Setting a Good Example – by Pat McNally

Posted by SCRRS Website Committee on March 10th, 2010

In this column, National Sevens Referee Manager Paddy Mac looks at how a referee can manage a game while not losing sight of the bigger picture.

By Pat McNally

One of the most important tasks for a rugby referee is to set a good example for the match that is to be played on that day.

By conducting one’s self in a businesslike manner, always showing fairness to all teams, and keeping your composure under stressful conditions is to set the template for how the game should be played.

Each referee is ultimately responsible for setting the tone and the atmosphere of each game and should take the examples set by others to guide them.

For those of us lucky enough to be parents (and for those who are still children), know how important it is to set good examples and how easy it is to set a bad one.

Every move, every word a parent makes is noted and remembered, as in the old adage, “Every father should remember that one day his son will follow his example instead of his advice”.

Being honest with other people and one’s self, and having the integrity to back up your words with deeds, is probably the most important lesson a parent can teach their child. To have people be able to rely on your word and depend on you are valuable traits that one carries throughout life.

As rugby players, we do our best to set examples for our team in matches and in practice. Working hard on physical fitness, drilling on the basics, and establishing team calls and signals shows direction towards a common goal.

We strive to show we are good teammates by assuming our share of the workload and pitching in wherever our help is needed, on or off the field. In attack, we support the ball carriers by being in a position to take the pass and defensively we are prepared to make our tackles.

We work hard in both set play and open field play to secure possession for our team. Personal sacrifice for the team’s benefit is the best example we can set as players.

Coaches set examples for their teams through hard work and preparation. By meticulously plotting out practices, analyzing game film and studying opponent’s strengths and weaknesses, coaches prepare their teams to compete and put them in the best position to win.

Coaches have to keep an eye on the short term (how do we win this match?), and on the long term (how do we keep developing players? how do we position ourselves for the championship this year and next?).

Developing the talent to think through different situations and apply the appropriate tactic, while keeping everything in perspective, is the best example a coach can set.

Referees need to take all of these examples and put them into practice for every match they officiate. They must display personal integrity and have everyone believe that while they are not perfect, they are doing their very best every game they referee.

Referees must be team players, recognizing that the game is always about the players, not them, and work with their fellow referees to raise the overall standards of refereeing of their sport.

Each referee must be willing to work just as hard as the players and be fully prepared; maintain top physical fitness, keep up to date on knowledge of law, be professional in appearance and demeanor, and stay attuned to the circumstances of that day’s match.

Every one of us set examples in our everyday lives, whether at work, at home, or at play. The examples my father set are still the standards I try to meet, day in and day out.

By fully recognizing our role as referees and accepting our responsibility for setting the standards for each and every match, we can set examples that we can all be proud of.

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Be courteous, consistent, confident, knowledgeable, humble, respectful and fair. This is in the spirit of the sport and elevates players expectations. — Phil Klevorick

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