View Full Version : What international player (past or present) would make the best referee?
Joel Jutge is one of the fastest referees off the first 3 steps I've ever seen.
My favourite ref has got to be Jim Fleming. I'm reminded of his gaff of swearing on TV, causing the IRB to issue a memo to the International Panel that stated that swearing will not be tolerated in any match.
All this talk of favourite refs leads me onto another question which may be better posted in the "general" forum but oh well:
What international player (past or present) would make the best referee?
I suppose this may be a better question for the National Panel (and INTERnational Panel) as they would have the most experience with this sort of thing.
Thread split as requested...
That would be Alain Rolland, who has the distinction of having captained Ireland and also making the IRB list!
Not wanting to rain on the parade, but I'm not sure that it's a fair question to ask.
C'mon now Simon, that was the easy way out... I will therefore add one Caveat:
The player can not actually be a current (or former) Top level referee. So Alain Rolland would not count. I think there was another Irishman who also played Test Rugby and was a referee, and he doesn't count either.His Bio used to be on the IRB site but i can't find it anymore. Nigel Williams played for Wales at U19 so he is out as well despite playing for his country.
None of them then, they don't know the laws!
I am sorry but I have to agree with Robert on this one, the players just go with the flow and do not understand the laws.
In the past it was not uncommon for an international to become a referee. In 1883 George Scriven captained Ireland against Scotland. In 1884 he refereed the England-Scotland match.
Unfortunately that match produced a dispute of such proportions that the 1885 Calcutta Cup match was not played.
At international level (and ZP) the England players at least get a lot of instruction on the laws.
I suspect they know perfectly well what the laws say but (a) they often judge the situation differently; and (b) they are quite happy to take risks, if not actually cheat.
It is noticeable that when it REALLY matters,they can cut out the penalties eg Newport beating Don Clarke's All Blacks.
At lower levels, of course, players reckon to learn the laws by osmosis. That does not stop them pontificating. Few have ever seen a law book, let alone opened one.
Spot on OB, at the top levels the players will know the Laws inside out, partly to help them know when to take risks etc. etc.
All the clubs are visited by referees who clarify the players' queries (on interpretation more than Law), and the Lions and England both have specialist referee advisors on overseas tours (Lander with England at RWC, McHugh with Lions in NZ).
It's also quite true that anyone outside of National 2 probably hasn't seen a Law book.
So given his knowledge of the laws, air of authority and level of fitness we can expect Martin Johnson to make a seamless progression to refereeing...... (Sorry folks, just had this vision...) On the other hand Austin Healey surely has the necessary self confidence (hesitate to say arrogance) to be the sole judge of fact.
Martin Johnson's style of management is to lead from the front - not an option open to a referee. However he is not averse to offering advice to referees.
Austin Healey is only too happy to tell others what to do, and would need to channel that more appropriately.
I have little doubt that both would be able to use their innate understanding of the game to help with their positioning. Healey's speed would give him the edge here.
Both are intelligent enough to learn how to adapt quickly, but my gut feeling is that Healey would make the better referee, if only becasue he has so much more on-field experience.
Two guys I would have loved to see become top level referees are Rob Andrew and Nigel Melville - in generations before they probably might have.
I am sorry to disagree with some comments below, but many top players often do not know the Laws in their entirity. As OB quite rightly says, they know them as far as how much to cheat, what they can get away with, etc.
Today's players know the Laws in so far as what they are coached to do, and usually the Zurich / Panel ref will discuss interpretation with only Coach, Director of Rugby and skipper only.
The problem we now have is that unless an injury shortens a career in their late 20s, current internationals are unlikely to become referees - as it is a potentially lonely and isolated exisitence. The coaching route offers them far better opportunities.
AS to ex-internationals who appear not to know the Laws, I offer as my evidence . Brian Moore, Stuart Barnes, Eddie Butler, and some other ex-International commentators.
A recent and much applauded initiative is that all Zurich Academy players attend the NFC course, but as we know months, if not years, of refereeing experience are needed.
usually the Zurich / Panel ref will discuss interpretation with only Coach, Director of Rugby and skipper only.
That is true, but only in the week running up to a game that the referee is doing which involves that club. Gloucester certainly have times when either Chris White or Tony Spreadbury (and even Ed Morrison on occassions) go to the club and have sessions on Laws and there interpretation with the whole squad.
(Also in Gloucestershire we have a GlafRef system, where each club has a referee 'attached' to them to speak to the players and coaches etc. about the Laws, changes and interpretation - how much it's used at the top level [Gloucester] I don't know - they probably stick to the Messrs White, Spreadbury and Morrison).
We tried the same system in Hampshire a few seasons ago - every club had one or more referees assigned at same and higher levels. We especially encouraged our members to get involved pre-season.
Now the annual Law changes merry-go-round has stopped, it's less of an issue.
As is always the case, some clubs and some referees worked at it well, others were a little less enthusiastic.
A summary of season's penalty stats would be interesting (if available of course at lower levels) to see which clubs have benefitted !
We are planning to re-surrect it again this season, as we have a policy of referee-coach inclusiveness.
Certainly agree Simon that getting refs involved with clubs both pre season and during is good for all.
I recall however being told by an experienced referee not so long ago that he had run a session with a club because of their concern that they were giving away too many penalties. Knowing the ref well and his background I am sure it would have been a very good session.
I relate this tale because, as he told me, we stood watching self same club giving away needless penalty after penalty.
Of course one case proves nothing, other than that one would have to consider a rather large number of clubs before it became statistically relevant. However, although many of the players just never listen, we must not give up trying!!! We are but there to serve... and have a bit of fun.
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