Football learns from rugby

Football referees in North Norfolk have been getting tips on how to handle player dissent - from a rugby ref.Key lessons to be learned from the oval ball game were chatting to players, and getting team captains to take more responsibility for their side.

Football referees in North Norfolk have been getting tips on how to handle player dissent - from a rugby ref.

Key lessons to be learned from the oval ball game were chatting to players, and getting team captains to take more responsibility for

their side.

Twenty-two members of the North Walsham branch of the Referees Association of England had a training session from Rugby Union regional development officer Ed Turnill.


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Branch vice-chairman Kevin Green said dissent was an issue in football, but not in rugby, so it was decided to see if there were any tips to be transferred between the sports.

Some things such as touchline technology and sin bins would not work in football, because of the speed of the game, and the likelihood of retaliation.

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But the way rugby refs built up more rapport with key players, including the captains, in the

build-up to the game, during kit inspections could be followed in football.

'They buttonhole the captain and tell him the players are his responsibility. Football captains are more ceremonial - they shake hands at the toss before kick off and that's about it.'

The football refs were shown a video of some of the foul play that goes on in rugby - stamping on groins and joints, eye-gouging and high tackles around the neck.

'Members were stunned at the ferocity and amazed that a single person could control it with good whistling and position as well as the well-placed word,' he added.

However rugby referees had it easier in some respects because the game was less flowing and more stop-start allowing time to stand in one place, reflect on decisions, and have chats with players.

Green said local football was in need of more referees, particularly former players, as Norfolk had about 320 refs to cover 450 games each weekend - meaning scores were controlled by untrained volunteers agreed by both teams.

Anyone interested in becoming a ref, fitness training or wanting to attend branch meetings should call Mr Green on 07787 561334.

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