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didds
21-03-05, 08:03
Imagine the scene.

Eden Park is full to the gunnels. Ther host nation is playing their arch rivals, the Aussies. The atmosphere copuld be cut with a knife.

Out come the teams. Out come the pom pom girls. Out comes the ref, a Monsieur Zutalors from Bayonne.

He blows his shistle and the two captains converge upon him.

"Bonjour mes amis" begins Zutalors. "Comment allez vous?".

The tow skippers look puzzled.

"Wossat?" queries the kiwi skipper.

"Malheureusement je ne parle pas Anglais" continues the ref "mais je vous aiderai avec beaucoup de conversation"

"Eh?" grunts the aussie skipper. "I don't understand a word that you're saying mate!".

"Me neither" replies the kiwi. Can't you say it in English?

"Mais je pénaliserai tout de suite n'importe quel joueur qui ne fait pas comme je le demande tout de suite. L'échec pour conformer aura pour résultat une carte jaune. " finishes the ref. "Allez!"

The two skippers look at each and just shrug.

Now - the above would never happen - would it?

So why was it then that Italy and France last weekend had to suffer a ref whose linguistic skills ended at "Excusez-moi" (wotcha mean these eyeties don;t understand ? Its all just foreign lingo innit?). What is the point of shouting "Get away white six" at every ruck hwne the bloke being shouted at possibly doesn't speak English?

Is this just to obvious or what?

didds

Waynepipmad
21-03-05, 09:03
Spot on Didds

I feel that a quite well paid, International Referee could learn a few French/Italian phrases (roll away, hands off, leave it etc.) as a common curtosy for these games

Simon Griffiths
21-03-05, 11:03
I'm sure this has been debated before, and OB even wrote an article for Planet Rugby on the subject (please correct me if I'm wrong OB!).

I know that the RFU certainly used to (I don't about now) produce tapes for refererees to learn important phrases in foreign languages. The English refs seem to have used these, as you hear them often call directions in foreign languages, for example you often hear White or Spreadbury in top matches calling lachez (unhand in French - hands off).

OB..
21-03-05, 12:03
I have noticed that in games between South African teams, the standard refereeing commands are given in English, but chats to players, explanations to captains etc are invariably in Afrikaans. I am reliably informed that Os du Randt's command of English is poor.

What languages are spoken a by the top nations? In the top 10 we have French and Spanish (I omit Afrikaans). The next 10 includes Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, Japanese, and Georgian. When the World Cup qualifiers are underway, many more exotic languages come into play.

It is obvious that no one referee can cope with them all.

Is it practical to have referees specialise in a few each? No, because that would mean appointing referees to games on the basis of their linguistic skill, not their refereeing skill. It would also mean that Japan, for example, would always have the same handful of referees - bad for both them and the referees.

Learning a few set phrases in a language you do not speak is fraught with danger. As an enthusiastic amateur linguist, I have plenty of experience of that. There is a world of difference between having to choose the correct set of words under pressure, and working out in slow time how to ask the way to the nearest bar.

The only practical answer is to have English as a lingua franca for a set of basic instructions that all players and referees at top levels (which will also include Heineken Cup, for example) can become familiar with. More detailed explanations can be handled when play has stopped by having translators available - on the sidelines if no player can cope.

PS. I remember when English referees (no names, no pack drill) started trying to use French they would shout "Laissez!" in the sense of "release". In fact it means "Allow!", to which the obvious riposte is "allow what?" Perhaps the most obvious expansion by a bemused Frenchman would be "laissez tomber le ballon" - drop the ball. It was only later that somebody had obviously told them to use "lâchez".

SimonSmith
21-03-05, 14:03
OB is right and yet....

Whenever I've seen Alain Rolland, and to a lesser extent David McHugh referee the French teams, they do a great job because the communication is so much easier.

I have to admit (cough, false modesty) to having easier times with French touring teams because I spent a year there playing.

