Refs – take my advice and give kickers the silent treatment
On the field a number of issues worthy of comment have arisen. One issue, for all the emphasis on professionalism in the build-up (leaving no stone unturned), is almost laughable as it becomes increasingly common place.
The standard kick-off whereby the forwards gathered on one side of the field with the backs spread across the other has long been replaced by split resources – aided and abetted by backs who are now every bit as big as forwards of old.
But have you noticed the little tete-a-tete between referee and kicker charged with starting the game (usually the out-half)?
Two incidents at the weekend were almost farcical given the spy v spy element. At the RDS on Friday, Romain Poite, upon asking Dan Biggar as to what side he (Biggar) would be kicking. then moved very indiscreetly to the other side out of his way.
The same scenario was repeated at the Allianz Stadium the following day with Dan Parks and Leighton Hodges involved.
Here again (and with both kickers talking to the referee with their mouth hidden by the rugby ball lest the opposition lip read!) the man with the whistle moved clearly to the side the ball was not going to be heading.
All very logical of course, but short of holding up a sign to the team receiving stating 'it's coming your way' referees are undoing all this 'incredibly professional detail' in the build-up by dint of their questioning (of the kicker) followed by the appropriate starting position (to one side or the other) on kick-off.
Two simple suggestions for all whistlers everywhere: firstly, don't talk to the kicker and, secondly, stand two or three paces behind the No 10 (or whoever) then follow the ball upon contact.
It sure ain't rocket science but it's making the start to matches pantomime-like.