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Referees in-game coaching i.e. their constant commands

Brandon2k

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Something that has become too much of a norm these days is the persistent coaching of players by referees in top level games/tests. The constant screams of 'use it', 'roll away', 'hands away', 'stay there', 'don't move', 'ruck', 'maul', 'get onside', 'stay on your feet' 'tackle', is actually becoming quite patronising. and there really is no place for it. It doesn't happen in any other sport that I can think of. Imagine a football referee saying something like 'if you kick that ball now your mate is offside' or 'don't tackle him from behind or I will book you' or 'keep your hands down or the ball might hit them'!
The top rugby players in the world should know one thing for absolutely sure. The laws of the game. Yet the referees treat them like they don't (perhaps they really don't know). The laws are very complicated (too complicated perhaps) but they should know the fundamentals off by heart at least.
By screaming out the above commands (and more) throughout a game is dictating the play. Players are old enough and wise enough to know what a ruck is; what a maul is; when they are offside; when they should not touch the ball. So why do referees constantly have to remind them of this?
In days of yore referees never spoke during games other than to state what a whistle was blown for (if this couldn't be illustrated by arm movements) or to reprimand a player.
My guess is they believe that a game will fall into disrepair without such 'expert' guidance. And it might very well do because the players have been molly-coddled in this way and got used to it. And it has spurned unsporting behaviour. Players now play to the referee knowing that they will get a verbal warning if they stray to close to the edge, so they work him again and again until enforcement action is taken then they back off a little; let the heat wear off then start chipping away at him again. Its not a bonny sight to watch and it has also encouraged players acting like footballers waving imaginary cards about and pointing at their perceptions of infringements in rucks and tackles among other things rather than following that good old maxim 'play to the whistle'.
I am of the opinion that if referees kept their mouths shut and their thoughts to themselves) that it would only take 4 or 5 games at the start of a season before all the players actually played rugby and not the referee. It would encourage them to make their own decisions (knowing for example they had 5 seconds once a maul stops moving before they must play the ball or they would lose possession). Yes am sure the penalty count would be disproportionately high during these initial games but it would come down naturally, the ball would be in play for longer and all for the greater good of the game.

It would be interesting to hear other people's opinions on this.
 

Kiwiwomble

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but Terms like "use it", "tackle" and "maul" are in the rules as thing the Ref needs to identify

Personally i would rather have some chat from a ref than constand penalties, if hearing "hands off" or the like is the price we have to pay to not have countless penalties im fine with it
 

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The referees must call out to players, as the players have split seconds at times to make a decision. By calling out ruck, players know they aren't allowed to try and steal the ball, the players are looking at the ball, not the opposition, and can't always see who has joined the tackle area.

I prefer referees being vocal and giving feedback above referees not saying anything. Bryce Lawrence is an example of what happens when a ref doesn't say much and allow anarchy to happen on the pitch.

Rugby isn't like other sports, so I wouldn't even dare to try and compare it.
 

Brandon2k

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but Terms like "use it", "tackle" and "maul" are in the rules as thing the Ref needs to identify

Personally i would rather have some chat from a ref than constand penalties, if hearing "hands off" or the like is the price we have to pay to not have countless penalties im fine with it
My thoughts are that if the ref doesnt shout 'hands off' for example then it wont take long for the players to know what's right and wrong and what they can and cant do without being penalised; and there wouldn't be constant penalties as a result but a proper game whose direction isnt being dictated to. It would be interesting to see it develop in this way.
 

Brandon2k

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The referees must call out to players, as the players have split seconds at times to make a decision. By calling out ruck, players know they aren't allowed to try and steal the ball, the players are looking at the ball, not the opposition, and can't always see who has joined the tackle area.

I prefer referees being vocal and giving feedback above referees not saying anything. Bryce Lawrence is an example of what happens when a ref doesn't say much and allow anarchy to happen on the pitch.

Rugby isn't like other sports, so I wouldn't even dare to try and compare it.
I am of the opinion that players should know when it's a ruck. It's not that difficult to tell. Nor is a maul or a tackle.
 

Old Hooker

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Interesting question.

In the Italian non ruck game a few years ago Poite was lauded for telling Hartley and Haskell “I’m a referee, not your coach”. An extreme example for sure, but basically saying that he was there to apply the laws of the game, not to problem solve for the players or ensure a ‘spectacle’.

