Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Podcast Episode 14: Sean Whalen (Utah Warriors)

In this episode, I talk with Sean Whalen, the founder and owner of Rugby Super League team Utah Warriors. Sean tells us about the recent announcement regarding warriors expansion into two additional leagues as well taking over the coaching and management of the renowned youth rugby institution, Highland High School. 

You can catch the interview on the player below or head on over to iTunes, our Facebook page, or our RSS Feed, where you can listen to this and previous episodes.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Angry Ref - "My Kryptonite"

I probably shouldn’t say this.  I shouldn’t reveal my secret.  I have a weakness, one that renders all my powers of game management useless and impotent.  I shouldn’t reveal it.  Not only for my own sake but because, like all Kryptonians who draw immense power from our yellow sun share the same weakness, so too do all my reffing brethren (and sistren, if that’s a word) share a common frailty: the final whistle.  Though we are “the sole judge of fact and of Law during a match” once the match ends we are reduced to the standing of mere mortals. 

I first learned this fact many years ago during a tournament.  I was a rookie ref and I’d had a particularly taxing game.  I’d made a couple of iffy calls and on a couple of them weakened my credibility by making a declaration like “It’s a maul!” followed quickly by something like, “Wait, no it’s not!”. That is to say, I wasn’t on top of the game.  I wasn’t terrible, nothing that swung the outcome one way or the other but it didn’t look good.  The players in this case were no help either, flying this way and that, engaging in all manner of activities seemingly designed to mask any semblance of a rugby match.   

To top it off, one of the captains was a mouthy member of The Empire who thought he knew every damn thing about the game and was more than willing to share his observations.  At one point the two captains dove after a ball, landed out of bounds and proceeded to fight each other (as they had failed to disturb the ball in any way I chose to ignore them and focus on the play on the field, this decision was also unpopular).  It was pretty ugly all around but I was still completely unprepared for what happened after the final whistle.   

At the end of the match, which ended (appropriately in my estimation) in a draw, Captain Limerton approached me but instead of the usual questions or complaints he simply said, “You’re a complete f***ing retard.”  I was completely taken aback.  I couldn’t even muster a perfunctory “F*** you.”  I had been completely stymied.  I went back to the referee’s tent to ask what to do in that situation and was essentially told that nothing could be done.  One of the other refs did offer to talk to the player, when the ref returned his only comment was, “Well it did sound like he had some valid complaints.”

Very well.

I’ll tell you another tale of woe.  I once had a game that was getting out of hand.  The players were more interested in fighting than playing ball and the crowd was threatening to storm the field.  After an egregious foul, for fear of a total meltdown that would put me on the evening news, I blew the whistle to signify the end of the game.  I then went through the full procedure of issuing a red card to the offending player.  Guess what?  When I submitted my report the disciplinary committee dismissed it due to the fact that a card cannot be issued after a game has ended.  This actually happened a couple times before I was able to calm down in the moment and get the correct procedure.  In fact, in one case the game was so out of hand that I issued a red card report without talking to the player involved by getting his name off of the roster sheet when I got home.  This was another non-starter for the disciplinary committee.

The point is, as far as I’ve seen in my travels and discussions with referees there’s not much I can do after the match has ended.  There’s no official sanction in the law book for negative conduct towards the ref after the match.  The final whistle is my Kryptonite.  Once I take off the cape I’m just another guy.  The primary advice I’ve come across is simply to “be better during the match.”  Not real helpful as advice goes but I’ve taken it to heart.  I haven’t had an incident like the ones above in several years.

As you well know my dear and loyal readers The Angry Ref has no shortage of stories of mouthy players getting tossed about by hand signals and cards as if I were some combination of DarthVader and Gambit.  If you want to have your say without fear of immediate reprisal simply wait until after the game.  We’re basically defenseless, with the following caveat: you’re union and results may vary.  I’d like to think that some unions address referee abuse even after the match but so far I haven’t found one.  That said, don’t be surprised if your union comes down on you for something you say to a ref after a match.   

