Warrington Wolves players and coaches recently completed a referees’ course giving them an insight into the world of a Rugby League official.
Players from across the first team, under 19s and under 16s all attended an interactive presentation on the rules of the game, on what is expected of referees and on how all parties come together on the field.
Super League referee Ben Thaler gave a first-hand perspective alongside Alan Smith and Tony Brown who headed up the course.
At the end of the session each player and coach completed an exam giving them the foundation qualification to officiate junior or open-age rugby.
Wolves’ head of coaching and rugby Tony Smith said: “There were some great discussions and it was very informative. It gave the players and coaches a different perspective of refereeing; when you get a greater understanding of someone else's role I think you build up a greater appreciation of what they've got to contend with…There were some good debates over the interpretation of some rules.
“It's quite unique that a club would do this for the full group of players but I do think it's important that we have a full understanding of the rules and regulations of the game and that we play within them.”
Co-captain Ben Westwood echoed Smith’s sentiments.
“It's good to interact with them (officials) and to have a good relationship with referees for when we are on the field. Ben's come in and we had a laugh while doing the course; it was enjoyable, something different while getting an insight into what they go through and looking at the rule book.”
On the additional benefits for the young academy players he added: “Some of the young lads aren't going to make it unfortunately; there are only a few who get to the top so maybe this is another way for them to stay involved in the game. There are rumours that it's going to change to two referees per game so we may need some referees pretty soon. This is a good way to stay in Rugby League and for people ending their playing careers too.”
Referee Ben Thaler was impressed with the reaction from the players and the interest they showed in learning more about their sport.
“I was impressed with the questions that got fired back and the knowledge and understanding…It's about turning common sense and opinion into what's law.
“It's good for a player to understand what is expected as a referee, not for a referee; what the referee is expected to do. You can tailor things to manage a game but everybody has to be consistent and that is what we want in Super League; a consistent playing field and I think we've got it this year where all games are officiated the same. We are handling things the same as a group and I think the players, from this session, understand that.”
He added, on life as a referee: “By officiating you are involved with some of the best players in the world - in the competition - and have that feeling out there of being involved. It's the next best thing to playing as you are involved, building up relationships with players where respect works both ways.”
Photos Courtesy of George Thornton and Bob Brough
22nd Jul 2014
Warrington Wolves players and coaches from across the first team, under 19s and under 16s have all completed a foundation level referees' course to give them a better understanding of the world of officiating in Rugby League.