Friday 23 August 2019

Assistants and touch judges have different roles to play

Connacht Branch officials in action at the Sportsground
Connacht Branch officials in action at the Sportsground
Sean Gallagher

Damian Eames

It's in the final moments of a tight game, the trailing side are attacking inside the opposition's 22. Down by two points, the attacking team have manoeuvred the ball to under the posts when there is a clear and obvious infringement by the opposition.

As a referee, do you award a penalty straight away or look to play advantage first? Chances are most observers would call for a penalty. However, what if the attacking team needed another five-pointer to obtain an additional try bonus point?

How about another scenario. You have been appointed as a Touch Judge (TJ) and in the first few minutes you notice a player using his hands at a ruck to illegally push the ball back to his own side. The referee is unsighted and play continues. What do you do?

The real question to ask is do you know the difference between the scope of the role of a Touch Judge, versus that of an Assistant Referee? On the surface they appear to be the same (ie, they run the line with a flag).

There is, however, a significant difference in the breadth of each role. It ranges from the level of competition involved to the actual input expected (and also how technology is used to support the role).

It should be noted that all youth, schools and club games in Connacht are only permitted to appoint TJs.

Their role extends to advising on touch, in-goal decisions, kicks at goal and flagging to the referee any instances of foul play. At down times, they can provide input on any trends they notice in the match.

Assistant Referees are appointed to Pro12, European and B&I Cup games.

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This is worth noting, particularly if you wonder why a TJ didn't flag for an infringement that a referee may not have noticed.

The Association of Referees Connacht Branch (ARCB), is constantly working on increasing the awareness of our members week in and week out.

This is achieved via dedicated coaching, assessments and workshops. Being a member of ARCB is more than just blowing a whistle or raising a flag. It is knowing why, when and how it should be used. At times, knowing when not to is equally as important.

We are running our next workshop for those interested in becoming Pathway or Community Referees this weekend, at the Galway Sportsground.

Our full-time referee development officer Sean Gallagher will help you on your first steps.

Our proven and dedicated approach to referee training and development has received significant praise from many different rugby stakeholders.

For more details, please email or phone 086 1735096.

Alternatively, check out our website,

As always, we are grateful to our friends in local radio media for supporting our referee recruitment drives, namely: Galway Bay FM, Mid-West Radio, Shannonside FM and Ocean FM.

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