It has often puzzled me how the Association of Referees Leinster Branch recruit people as referees when we consider the comments and sometime abuse that is often aimed at them, which in most cases is unjustified…

We in the Leinster Rugby Referees accept that people are passionate about their teams and that is what rugby is all about. However we cannot, and will not allow the support for teams to be an excuse for unjustified and at times insulting commentary and actions.

How often have you hear people comment on the referee’s eyesight, fitness, parentage and their physical size to justify comments on what are often correct decisions that a referee takes during the game? Even if a referee’s decision is wrong, does this justify such comment? What I always say is; try and imagine yourself at the receiving end of such comments and maybe your wife, partner or children standing on the sideline watching the match, how acceptable would it be to you? We are only human. Have you ever seen a referee in any code change his decision? No. And you never will.

Has it ever occurred to any rugby supporter how so many people are experts in the job of refereeing without ever having done the job themselves? Would you feel competent in giving instructions to someone having never done the job yourself? I don’t think so.

The job of refereeing takes years of training, undergoing courses and experience in order to referee at the highest level today.

This does not mean that we do not welcome reasonable, considered comment. Whether that be critical or complimentary. It is and it will be used to improve the performance of our referees. There are people in the game of rugby, members of clubs, sports writers and commentators who know the game and very importantly know the laws of the game.

When comments are made I would like to think they would be constructive and genuine. A broad comment like the referee ‘was a disgrace’ or ‘poor’, without been specific, are absolutely no value in the training of referees.

We in the Leinster Rugby Referees are constantly carrying out assessments on all our referees and improving their match performances. If someone criticises a referee’s performance it should be based on fact not just to sound poplar among your club members.

I would like to compliment the IRFU and the Leinster Branch Disciplinary Committees on their approach to referee abuse, both verbal and physical. The sanctions that have been handed out in recent seasons are to be applauded.

We in Leinster Referees with the help of IRFU must be doing something right just look at International Rugby Board Elite Referee Panel, the Irish lads keep hitting the top, which isn’t bad for a small nation. Long may it continue.

Enjoy the season.