For some referees, the school holidays are a time to put the feet (and whistle) up, as there are fewer games around than usual. Not for 49 junior referees in Sydney. Over the two weeks of the April school holidays these boys chose to attend one of three one day ‘referee camps’. Six of these intrepid referees also refereed U10-14 cross-field 7s at Camp Wallaby (a skills development camp for U10-14 age players run by ARU staff in Sydney over three days).
These opportunities were organised by the ARU’s Referee Education Coordinator for NSW, Alex Richards, reacting to strong demand from the three Sydney district referee associations to provide continuing education to school-aged referees outside the traditional monthly education nights (invariably on a weeknight).
Attendees participated in a series of activities where they were required to referee other participants in tackle, ruck, maul, scrum and lineout scenarios. They were given constant feedback on where to stand, what to say, and in what order they should look for things. In many cases, this was reinforcing what they’d been taught earlier on formal courses.
Participants were also lucky enough to receive advise on pre-game preparation and their pre-game chats from two senior Sydney-based referees – Andrew Lees (current IRB 7s and Super Rugby referee) and Anthony Moyes (current IRB 7s referee). As well as learning about the importance of writing down your points for improvement in a notebook, and on the differences between the 7s circuit and normal refereeing, participants also had to write out and role-play their own pre-game process. We foresee a lot shorter and targeted pre-game chats occurring in junior games around Sydney in the future . . .
Mainly these camps were about fun though. No-one felt that they were in class and being made to study, but they were learning in a practical and participative way. The fantastic facilities made available at each of the camp venues (Waverley College, Knox Grammar and Newington College) also contributed to the success of the camp, as did the support of the school/association representative who facilitated the role-play sessions (Richard Chen, Nick Brown and Michael Bosman).
In Richard’s case, he also cooked a mean bacon & egg sandwich breakfast for everyone, after taking his Waverley boys for a physical training session earlier that morning. Such commitment!