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View Full Version : [Law] When do you let things go and when do you penalise at U10s



Verity
13-11-17, 09:11
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?

Flish
13-11-17, 10:11
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!

damo
13-11-17, 10:11
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.

crossref
13-11-17, 10:11
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)

Rich_NL
13-11-17, 11:11
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.

outcast
13-11-17, 11:11
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.

outcast
13-11-17, 11:11
... 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.

Flish
13-11-17, 11:11
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.

Dickie E
13-11-17, 12:11
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!

Flish
13-11-17, 12:11
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;




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








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

Camquin
13-11-17, 12:11
Dickie, the clue is in the title Under 10s, I assume under RFU New Rules of Play

http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/MyRugbyAcademy/CourseResource/01/31/97/17/RFURegulation15Appendix4U102016-2017_English.pdf

In summary
8 a side on a small pitch, tackling, rucks and mauls limited to 2 a side, uncontested scrums. No line-puts and no kicking,
Free pass used for kick-off and restarts, penalties and touch.



Only infringements that affect the opposition’s play should be sanctioned.If there is no effect, advantage should be played wherever it is safe to do so.

Verity
13-11-17, 12:11
A huge thank you for your help and encouragement. I shall put 'develop thick skin' on my to do list'! I'm doing the England Rugby Ref Award in February- in Liverpool for some bizarre reason (we are in Malton, UK ) when the players are having fun it is such good fun and a chance to be involved in my boy's lives- they love it that their mum is a ref. Well, it can only get better, onwards and upwards and thank you all again. it's appreciated!- my husband thinks I'm a complete lunatic!- Dickie- it's under 10s. I'm good with knock-ons, off side, high tackles, especially at the neck. The particular incident was a child on his knees as it came out of the ruck knocked the ball with his hand into a child on the opposing side who caught it. So both knock on and player off his feet but as the opposition caught it I let it go. Both coaches got very cross but I was under the impression that it was in the defending teams interest? I was told that there is no advantage for player off his feet? it's not listed under 8.3 of things I cannot play advantage for? All very confusing.

Flish
13-11-17, 13:11
The particular incident was a child on his knees as it came out of the ruck knocked the ball with his hand into a child on the opposing side who caught it. So both knock on and player off his feet but as the opposition caught it I let it go. Both coaches got very cross but I was under the impression that it was in the defending teams interest? I was told that there is no advantage for player off his feet? it's not listed under 8.3 of things I cannot play advantage for? All very confusing.

For me, playing on their feet is quite an important one to be taught early, and one of those laws that gets inherited from the 15 aside game as not mentioned specifically in the NROP, so if someone is on their knees trying to play the ball I would probably be quite strict on that one and would penalise (and explain why, and what they should do instead) for a normal U10 game.

That said, sometimes we end up with a messy game of ping pong with knock ons everywhere so probably best then to stop, go with the first one and restart with a scrum, just to manage expectations (so the touchline don't think you've missed everything!), but in the whole scheme of things it doesn't really matter as long as you're fair. Just explain to them at next stoppage why you played on / stopped, the kids will be cool and they're what counts.

Lee Lifeson-Peart
13-11-17, 13:11
Verity

Welcome and well done on your first 1/2 a season or so.

I started (like a lot on here) refereeing my lad's junior team once a fortnight when we were at home. It was easier for me as I was a coach of the team and my fellow coaches and oppo coaches appreciated we were all in the same boat so were generally on side (plus I was exceptionally good :biggrin:).

What I never did when I started was to referee junior teams with which I had no association for the reasons you highlight in your post. A lot of these blokes think they're Eddie Jones (insert elite coach of your choice) and can be fixated on winning/their own child etc etc to the exclusion of fun, inclusion, development, the principles of the game and I'm sorry to say on occasions - safety.

Parents can be just as bad, if not worse. I joined the local referees Society on the back of a load of slavver I got from 3 harridans watching my lads U14/15s game (opposition of course) - they accused me of being very unprofessional!!! Anyway I bit and asked if there wasn't a cauldron that required stirring somewhere? My Macbeth based retort went right over their heads but by that time parents from my team had turned on them (verbally) so I left them to it - chuckling as I went. I thought later if I had a shirt with a white rose on it that may lend my efforts a bit more kudos.

I admire immensely those lads and lasses who having no connection to junior team will turn out on a Sunday to help boys and girls have a game of Rugby - well done them.

