The Word From ‘The Man in the Van’

The Navy Referees training day, to be held next week at RNAS Yeovilton, will include a session from the RFU’s newest Television Match Official, Keith Lewis. Navy followers last saw Keith when he officiated the annual International Babcock Challenge between the Royal Navy and Marine Nationale. The match, which included the issuing of both red and yellow cards, was one where he might well have wished to have had the opportunity to refer an incident to a TMO. This season is the second year that the RFU have been trialling the extended use of video to help the referee in the middle. The TMO trial also includes some matches in the Championship and the weekend before the training day Plymouth Albion are the televised game in the opening round. Keith is the TMO. Fortunately Albion’s Navy hooker, Gaz Evans, is a far more mellow character these days and hopefully will not have to endure trial by replay. The TMO trial is now global and no doubt some of Keith’s deliberations will come under microscopic scrutiny both formally and in the various chat forums across the web. A pressure that can be equal to that experienced by referees in 'the middle'. His insights will provide valuable lessons to the Navy Referees not only on the requirements, at the highest levels of the game, but also the opportunities that exist.

If Navy Referees require any encouragement as to the chances open to them they need only to have tuned in to BT Sports rugby coverage of the opening round of the Aviva Premiership. Navy man Paul Burton was Assistant Referee in the first match of the Twickenham double header, where Premiership favourites Saracens defeated London Irish 42-20. Away from the cameras another Navy Referee, Roger Baileff, was the assistant at Northampton Saint’s 38 -11 victory over the Exeter Chiefs. Other routes to Twickenham are also open to the society’s referees. Though often missed by those enjoying the West Car Park reunion the Army Navy match also includes a full community programme, which culminates on the stadium pitch. All the matches are officiated by Service Referees.

The training day has a packed programme of events that will include the latest guidance from the IRB and RFU on the new scrummage engagement sequence as well as the perennial problem of how to effectively referee the breakdown. Some heated discussion no doubt will take place. (Who referees a referee’s convention?)

Despite the full agenda I am sure time will also be found to compare the latest notes from the ‘do you wear lycra’ referee fraternity. With the 470 mile charity ride on behalf of the Royal British Legion and RNRMC coming ever closer the training continues. The cycling refs can at least enjoy the last of the summer sunshine before the long sleeves and the wet weather gear is rooted out for Autumn.

Further details on the RNRURS Training Day, 10:00 19th September, RNAS Yeovilton can be obtained from Society Secretary, Geoff Howells. You can’t miss him even though he likes to walk around in disguise!