Christmas Comes Early for Referees

The Navy Referees Society has caught up with the digital age and has taken delivery of their first communications set. Many ardent rugby follows will be used to seeing match officials with ear pieces in. The push to talk radio system allows two way communications between the referee, his two touch judges and the reserve official. However the RNRURS have also included an open mike system with the package. The open mike allows the referee coach or adviser to hear all of the dialogue between referee and players. This system can also be paired with a video so that the resultant recording has the referee's voice over in sync with the picture. Commenting on the equipment Paul Burton, the Society's Training and Development Officer said “The Society has held back from purchasing the equipment until now for two main reasons, one was cost and the second was a belief that the referee needed to fully learn and master the basic skills of officiating before becoming too reliant on assistance from Touch Judges. However with the cost of the equipment reducing and through the ongoing generous support of our sponsor Akhter Computers the price problem is no longer an obstacle. Furthermore it is the intention to limit the use of the equipment to the more experienced referees as part of their development in working as part of a team. However the most exciting development is the open mike system. So much of the art of refereeing is about communication and player management, I believe that the open mike will be able to give me or the referee's coach a real insight into the style and content of the referee's interaction with the player on the pitch and advise accordingly. You would be amazed at how often what seem like harsh calls by a referee have been preceded by at least one warning, if not two, to an individual player who has chosen to ignore the request and of course ends up being penalised.” Outgoing Chairman of Referees, Geraint Ashton Jones, commented. “The open mike system is, in my opinion, by far the greatest aid to referee development in recent times, probably since the regular filming of matches. I have been fortunate to use it on both televised matches and also when just linked to my match adviser, what it gives is far greater context to the development advice and, in the case of TV, has given the opportunity for commentators to make more informed comment. It does not surprise me that coaches of the calibre of Dean Richards (NEC Harlequins) have commented how valuable being able to always hear the referee's voice would be to him in terms of the coaching of his players. Hopefully the Society will be able, over time, to increase its number of open mike systems which will accelerate the training of our referees, particularly in the vital area of game management. This in turn should please the players amongst the Navy' clubs because they should benefit from better officiating.”