Also, once the match is over and we’re all just regular people again the ref is under no compunction to be nice to you anymore either.  The worst I’ve ever done after a match is tell a U19 coach, in front of his players and parents, that he should never be allowed around children.  I also said to a parent who approached at midfield after a match to complain about what I had missed that, very quietly and very calm so that no one else could hear me, “No one gives a f*** what you saw.”  But don’t be surprised if you get lippy after a match and the ref verbally tears you a new one. If that happens it won’t be me though.  My union expects refs to handle these types of situations with class.  Also, remember that if you and the ref are performing at a similar level you’ll likely see the ref again. 

And again. 

And again. 

And while The Angry Ref would never suggest that we whistle wearers hold grudges or allow them to influence our game, well, not everyone is as kind hearted and level headed as I am.

Monday, May 16, 2011

PlayRugby USA's 2nd Annual PSAL High school rugby 7s championship kicks of May 20th

On Friday May 20th, the Public Schools Athletic League (PSAL), in conjunction with Play Rugby USA, will host the 2nd Annual PSAL High school rugby 7s championship. 12 teams from 8 schools will work their way towards the championship tournament by competing in the Olympic version of the worlds 2nd most popular sport, under “Friday night lights” tournaments every week from April 29th.

Each team will receive points depending upon their placing in each weekly tournament with the championship winning team collecting the most points from the four tournaments and being recognized as the best in New York at the championship round on May 20th.

The tournament will include 12 teams with over 150 Male and Female student athletes. Mark Griffin and the PlayRugby Team will be on hand plus various guest players from the USA Women's rugby world cup team.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Shadow Pete Steinberg, the USA Women's National Team Coach!

The Coach Development Program, in conjunction with the USA Women's National Team, is offering a shadowing opportunity during the WNT's Nation's Cup Camp to be held from June 22-26, 2011 at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA.  Only two spots are available for this amazing opportunity.

Interested persons must submit a rugby resume and cover letter to Mollie McCarthy, USA Rugby's Coach Development Manager.  Applicants must be passionate about rugby and coaching, organized, and devoted to
improving their coaching skills.  Applicants must also have a USA Rugby coaching certification.

USA Rugby will cover the costs of accommodation, but the two selected coaches will be responsible for their travel costs. Email your resume and cover letter to mmccarthy@usarugby.org by MAY 18, 2011.

Further Information:
Mollie McCarthy | Coach Development Manager | USA Rugby | mmccarthy@usarugby.org

USA Rugby's Nigel Melville to offer free 'Director of Rugby Course' in August

This August, USA Rugby's top dog Nigel Melville will be hosting a three day Director of Rugby Course in Colorado open to all coaches. The free course is aimed at helping coaches to plan their career and learn what it takes to become a professional rugby coach.  Nigel plans to share the tools you will need to build and develop your own program, and insights into life as a professional Director of Rugby.

He will lead the course along a few "special guests" through a variety of subjects. The course will be held from August 10th-12th in Denver and is followed at the weekend by the Eagles vs. Canada World Cup warm-up game being played at Infinity Park in Glendale, CO. on Saturday August 13th.

For more details and to register, head on over to www.jotform.com/Sjohn/directorOfRugbyCourse

Monday, May 9, 2011

Utah Warriors Rugby Adds Two Teams, Partners with Famed Highland Team

SANDY, Utah, May 9, 2011 -- The Utah Warriors, the first professional rugby team in Utah, announced their expansion into two additional leagues, as well as taking over coaching and management of the Highland High School rugby teams.

In addition to the current Utah Warriors team in the Rugby Super League (RSL), the Warriors franchise will expand into the following teams during the remainder of 2011 and into the 2012 season:

  • Division 1- Due to the large amount of players, and limited spots on their Super League roster, the Utah Warriors have decided to enter a team in the Division 1.  Their first season will begin in 2012.  Utah Warriors principal Sean Whalen said, "We are excited about getting a Division 1 team in place as soon as possible. Players in Utah saw the fantastic opportunity the Utah Warriors provided this season, and we want to ensure our Division 1 and Super League teams are competing every year for a National Championship. The Warriors Division 1 team will quickly become the best D1 team in the country because Utah has some of the best rugby talent in America".

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