Friday, May 23, 2008
A rugby referee is the most watched, listened to, and continuously criticised man on the field at any given time. Thirty guys, all much bigger normally, hang onto his every move in anticipation of what game changing decision is coming next.
Not only do the men with the whistles have to deal with players moaning, coaches nitpicking, the media tearing them to pieces, and the reality of the job being at risk if they have an off day, but they also have to be extremely fit and get around the ground with the same speed as a top player who needs to be at every ruck.
We sometimes under-estimate how fit these ref's actually are, and that they have to go through stringent testing to get to the top level, and if they're not fit enough, they won't make it.
But as you can see here in this great little compilation video that was apparently thrown together by someone at the IRB, sometimes getting to the ruck and staying up with the action can be a little bit on the hazardous side. Perhaps it's safer for those old overweight ref's you at times see on school grounds. The ones who are never up with play and therefore stay out the danger zone, staying away from the contact situation up front.
Besides the bad collisions, notable funny clips here are Steve Walsh catching the ball in a test match, and Paddy O'Brien blowing the whistle from on the floor.
Enjoy, and the next time you play, spare a thought for the little guy out there who's doing his best to blow a good game, while at the same time avoid becoming a prop sandwich.