After bringing together the region's coaches and referees for a special forum at Llandarcy, the Ospreys are to set to launch a regular 'Ask the Ref' feature that will continue to foster relationships between coaches, players and referees.
The new feature comes off the back of the special conference, which was open to all referees and coaches from within Ospreylia, whatever their level. In a first for any Welsh Region, James Jones and Huw Watkins made a presentation on the new law variations and directives issued to referees to the 82 attendees, which was followed by an interactive practical session focusing on the contact area. The feedback from this session was extremely positive with requests for similar events in the future.
The success of the event has led to the Ospreys Community team opting to launch a regular ‘Ask the Ref’ feature via the new-look website, which it is hoped will prove invaluable to players, coaches, referees and any interested rugby people in the region. Any queries on points of law are welcomed, with responses being provided by Senior Welsh Rugby Union referee, James Jones, and his colleagues.
Feedback from coaches at the conference:
I very much enjoyed last night - thanks and well done.
I've never been to a joint meeting like that before and when I think about it, it's obviously the most efficient way of reaching the maximum number of players. In addition there was the added benefit of coach/ref understanding that could not have been otherwise achieved.
I thought your winding up remarks (basically about respect for the ref) were as important as any of the technical stuff. Having seen the technical points, even in slow motion, it confirmed how very difficult the job is. Junior players in particular follow their coaches example in their attitude towards refs and I think the "vote of confidence" you gave them last night was wholly appropriate.
Ospreys Coach Development Officer Dan Owens, who attended the event in an observational capacity, commented:
"This is a ground breaking event that has changed the way in which coaches and referees view each other. Those in attendance now have a greater mutual understanding for the others roles and duties in developing and running our game.
"The fact that we could practically illustrate key areas of contact area play and have the views of what coaches are coaching players to achieve in attack and defence, has grown the referees understanding of implications of actions of players in this crucial area of the game. Equally the coaches now have an insight into what the referees are looking for at the breakdown, and can better coach their players to play to the limit of the laws.
"All in all, this event has educated the two most crucial parties in the game to assist in achieving playing success on the field. Looking forward to the future, continuation to grow the relationships of coaches and referees, can only be of benefit to the game and the Ospreys Coach Development department will be actively seeking to nurture this growth".
WRU referee James Jones, Chairman of the West Society of Referees, commented:
“On behalf of West Society of referees the evening was an invaluable insight into what coaches are trying to achieve at the breakdown and how this aspect is refereed. It was excellent to have an opportunity for practical demonstrations and an open two way dialogue between both referee and coaches alike.
“Tony Thomas and Dan Owens of the Ospreys have made it clear they want to build relationships between their coaches and referees; in my role as Chairman of the local referee society we saw this as a good opportunity to invite the coaches into one of our monthly meetings and discuss the recent iRB Directives and law changes.
“The feedback received has been very positive and whilst this has only taken place on a local basis, perhaps other regions will adopt a similar policy and make waves to create a more constructive relationship between referees and coaches alike. We plan to make this an on-going project and hope to meet again in the new year to discuss another topic which will be prevalent at the mid way stage of the season.
“Between now and then, we will be operating an ‘Ask the Ref’ feature with the Ospreys, that will, it is hoped, allow us to continue to grow relationships between all parties, for the benefit of rugby in this region.”
Tony Thomas, Coach Development Officer for the Ospreys said:
“This initiative illustrates our determination to ensure that the Ospreys are pushing back the boundaries in every aspect of operation. We received some very useful suggestions from referees and coaches, which will only help to improve the service that we provide. We were delighted both by the turnout at the event and by the enthusiastic response from those present.
“It is frequently evident that there is confusion between referees, players, coaches and spectators and the new ‘Ask the Ref’ feature gives us an opportunity to achieve an element of clarity. It is not to be regarded as a forum for complaints about individuals and only questions on points of law will be answered. We will endeavour to respond to as many appropriate queries as possible.”
Anyone with a question for the referees should email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and a selection of questions will be answered via the website.