Navy Blues at Newbury
Rich Whelan, backrow, second from the left, won his Navy Refereeing colours on Wednesday night when he ran touch at the RAF v Army 1st XV match. Rich's appointment to the game was well deserved following a very successful season with both his civilian society of Yorkshire and with the Navy. This season he has shown the potential to make the North's Development Panel from which the National Referee candidates are chosen. Commenting on the appointment Society Development Officer Paul Burton said: "Awarding of Society's 'colours' is the refereeing equivalent of being capped. The Society quite rightly applies a high quality standard before making such appointments and we were delighted to nominate Rich this year and hope that next season he will be accepting a number of Group appointments." Blues of an entirely different kind were felt by Referee Society Chairman Stew Kilby. Twenty minutes into refereeing the RAF Women against their Army counterparts a ruptured left calf muscle forced him to retire and be replaced by Stu Clarke. Comments from fellow referees on the touchline that they hadn't noticed any change in pace following the rupture were deemed scurrilous by the Chairman who hopes to return to active refereeing before too long, a view not necessarily shared by the RAF Physio when she commented that soft tissue injuries do take far longer to heal in the elderly! Rising above the scuttlebutt Stew did make the following comment: "My own injury aside the day has again shown the Society in its best light. PABs (Paul Burton) handled, at times, a feisty encounter between the two veterans' teams with the right mix of firmness and humour. Similarly Stu Clarke moved seamlessly from TJ to referee the last sixty minutes of my match. This game produced some excellent rugby before both teams fell away a little due to tiredness. Finally the main game was well managed by Geraint (Ashton Jones), supported by Tim (Bailey) and Rich. What is most pleasing to report is that with each of the games played all the comment was about the players and the game and not the officials. I believe that is entirely due to the professionalism and ability shown by the nine Navy referees on the day."