I think the replies above contain some good stuff and wouldn't necessarily offer any different advice as I don't referee much kids rugby at all - that said watch out for Where are you next weekend 2017/18????

Good luck, stick at it and ask as many questions as you feel you need answered.

You will soon find who is worth reading - I'm not one I hasten to add - especially with reference to junior rugby.

I've just noticed you're from God's Own Country so you'll have an innate ability to be a great referee. :pepper:

outcast
13-11-17, 14:11
I was told that there is no advantage for player off his feet? it's not listed under 8.3 of things I cannot play advantage for? All very confusing.

Unless there is a safety concern that prevents you from letting play continue I think playing advantage is exactly the right thing to do (and encouraged in the laws). Just make sure you indicate with your arm and tell the team loudly that you are playing advantage or the parents will never give you credit for having spotted the infringement! ;-)

Not heard about "no advantage for player off his feet" but usually the player off his feet isn't giving the ball to the opposition so you wouldn't get the opportunity to play advantage anyway.

crossref
13-11-17, 15:11
). Just make sure you indicate with your arm and tell the team loudly that you are playing advantage or the parents will never give you credit for having spotted the infringement! ;-)


that's really important advice and often neglected by very new refs --- signals and loud calls are SO important for keeping the touchline happy. If they know that you did see the incident, and made a decision then you are half way there already. Even if they disagree with the decision. If the referee is mute (so far as they can tell) they get frustrated.

Similarly with any tackle that is marginal, a loud yell of 'play on, nothing in it' reassures the touchline. If you say nothing they can be anxious.

didds
13-11-17, 15:11
All the above - with one exception. Unless your unions' regs permit it do not penalise the players for their coaches' actions. You can't do it.

Didds

Lee Lifeson-Peart
13-11-17, 15:11
All the above - with one exception. Unless your unions' regs permit it do not penalise the players for their coaches' actions. You can't do it.

Didds

Luckily for you. :)

didds
13-11-17, 15:11
Nope.

Pinky
13-11-17, 16:11
Verity, welcome to the forum. Some good advice above. The one thing I would add is to remember to praise good play too, don't just be all negative. In Scotland at age grade the "referee" is called the "game coach" and have a key role in coaching the players to get a better game. Specifically they are reminded to praise good play, getting back on side, proper joining a ruck, good lineout skills (when relevant). Occasionally you will hear the top refs do this. During the Wales Aus game the ref at one point said "well done 7" when they quickly rolled away from the breakdown and stayed down so as not to interfere in play. The players will appreciate a bit of praise from you from time to time but the sidelines may not realise what you are actually trying to do

Dan_A
13-11-17, 16:11
Great advice above. I would stress that you absolutely do NOT have to take abuse from coaches and parents. If you are getting serious flack, stop the game, go to the coach of the offending side and explain, politely but firmly, that you do not appreciate the verbals and that if it continues you will end the game. The one and only time I did this I actually had other adults from the offending team thank me for taking a stand.

Pinky
13-11-17, 17:11
Great advice above. I would stress that you absolutely do NOT have to take abuse from coaches and parents. If you are getting serious flack, stop the game, go to the coach of the offending side and explain, politely but firmly, that you do not appreciate the verbals and that if it continues you will end the game. The one and only time I did this I actually had other adults from the offending team thank me for taking a stand.

Ask them if they think they are setting a good example to the youngsters - or tell them that they are not - your choice.

Dan_A
13-11-17, 17:11
Actually, I just noticed something in the latest u10 rules.

The New Rules of Play (http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/Governance/Regulations/01/30/34/89/RFU_Regulation_15_appdx_1_new_under_10_rules_of_pl ay_Neutral.pdf) for u10 previously had rule 1b:-"Only infringements that affect the opposition’s play should be sanctioned."

The latest transitional contact (http://www.englandrugby.com/mm/Document/MyRugbyAcademy/CourseResource/01/31/97/17/RFURegulation15Appendix4U102016-2017_English.pdf) for u10 rules (effective from 1st Aug 2017) have extended this:-
"Only infringements that affect the opposition’s play should be sanctioned. If there is no effect, advantage should be played wherever it is safe to do so”.

There's a big difference between the former (i.e. ignore immaterial infringements) and the later (i.e. don't blow immediately for immaterial infringements, play advantage wherever possible)

Or am I reading more into this than was intended.

