Referees Societies Review of the Season 2015-2016


Referees Societies Review of the Season 2015-2016






Geoff Gill


Hon. Secretary, Manchester & District Referees Society




We have regretfully to report the loss of two members, Alan Johnson, a long serving member both of the Macclesfield club and Cheshire RFU also Colin High, an International referee who later became the first manager of the RFU Professional Referee Group. Both members a great loss to the game.


Our representatives on the RFU panel, Referees: Chris Bennett, Andy Taylorson and Matt Turvey have now been joined by Callum Sharp, congratulations Callum. Assistant Referees: Steve Bennett, Steve Halliday and David Lodge. All of whom continue to perform well and also contribute to the Society for our mid-week games or when not required at top level at weekend As yet we now only have one North Group member: Matthew Riley. The invaluable work done by Nigel Yates both with the Federation Development Squad and Development Forum will hopefully assist more referees to achieve their potential in the near future and swell the numbers.


David Guerin continues as our representative on the RFRU.


We have another representative to the RFU in Nick Taylor who is a presenter of the Level 2 Awards Courses which is the compulsory stepping stone to becoming a Society referee.


The RW Cup was not England’s finest hour but at least Graham Hughes’s input as the only TMO from the Northern Hemisphere was well merited. Winning the 6 Nations went some way to alleviating the disappointment. During the World Cup the RFU Road show held in Albert Square, Manchester was well attended and hopefully may encourage some to take up the whistle.


The World Rugby Under 20 Championship is to be held in Manchester in June, and the Society intend to have a presence which should give another referee recruitment opportunity.


Once again the weather has played a major role in disrupting the best laid plans for the season, even worse than that of last year. Fortunately our three Appointment Secretaries, Alan Farmer, John Jeskins and Peter Hughes are made of sterner stuff and have coped excellently with all the re-arrangements and changes which ensued. They were well supported by the team of seven re-appointment secretaries.


On the league weeks, especially before Christmas when the schools are active, we are short, albeit we have scraped through most of the time, mainly thanks to the hard work of the reappointments teams and the flexibility of a goodly number of the membership (especially those who have doubled up from time-to-time). Both the Sunday and Midweek situations are being pushed to very tight limits. This problem is exacerbated by the lax administration of some of the academic establishments despite the work of Peter Hughes in arranging a pre-season meeting for representatives of those institutions in which the organisation and requirements of the Society are outlined.


We await with anticipation the announcement of the new structured season, we would not want to again have the situation of non-league Saturdays whereby referees do not get games.


This season we have lost 32 active referees, mainly due to injury/age or moving out of area. The level of abuse encountered by referees especially encountered in junior games has not helped retention nor the fact that at the lower levels of games there has been an increase in the number of times sides have turned up with less than 15 players or have had to have uncontested scrums from the start. The situation could result in our not being able to fulfil all requests especially in the period leading up to Christmas when there is a high level of school games.


On the positive side we have recruited 37 new referees which include two returning members and two ladies.


To conclude on a much more positive note, thanks must be given to the overwhelming majority of referees who give reliable, selfless service on a regular basis.  Those thanks should also be extended to virtually all the Club Contacts whose conscientious work, administration and excellent communication makes the lives of the Appointments Team a whole lot easier, they accept the inevitable re-arrangements without complaint. We just now need to encourage the recalcitrant few to achieve their high standards. Just a polite reminder to Contacts to ensure that they receive a reply from their referee should they require to leave a message in any format.


To enable referees to meet compulsory fitness levels where applicable and others to measure and improve upon their fitness levels Nigel Longley has again organised sessions at venues in both the north and south of our area, our thanks are extended.


It is the intention of the Executive Committee to encourage more members to take on responsibility for tasks in the administration of the Society.


We should like to express our sincere thanks to all the clubs for the hospitality shown to our members on their visits, long may it continue.


In addition to those mentioned, many more have contributed significantly to ensure the successful running of the Society, to all of them our sincere thanks are offered. And finally, my personal thank you goes out to those who have assisted me throughout the season.  Summer well.






