Controlling your career – by Pat McNally

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on November 3rd, 2009

By Pat McNally

Referees, by job description, are responsible for controlling the rugby match. The degree of control needed in a game is determined by the players’ actions and whether or not they want to play within the spirit of the laws of the game.

Clearly there are things that are beyond a referee’s control, like the condition of the pitch or the weather.

Likewise, there are many aspects of a referee’s career that they can control, and there are some they cannot. The most effective referee is the one that can recognize the difference between the two.

No matter what level you referee at, you have a better chance to become more successful (and more satisfied) when you learn to focus and work on those things that are under your control.

Personal fitness is something that is directly under our control; frequency and quality of exercise, healthy diet, how much sleep we get, etc.

The attitude you bring to the match is a matter of personal choice. How we conduct ourselves on and off of the pitch lets everyone know what kind of person we are.

To minimize the inevitable frustrations that confront every referee’s career, it is important to recognize and let go of those things you cannot control. Match appointments can be a source of anxiety for many referees, but are completely out of their hands.

Birth certificates don’t lie and no amount of hair dye can change the fact of one’s age. Referee evaluations are an educated opinion from an experienced assessor. It is more important to learn from the evaluation, rather than trying to change the document.

A referee friend was once invited to a prestigious tournament and set a goal of being appointed to the finals. This referee had worked very hard, was well prepared and the final was a realistic goal, however, she was not given the final and was disappointed at first.

Then, after thinking it through, my friend realized that being appointed to the final was not under her control, and she had done everything within her power to achieve that goal. She had therefore succeeded because she had put herself in the best possible position to make the final. And this referee’s career continues to rise.

If you get a chance, try reading Paddy O’Brien – Whistle While You Work, by Bob Howitt, and Andre Watson – The Autobiography, with Paul Dobson, about two of the best referees that ever walked the pitch, and you can see how their careers took off when they realized and accepted that which they could and could not control.

Members of 12-step programs and friends of Bill W. are quite familiar with the “Serenity Prayer”,

God grant me the serenity to
accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Referees need to heed its meaning, or else they may find themselves in some church basement in a circle of chairs, drinking cold coffee and declaring, “Hi, my name is Patrick (Hi Patrick!), and I’m . . . I’m a referee.”

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