One of very own Jon Markowitz just completed his exchange with Queensland Referee Group in Australia and he provided a short review of his experience. SCRRS is proud to support Jon and others who want to build upon their personal development and growth of the game.
For the game
Ladies and Gentlemen of the QRRA and SoCal Rugby,
And by that, I mean, Heya Simon and Phil,
I've returned safe and sound from Brisbane, where I was treated with extraordinary hospitality and kindness all around. Starting from Simon picking me up at the airport on Friday morning, he put me up for the weekend and saw to it that I was well fed, transported, and assigned for the weekend ahead. Due to a last-minute forfeit by the visiting team - literally, the home club and I had already finished our warm-ups when the search for the visitors went full swing and the bad news came - I was unable to referee for placement on the first weekend. Nevertheless, we inundated ourselves with live-stream rugby from local Premiership to the Super Rugby, and enjoyed a curry and a drink t.v.-side. (Dr.) Pete Rizzo, transplant formerly from the NYRRA, met me for the late match at a nearby venue and treated me to drinks and a great time, as Simon was otherwise obligated with family for the remainder of the evening.
I took a personal leisure visit to Sydney to catch up with a college friend for a day, she and her husband showed me the good life in Sydney and broke me in an early morning cross-fit session on my way back to QLD. I arrived in the Gold Coast Monday evening, where Jack Gohl picked me up and organized me a home-cooked meal, a Welcome To Your New Home lamb roast.
Tuesday is when the real work kicked off. We took a 430a wake-up call to get to the High Performance training session at Ballymore stadium grounds, where local referees Referees Nic Berry, Damon Murphy, and a lightly injured Jordan Way were in their mandatory attendance. Training was an hour, and an intense one. Running toe-to-toe with these fellas was nothing short of inspiring, given that they are the 3 fittest referees in World Rugby, in addition to being filled with all varieties of rugby talent from playing to refereeing and everything in between. Had you not either met them elsewhere or seen them on TV, one would have never known that they were 3 of the most well-appointed refs on Earth, and some of the finest professional athletes that the modern sport has known. We all went for coffee as seemed to be the weekly tradition. What an experience!
Wednesday was community rugby education and training, which was attended by roughly 30. Education was canceled due to technicalities and timing, but training was on. Thursday evening was another HP group in the evening, and Jack took care of transportation, yet again, from the Gold Coast. The WR fellas weren't in attendance, given that they had weekend obligations for Super Rugby or WR and were already out of country. Still, we started with a Yo-Yo in the pouring rain, and then had a full-on session for another hour. I could have collapsed!
Friday was the only off-day for training, so the QRRA and Jack treated me to a Reds v. Rebels home match at Suncorp, which was an excellent venue and a great night at the rugby.
Game Day: University of QLD rugby in St. Lucia, what an awesome venue. I wouldn't be appointed to a very challenging match, given that the placement match was scratched from the previous, but never mind. The opportunity to try on my game for size in another culture of rugby was worth the price of admission. I handled the Norths v. U.Q. 3rds', and in spite of (perhaps because of?) uncontested scrums, we got a lot of action out of our 80 total minutes. It resembled a Santa Monica v. OMBAC reserves or D1 low-table match.
Over all, to see how the QRRA handles its business was a fabulous opportunity. Due to logistic issues and this being the first effort at interchange with SoCal, there were obviously some gains left for wanting. But for a first effort, this was plainly excellent. And now that we know about one half of the equation, we are that much closer to getting something that has been really special to me to be a permanent and reliable establishment.
Special individual thanks to Simon Moore, Jack Gohl, and James Patterson, who looked after me with good care. Happens that Jack and James are two of the most talented young refs I've met at home or abroad, and show more than plenty of wherewithal to handle a match of any level in the USA or SoCal purview, should they also be considered for the trip to SoCal. I want to thank both unions for their support in starting up an exchange which I hope will propel referees and coaches alike into their growing, and which stands the test of time for many years to come.