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Thread: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

      
  1. #1
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    Default 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    Would like some input on a disciplinary issue that I faced recently.

    U-19 game in the USA - green versus black, both experienced sides for their level. First, half goes off well good if not a bit scrappy play - a yellow card to green for repeat offense high tackle. Quick word with captains at half and all is in good order.

    5 mins in to the second half, I award a penalty for green as black did not roll away. First time black infringed in this manner and I am going to set a reminder of the standard that I want through firm vocalization at the penalty. Green player (not captain) approaches and says various horrid things to me including "I don't give a (expletive deleted) what you think." Out comes my red card and I reverse the penalty on the spot. Spectators go nuts with shouts for my head. I state to the captain that the actions will not be tolerated on the pitch. Captain gives a sheepish look and "yes sir".

    10 mins later, I a small tussle starts and I quickly whistle it down. I state to black and green players this will not be tolerated and the black player sheepishly goes back to his team. Green player starts to argue with his captain and me. Captain quiets him and I state that we're going to play on - and I expect him to keep things clean. 3 mins later same player starts to pick a fight with black off the ball (cat calling, shoving, etc.). I whistle it dead thinking we're going to have a penalty at the worse . Green player says clearly to me, "Why should I listen to what you have to say, you're just going to (expletive deleted) send me off." Green captain gives me a hopeless look, I hear blue captain say to his team "Blue, we keep our discipline!", and without hesitation, I go to my pocket for a second red card. Green spectators now are sharpening knives demanding the ref be "kicked off the field".

    Something must have clicked because no further outburst happened from green. Green kept their composure and almost won it.

    Thoughts? Right call or wrong? First time, I've red carded for behavior (have done for tip tackles).

  2. #2

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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    From the way this is written they would have got the same punishment from me

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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    From the description of the Red Cards - no problem with those.

    I always suggest with any "ref abuse" Red Card, that you take a long look at the game. Was there anything else (big or small) that got the Green team so wound up. Were you missing some off the ball stuff? Not getting the management of the players right? Was your tone, or wording not "correct" for the situation? Could you have calmed it down before the incident?

    This is particularly in relation to the first one. Was your "firm" vocalisation of the Penalty also directed at Green, when they had not infringed? Did you take the time to do this, and so prevent a quick tap? Why did the Green player approach you? Or feel the need to say anything?

    An example: I had awarded a try, despite Blue protest. One Blue player was particularly vocal, so I called him and the Captain over to calm them down. No realising my scorecard (and so cards) were still in my hand from writing the score down. He said to me "go on Yellow card me, why not red card me, go on. You can F@*k off" before I said a word, so I Red Carded him. After this the game decended into a mess, with Blue out of control. In hindsight, I should have let the conversion happen, blown time off, and then had a word. Or something similar, but I should have ensured my cards were in my pocket. I should have bought the time necessary for everyone to calm down. So was I right to card him - yes. BUT could I have prevented it happening - YES. And that would have prevented the remaining minutes of the game being so bad.

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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    Ive refereed in an area where the F word is routinely used by all players , coaches and most spectators / children !

    In such a case you have no option but to ditch a zero tolerance approach otherwise it would end up 1 aside.

    Only you know the "linguistic flavour" of the participants , and bearing in mind the discipline is high on my expectation list especially at u19 nevertheless it does sound like the 2nd RC player was swearing at the situation not at you directly, so maybe 10 mins would have cooled him sufficiently.

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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    Quote Originally Posted by Browner View Post
    it does sound like the 2nd RC player was swearing at the situation not at you directly, so maybe 10 mins would have cooled him sufficiently.
    Green player says clearly to me, "Why should I listen to what you have to say, you're just going to (expletive deleted) send me off."

    I'd be happy to make good the green player's self-fulfilling prophesy under such circumstances.

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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    spforrest3, it's great to welcome you to these forums. I hope and expect you'll find here a tolerant community of like-minded individuals (and Browner) who will share their experience with you and offer you the support that is often unavailable to the referee on the day of the match. I doubt there is anything that can happen on a pitch that someone here hasn't experienced and analysed.

    Flipflop's post contains a lot of useful stuff, but he's adopted a shorthand notation in his response that regular contributors would recognise, but which may seem odd to you. Allow me to unpick it a bit.