Anthony Rossall


Hon. Secretary, Liverpool Referees Society




We come to the end of another season, one which marked the passing away of two stalwarts of the Liverpool Referees Society. Colin Christy a member of the Society for over 50 years, past President, assessor with the North Group and the RFU, a member of the Appointments and Grading Committee will be sorely missed for his commitment, integrity and good humour. Bob Smith a referee for many years, an assessor, and as a member of the Appointments and Grading Committee was responsible for keeping individual data for each referee. The Society will miss both of them for their support, time and energy they gave refereeing.


During the season we all witnessed England’s abysmal performance in the World Cup, not even managing to get out of the qualifying group. However, a transformation took place with a new coach in Eddie Jones England achieved a very creditable Grand Slam in the 2016 Six Nations. A young talented team who will be a force to reckon with in 2019. At this point a reminder that the U20 World Cup starts this June in Manchester.


Once again this season there are many positives to report regarding on the field matters. The Society is very pleased and proud to note that Ian Tempest is now a fully-fledged Premiership and International referee. He represents the Society with distinction and we hope to see him fulfil his potential and achieve Six Nation status. At this point congratulations must go to Ben Davis and Brenden McGaffney who have progressed well as RFU referees. We wish them well for next season.  We also have to say well done to Colin Burrell and James Brown as RFU assistant referees.  Well done to both of them! 


Our young referees are beginning to show their potential as part of the North West Federation and we can look forward to their elevation in the near future. Geraint Davies and Bob Wilkinson still maintain their positions within the RFU as coach and watcher. At North Group Paul Warrington and Ron Johnson retain their position as coaches as does Bryan Davies as a watcher. Once again it is pleasing to note that the Liverpool Referees Society continues to deliver an excellent service to our clubs, schools, universities and colleges, not to mention our Sunday Colts leagues.


During the season our referees have been available to ensure that we honour our commitments in a professional manner which has brought praise from many quarters of the game. Hence, I can inform the meeting that several promotions to referees, coaches and watchers have taken place at the lower levels and whilst too numerous to mention individuals the message that is being displayed is that the Society structure would appear sound and is fostering the development of refereeing at all levels.  Many thanks must go to the Appointments and Grading Committee, led by Gary Spengler and John Munn for ensuring that all referees, no matter what level are treated fairly and honestly.


Off the field it has been a good season for our mid-monthly meetings. Thanks must go to Ben Davis ably assisted by Kevin Toole for their positive, instructive, and enjoyable meetings.  It is good to note that the attendance has improved considerably and this augurs well for the future. Thanks once again must go to the Liverpool Collegiate Club for their hospitality throughout the season.


At this juncture I am pleased to take the opportunity to thank Kevin Toole for all the hard work he has put in during the season presenting Level 1 and Level 2 referee courses which has seen many new recruits to the Society. It also worth noting that Kevin continues to work with the North West Federation in attracting and training young referees who officiate at junior and senior games. Mention must be made that only last month Kevin received an award from Cheshire and the RFU for his work in recruiting new referees.


This year’s Annual Dinner was once again a very successful occasion enjoyed by Society and Club members meeting in central Liverpool. The guest speaker Pat Sanderson was excellent giving a player’s insight into the game at the top end. His question and answer session then proved to be very successful with those present. Again the Society must thank Colin Kershaw for the time and effort he put in order to make the occasion worthy of the Liverpool Society.


The Committees of the Society continue to work on your behalf to ensure that Society Business is dealt with in a mature and diligent manner. Any member who would like to take hands on approach and help as a committee member should put their name forward for office.


Finally, after 32 years as Referee Committee member, Chairman, President, Exchange Secretary and recently as Hon Secretary I have decided that it is time to stand down and take a rest from duties concerning running the Society. I will of course remain actively involved within the Society in some capacity. May I take this opportunity of thanking all the people I have worked over the years; it has been an experience not to be forgotten and one that has been very enjoyable.


Have a good rest over the summer, thank you for all efforts during a long season and hope to see you fit and well at the beginning of next season.