Thursday, 26 August 2010

What did he give that for?............or the art of communication.

When The Rugby Ref blows his whistle he has to communicate to everyone why he has done so. He can do this using his voice and with signals.  The sequence usually goes whistle, voice, primary signal, secondary signal. But why bother?

Well communication is important for the players, the coaches and the spectators.

The players need to know what they have done wrong and what they have to do next. The coaches need to know what the penalty count is and why, so they can work on reducing the penalty count in training. The spectators just want to know what's happening.

Spectators may not be aware that The Rugby Ref uses different whistle tones for different stoppages. Lineout, ball going dead, etc get a quick peep just so people know to stop playing. Scrums and free kicks will get a slightly longer and louder blast. Penalties will result in a long loud blast that should stop everyone in their tracks.

Short, clear and concise. "Penalty, green 7, hands in"; or "Penalty, blue 3, off his feet". The Rugby Ref may also decide to include a short explanation if he feels it is required, to prevent repeat offences. But this should be a short statement, not an invitation to a discussion. "Black 6, you were off your feet... no hands, roll away". "Red 3, release man and ball completely before you compete for the ball".

Primary signal.
This should be what you are giving, penalty, free kick or scrum.

Secondary signal.
This should be why you are giving it. In at the side, knock on or pulling down the maul.

Signals should be crisp, clear and unambiguous. Occasionally The Rugby Ref may not have time for a secondary signal, if a quick penalty is taken for instance. Wherever possible though, The Rugby Ref will try to keep everyone informed with good clear communication. Players and coaches may not be exactly happy with a decision, but at least they will know what they did wrong and why they got penalised.

Next time you watch rugby on the television watch the referee and see if you can work out what happened just from his whistle and signals.

You can see examples of all the official signals on the IRB Laws website by clicking HERE.

So.......what 'did' he give that for?

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