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Thread: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

      
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    Default When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    Hi, I only started ref'ing last season as no one else volunteered and I'm the only female ref in our whole club. I've really tried to swot up on all the (v confusing) rules but at a recent away festival when the match organisers allocated me to ref two teams (neither was my own ) both of the coaches on both sides gave me a pretty tough deal. Now I'm not a shrinking violet but I also know I have to learn. How officious are you generally. I was told on my courses that keeping the game flowing was important at this stage, to only really penalise deliberate foul play or dangerous play and to just tell the kids off and help them out with the rules at this stage, this did not go down well with the two coaches at all and I nearly threw down my whistle and walked off (which would have been childish I know). How officious are you all, what are the most important rules to concentrate on and how do you deal with horrid coaches who give you a hard time and parents who will shout at you but not get off their bums and volunteer?

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    Rugby Club Member Flish's Avatar

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    Welcome to the gang, I do a lot of minis rugby refereeing as I coach (U11 currently) so am grateful to you, and I sympathise, because you can do everything right in terms of the spirit, helping the kids, and following the law adjustments (which most other coaches and parents don't know!) and still take flack for it, you need a thick skin, and best I can suggest is not getting too involved in confrontational conversations as it never helps. Explain what you saw, and why you did what you did, or if you didn't see it tell them. If someone keeps going, or you have raised voices then remind them about the example they are supposed to be setting to the kids, they won't like it, but it trumps all else, and more often than not ends an unsatisfactory situation. If you are really uncomfortable then stop the game / ask them to leave, of if post match talk to your clubs safeguarding officer and let them deal with it.

    Firstly the priorities I take into every game are safety first, fun second. So any foul play (tackles above armpit, handing off etc), blow straight away is the guidance I was given. Same for anything you're not happy with on safety grounds (lifting tackles, players jumping into tackles etc), better safe than sorry. Whatever you do when you penalise make sure you explain, it's almost never deliberate, and is just a combination of skill, tiredness, frustration that bubbles out. So be sympathetic and explain everything.

    Everything else is just kids trying their best, so the best ammunition you have is the very first law in the NROP which in essence says that if it's not material, or doesn't disadvantage the opposition then play on. So knock ons or bobbles at younger age groups, or messy rucks where they over run, or a bit in at the side, or offsides where they've got a bit lost on the pitch, just play on if you can, as long as it doesn't disadvantage the opposition it's all good. The aim is to get the ball out of the pile of bodies and into hands again (hence the pass away at all tackles, rucks, mauls etc). But talk, talk, talk. Tell them what you're seeing, tell them what you want them to do, and explain the decisions with coaching tips about what they could have done differently afterwards. End of the day no one is there to listen to your whistle.

    Quite often you will also get mismatched teams, I had one the other week where my team (most with 5 yrs experience) was pitched up against a team of almost entirely newcomers, so I gave the newcomers team a lot more lee way (knock ons, offside, forward passes, playing the ball on the ground) compared to the experienced team, but we also talked amongst coaches before hand, and explained to the parents the situation. If those on the touch line understand what you're aiming to achieve they'll understand in advance and makes your life easier.

    However, at the end of the day there will always be a difference of opinion, and you'll always be wrong (and right!), so ask yourself at the end of the game if if everyone stayed safe, and had fun, an you'll have done your job. Yesterday I pinged my team for offside at the kick (3 players in front of the kicker and kicker forgot to chase his own kick, and kids natural instinct to chase the ball in their first 3 months of kicking), had to explain the laws to two of my own coaches, and still they weren't particularly happy, but I felt 3 players offside putting the opposition player trying to catch under pressure was material. If I'd let it go the opposition coach would have grumbled. Luckily I have a fairly thick skin and move on, my wife on the touchline, more offended on my behalf!

    Mostly however, thank you for doing it, and please keep it up!

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    Welcome Verity. There's a lot to unpack in that post.

    What I suggest is that you penalise everything that is clear and obviously a PK. When you aren't sure you should let it go. Also if you see a non foul play PK offence that has no impact on play just let it go - but if you get a chance let the player know later that you saw it and he/she should watch themselves.

    Let the kids have a good run around and have a good time.

    Try to pay no attention to the crowd or bolshy coaches. This is easier said than done, but remember that they are only watching from one point of view - their teams. Most likely they know bugger all about the rules, and if challenged most of them will accept your judgement. This is something that comes from experience and confidence.
    "There is far too much talk about good ball and bad ball. In my opinion, good ball is when you have possession and bad ball is when the opposition have it." - Dick Jeeps

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    I'd echo the other two posts, the only thing I would add is that it is normal (in my experience) to be stricter at festivals.

    This is because the
    - standard of play will be higher - the kids playing will likely be the best ones in their age group
    - and also with so many different refs the only way to achieve consistency from game to game is to be genrally tighter in the application of the Laws.


    At all the festivals I went to there was always a referee briefing. Go to that, and try and bring one your fellow coaches as well, so that they hear it first hand. At that briefing there is often a discussion about how strict to be, and to forge a common approach on the various ambiguities in the Laws, and sorting out any urban myths etc. It really helps for consistency (and it helps your self confidence if you are applying guidance all agreed an hour earlier)

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    Rugby Club Member Rich_NL's Avatar

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    Sorry to hear you had a bad experience with the coaches! I hope you find them to be the unpleasant exception - generally at this age group things are much more easy-going. I've only once had to march a penalty on 5m because of the way the coach was behaving on the sidelines, and that put a stop to the trouble.