The obvious thing is that if the referee can't speak the language of either of the teams, he should stick to his own one. If you've got Italy/France, and you can only stick to pidgin French, that isn't fair to Italy.

Merci!

OB..
21-03-05, 16:03
I agree it is a nice bonus, IF they can speak the language, but would you suggest that Allain Rolland and David McHugh (plus possibly Chris White) should ALWAYS referee France in the 6N? Who would do Italy?

I think it is essential that we get away from linguistic considerations when appointing international referees, and the only practicable route is the one that Air Traffic Control took long ago: use English.

If that became formally the standard practice (it is informally the case already), then aspiring international referees and players would be expected to show their paces in English at levels just below international eg Heineken cup. I'm sure some referees would enjoy a few weeks refereeing in Japan!

SimonSmith
21-03-05, 16:03
I agree with all the points you just made!

That wasn't what I was suggesting at all, I was just observing that the language thing ADDS to the referee's management toolset.

It will be English as that seems to be the lingua franca.

Simon Griffiths
21-03-05, 19:03
It's what I liked about OB's article (and therefore his response) - you can't have referees under pressure trying to call all manner of things to players in foreign languages. It would be lovely if every referee was multilingual and there were a large selection which knew every language! (Luckily no-one requires Latin referees any more! 'quid ni?' (why not) I hear you say!) As that's never going to happen, you can only go the way of a universal language - as OB says they have for air-traffic control. Much easier for a player to learn a few phrases in English than referees to learn a few phrases in many languages - and then remember which one to use in the heat of the moment.

OB..
21-03-05, 19:03
And another thing - suppose you were fluent in Japanese, refereeing Japan v Georgia. Every time you shouted instructions at the Japanese, they would understand, but the Gerogians would not have a clue. They have the right to understand what you are saying, just as much as the Japanese.

Yes, it is unfairly easy for us as native English speakers, but I do not see anything that can be done about it. Maybe when the Chinese take over the world .... "Tian bwu pah, dih bwu pah, jyy pah yang goeitz shuo jonggwo huah" which, being interpreted, means: "I fear neither heaven nor earth, only foreign devils speaking Chinese".

didds
21-03-05, 21:03
[QUOTE=OB..]I

> There is a world of difference between having to choose the correct set of >words under pressure

But the players, equally under pressure (and adrenalin!) don't have this problem magically? ie understanding a rapidly shouted instruction ina language they don't understand.

>The only practical answer is to have English as a lingua franca for a set of >basic instructions that all players and referees at top levels (which will also
> include Heineken Cup, for example) can become familiar with.

Or maybe refs should just stop shouting at players and let the players make the decison as to whether its safe to handle on the floor/stand offide etc.

What a radical idea that would be!!

;-)

didds

didds
21-03-05, 21:03
[QUOTE=OB..]I

>I think it is essential that we get away from linguistic considerations when >appointing international referees, and the only practicable route is the one >that Air Traffic Control took long ago: use English.

why not French? Or Spanish as its the most widely spoken language in the word allegedly?

didds

didds
21-03-05, 21:03
...

It will be English as that seems to be the lingua franca.




Now there's an interesting thiong to say in the context of this debate :-)

didds

didds
21-03-05, 21:03
It's what I liked about OB's article (and therefore his response) - you can't have referees under pressure trying to call all manner of things to players in foreign languages.



But its perfectly acceptable to expect players - whose actual livelihoods/incomes/futures may well depend on their performance and the result(s) - to understand a non-natural language under pressure?

An interesting defence...

didds

Simon Griffiths
21-03-05, 21:03
Of course if referees said nothing, all the players would do is whinge and moan that they 'didn't know it was a ruck' or 'you didn't say this' or 'you didn't say that'.

You can't have your cake and eat it - I'm not saying that you advocate the use of communication to the lengths it has gone, but there are people (players and coaches as much as referees) who support communication.

