by Nigel Melville
Nigel Melville Direct
Earlier this week the team coaches had a bit of a get together in Auckland with RWC Referee Manager Paddy O'Brien to make sure they are all on side with his approach to this years event. In France 2007, there was a crack down on high tackles (Paul Emerick can tell you all about that) this year its about cracking down on offsides and tactics to slow the game down at the breakdown.
His comments to the coaches included the statement that the referees would control matches according to the rules and not by a vision of how the game should be played. "It is not the role of the referee to decide how the game is played, it is the role of the referee to create an environment for a team to play the way they wish to" he said - amen to that!
I don't go to games to watch the referee and neither does anyone else, the referee is there to apply the laws of the game, the key at a competition like the World Cup is consistency, or as England Coach martin Johnson said, "no shocks and no surprises".
Which reminded me, I wanted to share with you a rugby film I watched last week about the 1905 All Blacks tour to Wales, I think it was their first tour to the Principality, shrouded in mystery and myth, but an awesome story. The All Blacks arrived in Cardiff having swept all before them, the All Blacks performed the Haka and the Welsh team responded by singing their National Anthem and the crowd joined in - starting a tradition that continues to this very day.
Anyway the game gets underway, and Wales go into the second half leading by a try. Then the All Blacks make a break and a tackle is made close to the Welsh line. There is no film, no touch judge close by and the Scottish referee, wearing his dress suit, tie and shoes was some distance behind play. The try was not given and the New Zealand player claimed he had scored but the Welsh players pulled him back over the line - massive controversy continues to this day!
Which brings me back to the role of the referee. When the game was first played there were no referees, being gentlemen, the two captains acted as the referees...something's have definitely changed for the better.....can you imagine that happening today? 'That was a knock on", "No it wasn't...
With an impressive resume as player, coach and administrator, Nigel David Melville took over as CEO and President of Rugby Operations of USA Rugby, the National Governing Body of the sport in America, in 2006. In addition to his full time job promoting the sport in the U.S., Melville has launched his own blog, Nigel Melville Direct, to further the discussion and his passion for what it will take to make the U.S. a great rugby playing nation.
CLICK HERE to read more on Nigel Melville
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