    You're correct to always penalise foul play and dangerous play, because that's the best coaching and education tool to teach kids what they can and can't get away with. As far as other penalties, they're a good teaching tool to bring your coaching point home: call things as soon as you see them, and only penalise if they ignore you. Tell someone they're offside, wave them back, but if they still hare after the ball-carrier then giving the penalty teaches them that what they're doing is not acceptable.

    It's frustrating to have a game whistled dead, but it's also frustrating for players and coaches to see obvious penalties not being punished, or the ball smothered, or the scrum-half clattered by an offside player, or the ball stolen from a side entry at the ruck. Recently one of the older youth teams (I think ~U14) at our club played a match in which lots of ref coaching and no penalties were given. They hated it, because it rewarded the team that consistently committed penalties and penalised the one trying to stick to a game plan and play within the rules. So it's all about balance, and getting experience - perhaps watching how other refs do it, what you like and don't like about their level of strictness, and how much the kids enjoy or get frustrated.

    At U10 the ref has to work to give the ball enough space to breathe and not just oversee one maul after another, and coaches want to teach the kids to pass. So (depending on your local age grade laws) I also look for offsides, enough distance back from penalties/taps, and try and keep the breakdowns clean enough for the SH to get the ball away. Mostly by preventative verbal warnings and explanations to help them play within the law, but a penalty where everyone expects it to come will keep the game enjoyable for everyone. For what it's worth, I love helping out with U10 and U12 levels, but a couple of more experienced fellow refs I know hate it because they find it so difficult to find that balance of coaching and enforcing.

    As for the coaches and parents - if I have time before the match I'll ask the coaches if there's anything in particular that they want me to watch out for, and then filter out sideline noise as much as possible. If you're new or feel unsure, there's nothing wrong with saying that (at this level) and asking for feedback after the game - otherwise they've spent 20 minutes getting more and more wound up about why you aren't blowing this up or are blowing that.

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    There is plenty of great advice in all the above posts. It is always a difficult balance between keeping the game flowing and the kids having fun whilst adhering as well as possible to the laws.

    The key things for me that really help (and generally seem to be well-received by coaches and parents alike) are:

    - Talking to the kids. I will generally be talking throughout the entire game (it's exhausting!). It can be anything from encouragement ("great tackle", "good hands" etc.) to early warnings of potential infringements ("watch the offside, please") but, most importantly, for me is explaining to a player/team why they were penalised and what they could have done differently. I've seen so many refs blow the whistle and award a FP/FK with little or no clarification to the children... this just leads to everybody getting frustrated! If you do it loudly enough this can have the added benefit of informing the coaches/parents who may also be grumbling and moaning under their breaths! :-)

    - Coaches briefing. As mentioned by Crossref, all the festivals I've been to have had a general briefing but I would encourage you to find the other coaches in your age group and discuss the finer points of your age grade, too. If it's a regular match I will always have a chat with the coaches and players and reiterate the basics and what I'm looking for in particular areas. This is especially important at the start of a new season when new age grade rules (that have probably not been read!) come into play.

    I find reffing an immensely rewarding experience (despite the odd disgruntled parent/coach). I hope you go on to find that, too.
    Last edited by outcast; 1 Week Ago at 12:11.

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    ... forgot to add that it's also nice to have a chat with coaches at half-time and ask if there is anything you are missing that they've spotted. It kind of reminds them that you are human and only able to act on what you see. It also gives them the opportunity to ask questions and can help diffuse potential build up of frustration.

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    Rugby Club Member Flish's Avatar

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    Couple of people mentioned Festivals, assuming RFU land, you probably don't have to worry about many of these any more, certainly up in Durham County where I am they are gone (we were probationers for NROP so may have a head start), but my lot have never had a competitive fixture / festival, so all festivals are friendlies and refereed the same way, so that should make your life easier.

    The point about loud communication so you're overheard is a good one, most frustrations come from not understanding what you're seeing. Don't be afraid to use advantage signals, arm, voice, and secondary signals as well, it all helps.

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    Verity, welcome to the fraternity!

    I've read your post a couple of times and its not clear what age group you're refereeing. I guess its something like 15 years olds or lower.

    This comment gives me pause:
    to only really penalise deliberate foul play or dangerous play and to just tell the kids off and help them out with the rules at this stage
    While you certainly need to deal with dangerous play, you also need to deal with the bread & butter infringements too - offside, knock-ons, and the like. I'm wondering if you turned a blind eye to these in an attempt to keep a flowing game. If so, I can understand the coaches being a bit frustrated.

    But for all that, well done for taking the game on!
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    Rugby Club Member Flish's Avatar

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    Default Re: When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s

    Quote Originally Posted by Dickie E View Post
    Verity, welcome to the fraternity!

    I've read your post a couple of times and its not clear what age group you're refereeing. I guess its something like 15 years olds or lower.
    She's U10s (In the subject), and the current guidance for minis is actually to turn a blind eye (at times - and deciding when that time is is the challenge). In the U7 -> U12 NROP it opens with;

    1. Only infringements that affect the opposition’s play should besanctioned.




    Except a lot of parents and coaches expect what they see on the Telly

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