Flish
13-11-17, 18:11
There's a big difference between the former (i.e. ignore immaterial infringements) and the later (i.e. don't blow immediately for immaterial infringements, play advantage wherever possible)

Hmm, I'd like to think that if there was anything significant in that it would have been communicated, certainly I attend all our county Age Grade Committee meetings on behalf of my club, and whilst I may nod off on occasion am fairly certain that there's been no mention of this, or in fact that there were 2017 revisions at all!

I don't think this really makes any difference to how you would approach the game though, you're still being encouraged to not blow the whistle and play on. Of course you always have the option to Combe back

Phil E
14-11-17, 12:11
Great advice above. I would stress that you absolutely do NOT have to take abuse from coaches and parents. If you are getting serious flack, stop the game, go to the coach of the offending side and explain, politely but firmly, that you do not appreciate the verbals and that if it continues you will end the game. The one and only time I did this I actually had other adults from the offending team thank me for taking a stand.

Completely agree with Dan.

I had an U12 game on Sunday and the away team coach was shouting at every decision.

After 10 minutes I stopped the game, called time off, and loudly asked him if he could come for a word please. I made sure he came to me onto the pitch (so in my playground and away from any of his cohorts).

I then simply asked him where in the Core Values it stated he could shout at the referee and dissent my decision.

I then pointed out that a couple of his players had been appealing for decisions, and they had clearly learnt this from him, so could he set a better example to his players please?

The key is to point out how their actions are affecting the way their players react. I wouldn't put up with this on a Saturday League game, and I certainly wont put up with it on a Sunday morning. A lot of coaches and parents are shocked if you do this on a Sunday morning as they somehow get used to it...don't let them.

outcast
14-11-17, 14:11
I had an U12 game on Sunday and the away team coach was shouting at every decision.

After 10 minutes I stopped the game, called time off, and loudly asked him if he could come for a word please. I made sure he came to me onto the pitch (so in my playground and away from any of his cohorts).


That is great advice. I had exactly the same situation with a U10s coach a couple of seasons ago. I handled it in a similar way but I walked over to him... I much prefer your approach of getting him to come to you.

OB..
14-11-17, 17:11
I was watching an U13 away game recently which was being refereed by a youngster getting some refereeing experience as part of his college course. The away team kept telling him things, and the coaches kept shouting advice. I politely suggested this was not a good idea, and they explained that it had been agreed with the referee beforehand, since he was still learning. I pointed out that the other team (my grandson's, who won easily) were being disadvantaged, and it wasn't actually helping him, since he had to learn to make up his own mind (even if wrong) and sell the decision. I also said he was doing quite well.

Fortunately I was wearing an anorak with "RFU Community Rugby" on it, so they didn't really argue, and I did not press the point, but things did quieten down.

Dickie E
15-11-17, 05:11
My moon-walking bear - how did I not see U10 in the title???

Here's another bit of wisdom:

when we learn to ride a bike we start off with a bicycle then, if we are very confident & proficient, move onto the more challenging unicycle.

Refereeing rugby is the opposite. We start off with the very challenging little kids then, when we get better & more experienced, move onto the more structured older people.

So it does get easier ... stick with it!

Christy
15-11-17, 10:11
hi verity .
reffing minis is very hard { ex specially u 10 }
i assure you reffing full size pitch at youth starting at u 13 is much easier .

next time a loud mouth gobby , know all coach {{ although a good coach wouldn't do it }} gives u grief
go over & either nut him or give him a right good kick in the bollocks .

i guarantee he wont do it again . { and nobody in crowd would mind }

also . report it to your society .
any club who gets appointed refs for mini festivals need to be told from your society .
it is their responsibility that all visiting teams are briefed properly & that parent or coach conduct has to be of a friendly good natured spirit only .

stick with the reffing . { you took the job because your ambitious & you clearly have a lot to give / learn }
dont kid your self , you did it because no body else would .
it takes guts & hard work ,,if you didnt have either ,,you wouldn't of took the leap

my advice would be dont watch telly rugby for tips { its a much faster game played by professional players }
do watch local matches in your club that are reffed by society refs .
there is some great college rugby on tv .. which is better telly rugby to learn from

know the laws about how a game restart .
a lot of penaltys & free kicks etc in line outs { never occur }

i use to pick 1 item a week
maybe scrum or line out or penalty's .
& i would read up on same .

dont try & take it all in at once .
its too much .

hope to see you in twickenham { as the girl in the middle } reffing an international some day soon .
the guy in stand with a limp & odd shape nose is the clown u nutted years ago . at an u 10 festival .