View Full Version : Californian Referee Assault
Don't know how many of you heard about the assault on a Ref (Paul Berman)at an U19 girls game in California - not pretty and a sad reflection on how crowds can be. What happened to playful banter?
Assault on Ref in CA (http://www.insidebayarea.com/dailyreview/localnews/ci_2739361)
Crying shame - read about it via a Gloucester RFC message board. Police looking to prosecute. It was nice to see that the people involved in the club (rather than the supporters) stepped in to help out - leaving one unconcious and one with three broken ribs.
I get a strong feeling that the perpetrators weren't 'true rugby folk'.
As a US referee, this is the second case I'm aware of in recent months.
A club has been banned indefinitely for several players having committed criminal assault on the field. I believe that the referee was untouched, but opposition players were, to put it mildly, given a good kicking.
unbelievably, one of the "defences" was the level of frustration that the players were having with the referee's decisions.
Rugby is a nascent sport in the USA, and is stuck now, I think, with two images: one, the "lets have a game and then PARTY" mentality, and now this violence. It's not often that you see rugby bmake the headlines for all the right reasons.
Not a good thing. :(
Not a good thing. :(
And so say all of us. Nothing short of an utter disgrace.
Simon, would be interested to know how you view the general attitude of players in the US. Regret woefully ignorant of the game stateside... any points would be interesting ... Cheers, Mike
That's a really broad question, and in some ways can be answered by "depends on the coach and/or the captain."
On a more concrete basis, I think it's not dissimilar to England - the higher up the tree you go, the more the players think they know....
The attitude to the game itself is great - this is a poorly funded, administratively so-so, sport which is heavily dependent on volunteers, and on players willing to pay occasionally substantial amounts. For example, my local Women's College Team, Mary Washington, had to travel from Virginia to California twice in a fortnight I think. Total cost to students was in the region of $400 - and they were travelling because they had reached the final 8 and 4 of the nation at their level. Most teams match that kind of commitment.
The administration of the game leaves a great deal to be desired, but part of that is the challenge that faces any organization that spans an area the size of the USA. There are inconsistencies from governing body to governing body, and USA Rugby doesn't have the same degree of influence that the RFU does.
Attitudes to referees can often depend on the referee's attitude. I've seen a couple of teams with whom I would say I have a good rapport when I referee them turn into absolute demons with other referees. Part of that is the variabel standard of referees; a level 1 college men's side could get a good referee one week (graded B1) and a C3 shocker the next. Not the C3's fault, but the allocations aren't based on ability - geography works against that. However, would you imagine putting a C3 out for Gosport 1s? Because that's what happening.
And that breeds problem on top of problem. Not only is there is an ability mismatch, but a man management mismatch as well, which just adds fuel to fires.
A lot of referees are not ex players, which can lead to problems too - lack of empathy with players. That old diktat about knowing when NOT to blow your whistle isn't widespread here, and that can cause a lot of frustration.
Not being funny, but having a funny accent here can help - automatic credibility points! I would also say that you don't have to keep reproving yourself week after week. Once a team "likes" you, that tends to be the way things stay. In the UK, I always felt that no matter how well I had got on with ateam the last time I had seen them, I had to start again from afresh.
My only other general observation is that the attitude from the Ladies game is a joy 95% of the time - they listen, they learn, they don't mouth off, and they try to play rugby. And they encourage each other. I have never, ever, heard one teammate criticize another one. Would that the men could be like that!
Answer the question!?
This is my first season of Ref-ing and also my first few months in the States and I have nothing but admiration for the commitment shown by the teams I have seen.
Unlike the UK where you have established clubs, pitches and 3rd half venues the guys/gals over here scrounge and scavenge for every little thing. I was at first shocked by the state of some of the municipal pitches and the quirky markings but seeing 18 year olds strap on PVC piping with duck tape to a set of football (kissball not NFL) posts so they have a set of uprights is an indication of the passion brewing for the game over here.
As a newbie I don't want to see critical/big headed but I would agree that quality, through experience rather than ability, is diverse hence team fustrations. Whilst 25 yrs playing experience doesn't make you a good Ref it does help have a feel for what is going on and know where trouble can erupt. Accent? - "Frightfully useful old boy... ham it up as much as you can!"
With numbers of Refs limited within the society it is hard enouogh to get a Ref for every game let alone getting assessors out to grade which doesn't help get fresh blood up through the ranks which in turn doesn't get new boys doing the upper teir games that they could undoubtedly handle and that would nurture them further.
To all Refs back in UK I would encourage you to get your societies to try and forge links with ones over here and get an exchange program going. Beer is awful and comes in girls size pints but other than that....bloody marvelous.
Simon, thanks for this, most interesting... Clearly still early days in the evolution of rugby in the US. Guess UK's 100year start helps.
Terrible story to read about, but action is being taken it appears.
Such violence, lack off respect for officials is a malaise of all developed countries and perhaps is reflective of societry in general, the TV/video/DVD dream-world culture, and professional sports own behavioural failings.
Hampshire Society hosted a referee from Florida a year ago and are currently planning two-way exchanges with Florida and Virginia for 2005-2006.
Two ex-Hampshire guys are heavily involved in USA rugby - Gerry Firzgerald in Florida and Dave Metcalfe is a senior advisor covering most of the country.
The biggest issue is funding, so all members with frequent flyer miles are encouraged to consider a USA flight !
Have to agree with Simon in VA, and with SpamExile (where are you located). The limited facilities are often offset by the sheer enthusiasm of the players who just want to get the game played.
I'm still relatively new, and what I'm working on trying to do is get the back-chat down. It seems to be that in the US players in all sports just expect to be able to criticize the officials. The sad thing is that overseas players who come over to play for a few seasons (or who emigrate) quickly pick up on this and so they then criticize but with the added weight of them thinking that they MUST know better because they grew up in England/NZ/SA/Aus etc.
That's where my foreign (ie British) accent helps. Instant credibility!
Got one of those too Simon!
Problem is that in this part of the country there are often very few American accents on the pitch at all!
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