You Hold The Power.

It is probably about time I talked to you guys about the powerhouse of this refereeing business. You may all think that it’s in the strength in one’s legs or the oxygen in one’s lungs, however for most referee’s it is the brain that is the ‘brain’s’ of the whole operation. This is why I’m going to have a fat old yarn about mindset. This organ is the make or break of a referee, including myself and it has taken me a while to grasp the fact that a lot of things are mind over matter. Since the brain is the engine, if that engine then goes off in fits and starts until eventually it all blows up, then the referee is left in the same spot, heading nowhere, looking like a clown stuck in the middle of the road blocking traffic (and therefore the game). For me, this is a real thing and has happened on a few occassion’s. I can be physically able to complete a game to a reasonable or high quality standard, and then the old brain kicks in and tells me everything I don’t need to hear and more. This is why learning and practicing having a positive mindset is a HUGELY important aspect in training as a referee.

Let me give you a very real example from just a week ago so you catch my drift. Last week I was appointed a game in which I had refereed the two teams before. In the first game, neither of the teams wanted to ‘play rugby’ and there were fights and handbags being thrown left right and centre. Often though, these altercations were steathily started and finished out of my line of sight. I had no support of the sideline and no matter how much I slowed the game down, nobody respected my decisions and absolutely nobody wanted to carry out a game that was remotely similar to that of rugby. I finished that game mentally exhausted, noting it as the worst game I had ever had the pleasure to referee and told myself that I would NEVER EVER do it again. EVER. Well, knowing my crazy luck, last week I got appointed to this game, with the exact same teams and I was less than impressed…

My mindset at the beginning of the week was understandably average (actually, more average than average). I was adamant that I would not be a part of their circus, and taking the role of ringmaster was not something on my to do list in the near future. This is obviously not aligning with the whole positive mindset movement I had going on at the beginning of this blog, but hold tight. I wanted to bail on this game. My other half sat in the car with me before our referee meeting and just said ‘why don’t you make the game better’ ‘why don’t you prove yourself wrong’ ‘why don’t you slow it down, set standards early’. Yet I didn’t want to hear this, I didn’t want to see reason and I really didn’t want it to be worse because they already knew that they had the one up on me before I could even blow my whistle. I went into our meeting as the sulk I was, and listened to how a ref in a similar position to me had, weeks earlier, taken to his game with a positive mindset and the game turned out to be a ripper, because he wanted it to be. This is about the time when I wanted to stand up and say a big F YOU, because it was exactly what I needed to hear, and rendered my ‘it’ll be worse’ idea, useless.

My coach took charge and became my AR, as the support I didn’t have in the previous game and my other half and my flat mate continued to change my mindset from Monday until Saturday from very negative to ‘slightly’ positive. I went into that game doing all the things that everyone said would work. I set those standards, I took minimal shit and told them that if they don’t deal with it than I will, and we had a great ol game of actual rugby (to my surprise!).

It all goes to show that how you think about your game as a referee can change the course that the game could have gone on (negative or positive) and that is huge. I have gotten over that game and am now on to many more, with finals rugby this weekend. However, if I hadn’t have even begun learning about this mindset thing, I wouldn’t be going into final’s footy feeling as positive as I do now. Good game or bad game? You hold the power.

Peace out,


1 Comment

  1. A referees job is to ensure both sides have the same opportunity to win . there is your fitness to be in the right place . . . there are the rules which you get to adjudicate on . . and there is your communication to manage the players. Every now and then you need a mindset change and you need to be a bastard and make those calls that players with a bad attitude are asking you to make . . and sometimes that is straight off the bat . . Sometimes that starts before the game when you are talking to captains and other times it starts by backing up your mindset after you have started the game and you do deal with that first bit of discontent between players. The confidence of knowing how and when to use each of these management tools, and to what level should hopefully override feelings of anxiety or concern leading up to an appointed game. Unfortunately it’s part of our learning that we have to go through these situations. . . You only get better by working through these situations and figuring out what position to put yourself in leading up to, before, and during.


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