Also, given that virtually all foreign countries learn English as a second language (to a much better level than we learn foreign languages) it makes sense that English is the 'lingua franca' as they are used to it from an early age - most French rugby players have a better grasp of English than English football players do!

didds
21-03-05, 21:03
Now thios is the point against ref's coaching players of course - english speaking refs in games featuring one non-english speaking natioons can ONLY benefit the english speaking side with the constant verbal pollution of instructions.

True, refs in this situation might be giving leeway to the non-english speaking team.... but these are the same refs that are too "under pressure" to recall a simple phrase in another language n'est-ce pas?

didds

Simon Griffiths
21-03-05, 21:03
And generally speaking it is debatable whether the players hear what is said (particularly at the top level in front of 10,000+), all they want is to know that the referee is there and watching. Then they know not to do anything silly.

didds
21-03-05, 22:03
Of course if referees said nothing, all the players would do is whinge and moan that they 'didn't know it was a ruck' or 'you didn't say this' or 'you didn't say that'.!

They'd soon get the idea when they'd been penalised, and - no longer under pressure/with a translator - have explained why the penalty was given. the same might even be true of native english speaking sides ... but its too much of a radical conceopt these days to expect players to understand the laws and make decsions based on them. Esopecioally highly paid professionals who have time to play golf and read books during the week.


Also, given that virtually all foreign countries learn English as a second language (to a much better level than we learn foreign languages)


Do they really? Despite this claim away from tourist resorts even in western europe I rarely find people that speak anything but their own native language - and even then possibly more a local "patois" or dialect. Its a fallacy unfortunately far too peddled by all and sundry that continental europe, if not the world, is groaning with people whose grasp of the english language lurks just below the surface to the level of a waiter in a resort restaurant. It just isn't true!


it makes sense that English is the 'lingua franca' as they are used to it from an early age - most French rugby players have a better grasp of English than English football players do!

Well considering the chances in a RWC etc of maybe at least three of urguay, Chile, argentina and spain being present, or France, Ivory Coast & Cambodia say, why is English any more "prelavent" to be a lingua franca?

Even in the very top tier arguably three nations have english as a second language amongst some/many players (wales, ireland, south africa) while other nations will have players with a more natural mother/preferred tongue (new zealand, fiji). Not to mention the obvious candidates like Italy, France and Argentina.

Its not so clear cut - although the IRB is dominated by english speakers I agree.

didds

D

didds
21-03-05, 22:03
And generally speaking it is debatable whether the players hear what is said (particularly at the top level in front of 10,000+), all they want is to know that the referee is there and watching. Then they know not to do anything silly.

so why does he say anything at all in the first place then?

didds

Simon Griffiths
21-03-05, 22:03
Those guys are on £50,000+ p. annum - they've got to look/sound like they're doing something ;) . It's not such a valid point at our levels.

I agree though that there simply isn't a perfect solution. The best way is to amble on as we are currently and use the good old fashioned trial and error method of improvement - it usually works better than radical over-hauls.

OB..
21-03-05, 23:03
didds - I am not sure what you are advocating as a solution, but here are some answers to the queries you have raised.


these are the same refs that are too "under pressure" to recall a simple phrase in another language n'est-ce pas? In every game, referees are under pressure to make instant decisions. That comes with the territory, and is part of what makes a good referee. If a referee is expected to use a foreign language that he is unfamiliar with, and to do so on a few occasions when he is under even greater pressure than normal (in an international), then we are not comparing like with like. Refereeing decisions work because they are familiar. Language ones are risky because they are not.

But the other problems I have raised are more significant.


But its perfectly acceptable to expect players - whose actual livelihoods/incomes/futures may well depend on their performance and the result(s) - to understand a non-natural language under pressure? Yes. The concept is that as soon as they start getting to high levels, they start hearing referees giving the basic commands in English even in their own country (hence my South African example).



so why does he say anything at all in the first place then? Because experience is that it improves the game.

