National Development Summit (NDS) 2018 – Denver, Colorado.

Andre NametagSo the USA Rugby National Development Summit (NDS) 2018 is over, some AWESOME new ideas and valuable inspirational stories and suggestions shared. It is always so inspiring to have 400+ people in one area all so eager to help each other and share their secrets of success. It really helps one remember that no matter if you are a player, coach, referee, or administrator everyone really wants the same thing: enjoyment and success. As always, old relationships rejuvenated and new ones formed; every year the rugby family just keeps growing. 🙂

Through all the development opportunities offered at NDS, all the presentations, inspirational talks and networking opportunities, it’s hard to leave NDS not encouraged, inspired, and enthused to tackle the tasks that lie ahead. We listened to our new men’s national team coach speak, received presentations by high performance referee managers, and heard inspirational personal stories from dynamic players who have come back from catastrophic injuries only to face the arch enemy of cancer. Jillian Potter told us about doing laps around the hospital, still attached to the IV pole and undergoing chemotherapy, all with a vision that ultimately led to her not only competing in the Women’s World Cup but also representing our proud country at the Rio Olympics. The rugby world is discovering new technologies that are without a doubt going to help drive our society forward in doing a better job for all stakeholders. From better more efficient scheduling software to accounting systems to referee personal developmental aids like solo-shot…change is in the air. It’s a super exciting time to be an Ohio Referee! I do understand people don’t like change and as human beings (yes even referees are human), we generally resist change. If we don’t act, either out of fear of failure or fear of what the changes may bring, then we are going to simply stagnate. Rather, let’s face change as a challenge, grab it with both hands and embrace it…change is coming!  🙂

Short term goals for this year are going to change the way we run Annual General Meetings (AGMs). Instead of the ordinary, let’s have an annual Ohio Rugby Summit, with interactive developmental opportunities and vibrant guest speakers that will give us tools we can really use out there in the war zone. I am inspired to develop a new referee training program in Ohio – one that will be more impactful and dynamic than the one most of us “sat” through. With the support of our USA Rugby Educators and alongside our now very established Rookie Rugby program, we have an untapped resource and entry point for newer, younger referees. Fear not old guys, nothing replaces the experience we all bring, but sitting at NDS and listening to a 12 year old new up-and-coming referee talk of their experiences, it’s hard not to be moved and inspired. Look around, we have many of these great resources around us here in Ohio, we are just not maximizing their potential… change is coming! 🙂

The ideas of using technology and software to help us do better, more efficient work is promising. One person can’t do everything alone. We are going to need to come together to help grow and improve the Ohio Rugby Referee Society. We all have a choice: sit in the dark and complain about why things are and how we wish they were, or step up and volunteer to help drive the change you wish to see. The big message is that in order to grow and develop, the self-reflection piece is vital. No CMO or peer mentor or any other fancy word or phrase is more important that the internal desire. Forming stronger, supportive relationships with other fellow, like-minded referees is an under-utilized, yet immensely powerful developmental tool which we need to exploit this year. Through the use of tools like Google Classroom we can provide law discussions and challenging, thought-stimulating ventures. I have heard the cry, “why should I bother working to be a better me? Why should I bother with referee development? It’s not like I get paid more!” Like I said… change is coming :). In the real world, if you invest in yourself (like getting a degree…a Master’s… a Phd), yes, it costs you the more you want to develop yourself, but then the financial return is also more. It’s time that these practices get mirrored in our rugby society too. If we truly are a professional organization, then it’s time to act like one…all of us, referees, coaches, administrators… change is coming. 🙂

Hey, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter!

– Andre Bruwer, Ohio Rugby Referees Society CMO

One thought on “National Development Summit (NDS) 2018 – Denver, Colorado.”

  1. Thanks for all your efforts in raising the Rugby referee IQ for the sake of , of course, champagne Rugby. Always a joy to watch and participate on the field! Cheers


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