    Firstly, given what was said to you, your actions were spot on the money. Green team lost its composure, and decided to take its frustrations out on the ref. Whether or not the ref did anything to warrant that is completely irrelevant. Green challenged your authority, you dealt with it appropriately. Well done. More of the same whenever you encounter such behaviour, please.

    That leads us to Flipflop's point. Is there anything that you can draw from the experience that will reduce the risk of you having to deal perfectly properly with such flare-ups again? Certainly, your post doesn't mention any - but if you are like the rest of us, you will have felt deflated by the experience and will have questioned your own handling of the game to see whether there was anything you did or didn't do that could have contributed to Green's ill-feeling. Also for many of us, that sort of unpleasant experience on a weekend when we are giving our time for the benefit of the players makes us question whether we might not prefer to be spending the time with our children rather than with a group of unruly and ungrateful yound adults.

    In my experience, the sort of loss of discipline you describe often affects a team when a series of small, perhaps unrelated decisions have gone against them, and they feel slighted by the accrual of relatively trivial sanctions against them. Other reasons are when a team arrives expecting a walk in the park, and the oppo turn out to be better than anyone expected adn an upset is on the cards. Your management of these scenarios will be different.

    In the first, you may well be unaware that Green is starting to feel aggrieved until one of their players dissents. By then, the damage has been done - so how on Earth can you manage a hidden situation? That's a real poser, and one that you'll need a different perspective than your own to address. If you are due an assessment from your Society, then ask the assessor to listen into your verbal interaction with the players - are you coming over as empathetic or as domineering? Explaining of hectoring? Authoritarian or in effortless control? If (as is usually the case in the US) you have no realistic expectation of an imminent assessment, see if you and a friend can't find some way to allow you to listen to (and ideally view on video) your management of a game to see yourself as others see you. What you are aiming for is to project an image of someone who proactively explains potentially controversial decisions without being asked, and in a way that doesn't invite discussion. The very best refs (top of the international standard) manage to deflect suggestions of an alternative interpretation of events without getting argumentative - "that wasn't how I saw it", "looked good to me", "clearly backwards out of his hands even though traveling forward over the ground" are all possible non-aggressive responses to suggestions of error, where lesser refs (most of us on here included) might be tempted to escalate to sanctions for dissent.

    As to how to manage when a team is getting an unexpectedly hard time from the opposition, much of that is down to research before the game. Are the sides close in the league table? if they are at opposite ends, you can expect a different game as a ref than if they are tight together and need to win an epic encounter. Many will argue against such research, saying that you shoudl ref without preconceptions. For me, the benefits outweigh the risks. You'll be more alert to the potential for frustration as lowly Blue outplay well-placed Green, in which case you will be alive to the possibility of Green pushing boundaries. When they don't get away with it (because you are reffing the game in front of you, rather than what you expected), you can then enlist the help fo Green captain to impose discipline on his team, and you can escalate as required. It'd be nice if this always worked - but it doesn't, and sometimes you end up with a card-strewn mess. In such cases, if you can point to strong and timely communication with the captain, plus stepped escalation as Green decline to get a grip, you put the monkey firmly on their shoulders instead of carrying it on yours.

    Sorry to have rambled on - keep up the good work
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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    Went to a talk by Wayne Barnes a few weeks ago, entitled "Pouring petrol on the Fire...?" Basically the point was that sometimes we, as referees, actually exacerbate potentially explosive situations by the way we deal with it or speak to players. Really good presentation by WB and very though provoking.
    The very next weekend I'm reffing a level 8 second team game. Very competitive and good rugby being played. Home side (White) started strongly and were at least two scores ahead but then away side (black) begin to claw their way back. White LH prop starts to get frustrated and I can see the tension rising in him. A couple times he disagrees with decisions, a bit of arm-waving and, "Oh ref," and I've had a quick word with him on the way to the next breakdown, but unfortunately this has fallen on deaf ears and the tension is still there.

    Black then make a break to with 5m of try-line, white LH doesn't release, doesn't roll away and then starts to play the ball on ground. Whistle, penalty against 1 white. I then call time off. White LH then starts to walk behind the posts, saying, " I know what's coming I'm off." Before WB's talk, I may well have called him back, called the captain over, explained what I had seen etc, etc. Meanwhile he is standing there getting angrier and angrier.

    However the wise words of WB came back to me, so I let him walk off spoke to white captain, explained that he'd been YC, and then we got on with the game. 10 mins later white LH is back on the pitch and much calmer for it, even thanked me after the game.!