Getting the balance right can be tricky, and people will argue this point until the cows come home, but if your solution is that referees should say nothing at all, I sincerely hope you would get no takers at all. "Advantage." "Advantage over."

Simon Griffiths
21-03-05, 23:03
But its perfectly acceptable to expect players - whose actual livelihoods/incomes/futures may well depend on their performance and the result(s) - to understand a non-natural language under pressure?

The issue you have highlighted OB, a point made by didds about the players is a crucial one. In the professional game, this may (to a very small extent be true). Although I find it highly unlikely that a player would have his contract terminated because he had his hands in the ruck and was caught! Most of the international teams that didds mentions though (Spain, Uruguay etc.) are all amateur players - they have no contract to be terminated and no livelihood at stake if they mis-hear a referee's commands. Whereas, with the exception of one or two iRB A and B Panel referees (the ones used in RWCs etc.), all of these referees are professional. It would also be fair to say that if they handle a game poorly, or cannot manage ruck/tackle situations, their paid profession/livelihood is much more at stake than the players, as referees are increasingly being expected to get 99% of their decisions correct.
Therefore, I would say that a referees livelihood is more at risk than that of a players - or at least his iRB status is definitely.

OB..
22-03-05, 01:03
Chinese- 1,125 million; Spanish - 225 million; English - 350 million
(Andrew Dalby Dictionary of Languages)
Are you being serious, didds, or just being argumentative?

Perhaps you would care to outline your solution?

OB..
22-03-05, 01:03
Pilots manage - and theirs is a life and death situation, not just a game. In Judo the instructions are all in Japanese, and English judo players manage.

It is obviously easier for all players and referees to recognise a set list of English phrases that they grow up with, than to ask all referees to be able to handle several languages.

I get the impression you would like referees to say nothing at all. Please go ahead and try it. Let us know how you get on.

didds
22-03-05, 01:03
simon - I was certainly talking about the top levels of refs... I wouldn't expect a county society "level 8" ref to be multi-lingual in his instructions ... not that he's likely to encounter many international teams in his career of course!

cheers

didds

didds
22-03-05, 01:03
Yes. The concept is that as soon as they [players] start getting to high levels, they start hearing referees giving the basic commands in English even in their own country (hence my South African example).[QUOTE}

In France and Italy the refs towards top levels use English?

[QUOTE] if your solution is that referees should say nothing at all, I sincerely hope you would get no takers at all. "Advantage." "Advantage over."

Granted then for that particular usage.

So how difficult is it for a ref on 50K p.a. to learn the equiovalent of "advantage" and "advantage over" in whatever language he'll need for next Saturday?


didds

didds
22-03-05, 01:03
Although I find it highly unlikely that a player would have his contract terminated because he had his hands in the ruck and was caught!

He might get dropped from his national side following a few such "errors", costing his side a few penalties and his yellow carding - and thus maybe the game. Not inconceivable.




Most of the international teams that didds mentions though (Spain, Uruguay etc.) are all amateur players - they have no contract to be terminated and no livelihood at stake if they mis-hear a referee's commands.



That's a fair enough point... although as amateur players maybe they should be given more understanding WRT their national language as they don;t have the time that pros do to maybe brush up on their english - or have refs speak to them in english in their domestic competitions. allegedly. ;-)


cannot manage ruck/tackle situations, their paid profession/livelihood is much more at stake than the players, as referees are increasingly being expected to get 99% of their decisions correct.
Therefore, I would say that a referees livelihood is more at risk than that of a players - or at least his iRB status is definitely.


Hmmm. I'd agree his livelihood is at stake if he can't manage ruck/tackle situations etc. But he's hardly going to control them better by shouting in english at someone that doesn't understand a blind word he's saying - is he?

didds

OB..
22-03-05, 11:03
... and, of course, each team would have to learn the relevant terms in the other team's language.

Last RWC: France v Japan. Two sets of terms.

How would you cope with "use it or lose it"?
Do you think it is unhelpful to tell both teams that in your judgement the rolling maul has stopped once?
Etc.

