Wednesday the 26th September saw the annual gathering of the Society at RNAS YEOVILTON.  This doubled up as our Annual General Meeting (AGM) and training day. 

At the AGM the Chairman thanked Tim Bailey, the holder of just about every position in the Society over the last 10 years, for his considerable efforts in keeping the Society going.  A few minor amendments were made to our constitution, to allow Committee Members to hold their position for an open period and not the statutory 3 years it has been up to this point.  RNRURS Chairman Andy Coles, asked Luke Pearce to present Tim with an award to thank him for his hard work and dedication to the society. 

Luke also presented Steve Overvoorde with the Trophy of Newcomer of the Year.  Since completing ELRA in 2010 Steve has completed over 25 appointments in Area 3 and achieved L12 grading despite not being a member of a civilian society.  He capped a successful season by being selected as 4th official at the Army v RAF Women's Inter Services fixture. 

The Referee of the Year went to Ian Seaton.  Ian had a very successful season with both the RNRURS and Devon proving to be a consistent and high performing L7 referee with a good empathy for the game and the player's needs.  His season was capped by refereeing the Inter Command Final and the Women's Inter Service Match between the Army and the RAF.  Sadly work commitments meant Ian was unable to attend to receive his award.

Andy Coles also presented Luke with an engraved RNRU Thunder whistle which we hope will see action in the premiership this season.


With the formal part of the day done it was time to move on to the training element of the day.  This began with a review and discussion of the new laws (for more details see ).  Whilst these are in the main fairly straight forward it is worth studying them to ensure that you are aware of what changes have been made.  This is particularly prevalent at the lineout as we have to be much more aware of the options available and also what can happen once the ball is in touch.

Following on from the success of having RFU premiership referee Andrew Small talk to us last year, this year we were delighted to have the newest premiership referee, Luke Pearce.  Luke, an ‘appallingly young referee' (The Independent), had the whole room riveted with his candid and pragmatic discussion of the breakdown area.  We all learnt a considerable amount and came away with a number of pointers to help us referee our own game at whatever level that may be.

After lunch Tim Bailey presented a session on Foul Play, which as always created a large amount of debate, but it was pleasing to see that the general consensus was correct in most scenarios and that the discussion was actually over wider issues!  It was good to see that some RNRU coaches were in attendance and very much involved in this discussion.

Throughout the day Simon Aldridge gave us all an impossibly difficult quiz with some of the most obscure rugby questions you could ever come across.  No-one scored above 50% over the course of the day but thanks anyway Simon!

To close the day we were privileged to have Paul Bridgeman Elite, and until very recently, an IRB Advisor, who talked to us about what he believes the qualities of a good referee are.  In his very open and honest presentation he distilled the qualities required down to the following;

  • Positioning - Getting yourself in the right position at the right time. ONLY by doing this can you make the right decision.
  • Pace - Credibility comes from positioning above. ONLY by having pace (appropriate to your level) can you achieve the right position.
  • Reading the game - In order to apply the laws you need to understand what the players are trying to achieve and have the ability to read the game.
  • Defusing Difficult Situations - Regardless of how good you are at reading the game flare ups will happen. In order to retain credibility with the players you must have the skills to deal with these occasions.

All are certainly things to think about, to take onboard and implement into our own games.

With the day concluded it was time to disperse to all four corners of the country again, to spread the word about rugby in general and the Society specifically.  With our numbers on the decline and our average age rising each year it is vital to the sustainability of Navy Refereeing that we recruit younger referees. 

We all know of players who have had to give up the game and it is these people that we need to be targeting and getting on the ELRAs run by Gaz Fairburn.  We do not want to find ourselves in the position that we are unable to fulfill our Inter-Service commitments.

As always the committee remain available for advice and guidance throughout the season or just that sympathetic ear after a bad game whether mid-week or at the weekend.