Beginning a Blog with a Year in Review

A BIG thank you to all our referees who helped make the Fall 2017 Rugby Season the success it was. You conducted yourselves in the professional manner that is expected of referees. Whether you were center stage or assistant refereeing, you made the season happen…THANK YOU.

One of the highlights of the May 2017 high school championship for me was when a volunteer asked if they could help and I was able to reply, “sorry we not only have all those assignments covered, but you have to be qualified referee with game experience to wear those shoes.” That is only because of the sheer number of you who were willing to step up and volunteer to be part of the high school state championship, so again, thank you, you made us all look good. 🙂

This year (2017), in partnership with RugbyOhio, we offered four interactive webinars to provide a forum for education, discussion, and consistency to Ohio Rugby Referees. You can watch them by clicking on the links below:

Developmental Pathways For Referees

New Law Trials 101

Identifying and Managing Flash Points

Another interesting point of conversation that earmarked a turning point in our society’s ongoing effort to improve coach-referee relationships was our first ever open forum between a selected panel of referees (the CMO team) and any/all coaches in Ohio that wanted to be part of the conversation. Some had things they wanted to say, others had questions, and some were simply seeking clarification. The webinar was hugely successful and the cry has been to offer more on a more regular basis when the Spring season starts up in 2018. If you missed that webinar, click the link below for the recording.

Referee-Coach discussion

As a society, we’ve committed to stepping up our game. In this regard we have started to put muscle behind our Coaching Match Officials (CMO) program.  Beginning with the State Semi-Championships, CMOs working together with referees, observed, reviewed, evaluated, and provided valuable feedback for many of our officials. We even hosted a USA Rugby CMO training course in October to not only develop our current pool of CMOs but also to add to it. As always, any referee interested in improving need only shoot me an email and I will ensure it ends up on the correct person’s table. Linking CMOs with referees (at all levels) that are eager improve their game is going to be key moving forward.

Another proud moment for Ohio Referees from 2017 is that a few referees received National assignments, some center field (Mr. Z.Huston and myself) and others as Assistant Referees (ARs) for National Panel Referees as a part of the National Championship Series. Those referees are: Nick Geary; Chris Harrington; Bill Matijasic; Bouke Ankone; Bill Strobl; Michael Hong; Frank Harris; Nate Myers, and Duane Schrader. Well done gang, you did us proud! 🙂

Comments from those who served as Assistant Referees were how much they learned from being mic’ed in and hearing how the center referees (many B-panel and National Panel referees) managed their games and established rapport with the players. If you want to learn and want to get better, never pass on these opportunities if possible, whenever they come across your table.

Looking forward into 2018 and beyond, you should see more topics of discussion concerning laws and clarifications, bringing about higher and more consistent standards of refereeing. I also believe opening these communications with coaches and possibly even captains would go a long way to helping promote this game and at the same time bring about a clearer understanding of expectations from all stakeholders.

Our society president Mr. Billy Koval will be looking to hold our society’s Annual General Meeting (AGM), sometime after the Midwest Referee Society’s meeting. We are hoping to offer an online component to the AGM this time around so more of you can actually be part of the process. It is important for you to be part of this AGM as we are looking to implement some changes that are going to hopefully drive us forward. These changes will undoubtedly affect YOU, so if you want your voice heard, then you are definitely going to want to be part of the 2018 AGM….stay tuned for more on that.

The National Development Summit is set for January! It’s a great opportunity to network and learn. There are several presentations and discussions in all areas of rugby from refereeing to coaching, administration, and more. Drop us a line or look for us if you attend. It would be great to get together with an Ohio crowd, have some beers, and talk shop.

Lastly, we will have an Ohio Referee presence at the Las Vegas Rugby Invitational 2018 in March. Those that attend are in for an intense four days of hard work, advanced learning, great rugby, and maybe a little fun on the strip. There’s still time to join us – register here.

In closing, a big thank you for doing what you do. Great work this year. Thank you for everyone for stepping up and picking up the slack. Many of you did double duty and it was great working with a team that had your back, making us all look good. I look forward to working with you in person, on the pitch, over webinars, and through this blog. Thank you to Referee Reneé Whitenberger who has volunteered to drag our society into the social media limelight of the 21st century… starting with this blog.

Let’s make 2018 even better, with more of you actually picking up the whistle and doing some games (look for an email from our Referee Manager, Mr. Bugs Moran when he starts asking everyone to input their availability…if you need help, just shoot me an email. We need everyone…like really everyone. We have more games on any given weekend than we have active referees and it’s always hard having to tell a team, sorry no referee. We – YOU – do make a difference.

Thanks again for what you do for this great game we all call Rugby 🙂

– Andre Bruwer, Ohio Rugby Referees Society CMO