Please stop sniping and tell us what your solution is.

didds
22-03-05, 15:03
I have already explained my solution.

If refs are to constantly handhold professional players through a match, then it is only right and proper that they do so in a language easily understood by those players. Its frankly at best patronising and at worse ignorant to assume that english will suffice and that non-english speakers must just "catch up". As I also opined you just wouldn't ever see a French/Italian only speaking ref at games played by native english speakers - so its a deliberate - and rude - policy.

That much has been clear from my first post. I feel it is no more sniping than the reverse points of view. YMMV.

didds

SimonSmith
22-03-05, 16:03
The reason for communication, as I see it, is that referees vary from person to person.

At the top level, the margin between the tackle ending and the ruck beginning is very very small. You can see the inconsistency in interpretation week in and week out; not inconsistency in law but in interpretation of timing. It's there that the need to call "ruck formed" becomes essential...

There is no perfect solution to this. As I said, I was lucky enough to be bilingual and could work well with French teams; equally, I'm confident that with no command of French at all, we could have got on. After all, the primary/secondar/tertiary signals are universal!

OB..
22-03-05, 19:03
If refs are to constantly handhold professional players through a match, then it is only right and proper that they do so in a language easily understood by those players.Yes, of course - by BOTH teams. You are effectively demanding that teams should be aware of the necessary commands in everybody else's language - information that they will in many cases use once in a blue moon.

My solution is simpler and easier.


Its frankly at best patronising and at worse ignorant to assume that english will suffice and that non-english speakers must just "catch up".It is exactly what happens at present, though I would not phrase like that. In RWC 2003 when Chris White refereed Argentina v Romania, Scott Young France v Japan, and Andrew Cole Georgia v Uruguay, what language do you suppose they used? Very limited vocabulary English.


As I also opined you just wouldn't ever see a French/Italian only speaking ref at games played by native english speakers - so its a deliberate - and rude - policy.I have no idea if there are any monolingual referees who do not have sufficient command of English for what I propose. Probably not, because once you become an international referee you will find yourself regularly visiting English-speaking countries.



That much has been clear from my first post.I asked for a summary because much of what you have written is in the form of challenges rather than solutions. Perhaps I should try to summarise what I understand your solution to be.

(1) Referees should talk a lot less.

(2) That would mean they could easily learn the few necessary phrases in the language(s) needed for their next international.

Is that a fair synopsis?

While looking back over your posts, I re-discovered this
Even in the very top tier arguably three nations have english as a second language amongst some/many players (wales, ireland, south africa) while other nations will have players with a more natural mother/preferred tongue (new zealand, fiji). Not to mention the obvious candidates like Italy, France and Argentina.The last census said there were no monoglot Welsh speakers, and I believe the same is true of the Irish. There are certainly some South Africans whose command of English is rudimentary, but they are already used to being refereed in English - this is the South African policy. I doubt if there are any New Zealand players who do not have enough English. In Fiji "[English] is the language in which the government conducts most of its business, and is the main language of education, commerce, and the courts." (source (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fiji#Language))

Because English is so wide-spread as a second language, it seems that Italy, France, and Argentina always have somebody who can speak it (even apart from foreign imports). There is a problem for those who don’t, which is what I am addressing.

My proposal is not a radical change. It is a formal codification of current practice.

didds
22-03-05, 21:03
Yes, of course - by BOTH teams. You are effectively demanding that teams should be aware of the necessary commands in everybody else's language - information that they will in many cases use once in a blue moon.

did I say that? If I did or implied it, I can only say now that I don;t expect Italians to understand French when playing each other. What I do expect is that a ref that is barking instrauctions at an Italian does so in a language that the Italian _easily_ understands - presumably Italian. And if the opposition happen to be French, then French players should receive their instructions similarly - probably in French.



I have no idea if there are any monolingual referees who do not have sufficient command of English for what I propose.

