was observed/assessed 15 times and invited to attend Federation meetings to help my development

At the end of my first season I was graded to level 6.

This season I have tried to maintain my commitment but have been told from many sources that I will not be going any further and indeed when the RFU take the level 6 refs, I wont be required.

I am 48 years old

To be frank, I would have preferred to have been told I didn't have the ability to beyond level 6 than using age. I can't influence my age.

My View

To the people who say I should have taken up reffing 20 years ago, no chance. For me rugby is about playing the game, officiating is second best. I don't understand the obsession with bringing on really young refs. Surely a good 10-15 years playing is a better grounding combined with Sunday and midweek refereeing? This can leave a good 20 year refereeing career for those who want it.

In hindsight I wish I had started reffing earlier in my life. I always held the view that playing and reffing were mutually exclusive. There should have been someone out there making the point that you could do both.

Personally I do feel a bit irked when I hear stories of young refs who have been appointed to games beyond their ability on the basis that they are showing potential. I was always taught in business that you shouldn't promote someone until they have proven themselves to be able to perform in the role.

As for the future I am sure I could referee at a higher level for at least another 5-8 years. If I recruited someone into a role and they performed at that level for that length of time, I would be happy.

As is, I guess after next season, I am on the downhill. School games on a Saturday morning are good along with colts on a Sunday. As for Saturday afternoon, I haven't stopped playing fully, I may well have a bit more social rugby in me yet!

Regards

what are your feelings about helping the "powers that be" in the future; assessing, coaching, etc.?

Novice-Ref
24-12-14, 17:12
Whatever your rugby interests, there is plenty of volunteer work to do both whilst playing, refereeing or after your legs have given up the game. Anyone with an interest should look up the RFU "keep your boots on" campaign.

tim White
26-12-14, 12:12
From what I've seen playing AND refereeing affects negatively BOTH your playing and refereeing.

Unless you prefer refereeing I would stick to playing for as long as you can at the level you are happy to play at.

ALSO;

Some refereeing does help you as a COACH, Some COACHING can help you as a referee.
Being a Coach does not make you better than the referee, being a referee does not make you better than the coach.
:chin:

ChrisR
26-12-14, 13:12
Some refereeing does help you as a COACH, Some COACHING can help you as a referee.
Being a Coach does not make you better than the referee, being a referee does not make you better than the coach.

Agree to a degree. As a coach who referees the trap to avoid is getting caught up in the game from a coaches perspective. Absolutely agree that refereeing advances a coaches skill.