    Moral of the story as per the talk, don't pour fuel on the fire.

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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    I'd be interested in knowing how you managed the interaction with the captain at the cards, especially the first one.

    I've done some U19 games over here, and actively try to avoid them. Discipline can be a major issue - and I suspect the fact that you got the sideline reaction that you did from the spectators meant that the players are getting their behavioral standards set inappropriately by those around them.

    Whenever I've had that kind of an issue, I've refereed very tightly for the next 10 minutes. Absolutely killed my self to be first to the tackle, and blowing things up quickly if the ball isn't going to be available; making it a very short 5 seconds if a maul is held up; making my mind up very quickly about advantage. All the time, explaining to the players what I want - "the ball needs to be available quicker if you want me to keep it going". Messages that are designed to get them focused on the game and on technique, rather than on me or the opposition. That can really help reduce tensions.

    And above all, show calm and smile. I was told very early on when I was doing a lot of Colts matches (looking at you Mike Whittaker) that if the players sense tension or anger in you, it can infect them and their attitude - they'll feed off it.
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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    Thanks for all the replies (and I realized this was my first post - I read so much I forgot that!). After reading these, I figured out this is what I actually needed - not just a "did I do this right" but "how can I do this better".

    I think there are a few things that exacerbated the problems - some of them mine, some of them situational:

    1) American youth rugby culture is steeped in American youth sport culture where arguing with everything is OK. I try to manage this the best I can by explaining not just why but how. SimonSmith - answering your interest - whenever I give a repeat offense yellow, I always (as I did in this one) say to the captain and player "This is not about what happened at this particular incident, but rather the accumulation of what your team has done. (To the player) You are bearing the brunt of a team penalty." I almost always get a nod from the player of resigned understanding. And you are dead on - smiling (when I remember to) makes a ton of difference.

    2) Upon reflection, I was dealing with very weak green captain who plays well but is not a team leader. While I went through him with communication, I think part of the reason that Black kept their discipline was their captain who demanded it of his players. (In one case during the game the black captain asked me at a scrum for 10 seconds to talk with his back line where upon I heard him say that he was tired of hearing about how the forwards were loosing scrums and the ref kept awarding scrums for knock ons - if they didn't like the situation, they needed to fix it not complain about it.) Green captain communicated with his team but never asked them to really rise to the occasion.

    3) Further to Dixie's point, Green thought they were "destined" (their words not mine), to win the game. Black came in and played smart. My favorite, and challenging from a 15s point of view, was their decision not to ruck, ala 7s, and loiter in the green back line across the field because they knew the green half backs didn't read the field. Green took this as an offside - I tried to manage this by loudly saying "No ruck, black onside", but I am sure some did not hear/understand. When green finally started to play, they were more than equal to the task, but the damage was done at that point.

    4)Flipflop/Dixie's thoughts on better management are very appropriate. I knew that the minute the first kid used flowery language, I something was not right. I had been working on trying to more proactive communication for the past few matches and in light of that I will be trying to incorporate some of the examples that Dixie talked about. A senior referee who was my TJ said the game and situations were handled well but was unable to give suggestions as to ways to improve the handling. From what others (including colsey and ianh5979) have said, I think the immediate situation was good - but you all are now reinforcing my want to figure out how to try to prevent this.

    John3822 - I really liked your example and its one that I'm going to incorporate. Contrary to what we are taught in the local ref society but would make a ton of difference.

  10. #10

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    Default Re: 2 Reds and one very upset set of spectators

    I try to manage this the best I can by explaining not just why but how.

    Why explain interpretation? The players will never agree when it goes against them. The sequence for an offense is Whistle-Signal-Talk. Practice this. It fixes a lot. The whistle first leads to many quick taps. The offenders can't complain when they have to play defense right away. A strong secondary signal helps everyone understand what was called. Coaches may not agree, but they will know what was called. Talk should be minimal. "Blue 6 Off-side" is enough. The FIRST person that questions you gets pinged for dissent. No warnings. Finally, a strong whistle and signals give a perception that you know what you are doing.
    When dealing with captains, be very specific. Don't say- "get the tackle fixed." Say- "tell your forwards to remain on their feet when they join a ruck." Most of the U-19 players don't have enough experience to figure out what they are doing incorrectly.
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