Possibly Georgia and Uruguyan referees maybe - that might (?) end up reffing RWC qualifiers in their geographical areas between other countries (not such a problem in south america for uruguyan refs of course, unless Brazil is involved!)... I dunno how such matches get "carved up" though.


Probably not, because once you become an international referee you will find yourself regularly visiting English-speaking countries. [/Quote ]

at the very top levels yes, of course.

[Quote]
Is that a fair synopsis?


basically. The more a referee can truly manage in a language the more he can speak would be a fairer summary I guess...

But, fundamentally, yes OB :-)



While looking back over your posts, I re-discovered thisThe last census said there were no monoglot Welsh speakers, and I believe the same is true of the Irish.
/[Quote]

Maybe not monoglot - but admittedly 20 years living in mid-Wales ago I met plenty of native welsh speakers whose first language - by a LONG way - was Welsh. They spoke english - but rarely through choice shall I say. I also knew several irish nurses a few years ago and a couple of thOse were native gaelic speakers (there was also a native Scots Gaelic speaker amongst the same group of nurses!)

There was one occassion when on a rugby or cricket trip from college (cant recall which now) when we got hopelessly lost up around the snowden area... we stopped a farmer on his tractor and asked him how to get to someplace or other. He just looked at us, rather blankly. We repeated the question, and he looked puzzled... then all but shook his head as if clearing it and told us the directions, and finished it off by apologising for his slowness in reply but its was the first English he'd heard for several months! That liitle story isn;t to imply that theer are a gamut (sp?) of welsh internationsla that only ever speak english, but that for some welsh english is more a lingua franca with the rest of the UK than a native language. And teher hacve certainly been natural welsh speaking internatonsal of course - Euian Evans springs to mind, and the story is that gareth Edwards in scoring _that_ try called fro tyhe ball from Quinell in Welsh although playing for a mixed race team :-) "Torre ma" (sp?) - "Give me it!" I've certainl;y played against a number fo welsh sides whose lineout calls were in welsh - amazingly shouting back "Chareg Cymraeg" ("do you speak welsh") was normally sufficient to get them to revert to calling in english which always amused me!

[Quote]Because English is so wide-spread as a second language, it seems that Italy, France, and Argentina always have somebody who can speak it (even apart from foreign imports). There is a problem for those who don’t, which is what I am addressing.

I'm not really sure how speaking any english - even a limited vocabulary - addresses the player that speaks no english at all. If he has a translator on the pitch that hardly helps him at the bottom of a ruck when the whistle is about to be blown.


Anyhow - I'm clearly in a minority of two (at last count) on this point, so won't force the issue any longer :-) I haven't been convinced otherwise from my initial point, but do accept that the majority view must hold sway :-)

cheers

didds

OB..
22-03-05, 23:03
(This is a discussion forum, with no powers at all, so majority rule is irrelevant. Your opinion is as unimportant as mine :) )


I'm not really sure how speaking any english - even a limited vocabulary - addresses the player that speaks no english at all.You seem to have missed a very important plank in my argument: BOTH sides are entitled to know what the referee is saying. That can only be sensibly accomplished if (for this limited purpose) they have a common language.

Your Welsh anecdotes (mirrored in many ways by my own experience) merely underline the fact that Welsh rugby players can be expected to understand basic English of the limited variety necessary.

If English was made the official language of refereeing, supported by an official IRB list of acceptable words and phrases, then everybody would be able to set about learning them. They could acquire the sort of automatic familiarity that does not come from trying to learn them the week before.

The Japanese refereeing Georgia v Uruguay would be in the same position as the Argentine refereeing France v Japan. Both referees could be appointed according to their refereeing skills. Language skills would be a side issue since by the time they reached international levels, everybody would be "suitably trained and experienced".

didds
23-03-05, 01:03
(This is a discussion forum, with no powers at all, so majority rule is irrelevant. Your opinion is as unimportant as mine :) )


Touche OB!!

didds