Refs warning players about being offside etc is problem solving for them. Philosophically I don’t think that’s the referee’s role. The counter argument is the obvious one about keeping the game flowing, making it faster and more entertaining etc. But there are still plenty of ways that teams can engage with the ref during a game without the need for the running commentary on every play. As Kiwiwomble says the laws do require the refs to make certain calls during the game, but that’s a different matter.
 

Brandon2k

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Interesting question.

In the Italian non ruck game a few years ago Poite was lauded for telling Hartley and Haskell “I’m a referee, not your coach”. An extreme example for sure, but basically saying that he was there to apply the laws of the game, not to problem solve for the players or ensure a ‘spectacle’.

Refs warning players about being offside etc is problem solving for them. Philosophically I don’t think that’s the referee’s role. The counter argument is the obvious one about keeping the game flowing, making it faster and more entertaining etc. But there are still plenty of ways that teams can engage with the ref during a game without the need for the running commentary on every play. As Kiwiwomble says the laws do require the refs to make certain calls during the game, but that’s a different matter.
Being the tactical game that it is players should be thinking for themselves and Poite is a good example of an English team being clueless in the middle of a top international. The reason being they didn't appreciate fully the rules of the game. And because there was no one shouting 'Ruck' they were left wanting.
 

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I am of the opinion that players should know when it's a ruck. It's not that difficult to tell. Nor is a maul or a tackle.
Sometimes it is. When a player is the 2nd to arrive at a tackle, goes head down trying to get the ball from the tackled player, he won't know/see/focus on any other player joining in the tackled area. Nor would he know if it's an opposing player or one from his own team, or how many are in the ruck. For the sake of keeping the game flowing and not having a stop start affair, the referee warns through verbal communication, before giving advantage, and then penalising.

Pretty straight forward to me... No need to change this.
 

Brandon2k

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Sometimes it is. When a player is the 2nd to arrive at a tackle, goes head down trying to get the ball from the tackled player, he won't know/see/focus on any other player joining in the tackled area. Nor would he know if it's an opposing player or one from his own team, or how many are in the ruck. For the sake of keeping the game flowing and not having a stop start affair, the referee warns through verbal communication, before giving advantage, and then penalising.

Pretty straight forward to me... No need to change this
 

Brandon2k

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But it's the players responsibility via communications from his team to know what's going on around him the referee is there to officiate not to provide constant advice.
 

BPM

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I’m somewhere in between.

For example, I do find the extent to which players in the pro game can blatantly handle the ball on the floor when they are basically lying down completely crazy. They know they can’t win a turnover, they’re just slowing it down until the ref tells them to stop. That could and should be stamped out. If I did that in an amateur game, I’d be whistled off the park tout suite.

That’s very different to calling a ‘maul’ though ... let’s say it’s a choke tackle - it only becomes a maul if the player doesn’t get their knee to ground. If not it’s a tackle and the player needs to be released. It’s the referee’s job to spot which it is and communicate that to the players. If you’re the guy holding the player up, it might not be obvious to you whether they’ve got their knee to the ground or not and getting that information is critical given the consequence for getting it wrong is a turnover or possibly a penalty.

Same for rucks. The referee’s interpretation of a ruck being formed is not always consistent so he should communicate on it.
 

TRF_heineken

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But it's the players responsibility via communications from his team to know what's going on around him the referee is there to officiate not to provide constant advice.
Yes, but the players don't have the power to tell another player what he can and can't do. Hence the third-party.

If a referee stays quiet and just blows the whistle and have hand gestures, the game will be a lot poorer, and it will lose respect and the gentleman nature connected to it. I for one, would hate it if it becomes like soccer.
 

TRF_Olyy

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Sometimes it is. When a player is the 2nd to arrive at a tackle, goes head down trying to get the ball from the tackled player, he won't know/see/focus on any other player joining in the tackled area. Nor would he know if it's an opposing player or one from his own team, or how many are in the ruck. For the sake of keeping the game flowing and not having a stop start affair, the referee warns through verbal communication, before giving advantage, and then penalising.

Pretty straight forward to me... No need to change this.
Exactly this,

There's too much going on on the pitch that you can't see so referee intervention is needed

Of course it means players will bend the rules until they're told not to, but I'd rather that than literally every phase of play ending in a penalty
 

Brandon2k

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Yes, but the players don't have the power to tell another player what he can and can't do. Hence the third-party.

If a referee stays quiet and just blows the whistle and have hand gestures, the game will be a lot poorer, and it will lose respect and the gentleman nature connected to it. I for one, would hate it if it becomes like soccer.
In football though and to its credit the ref doesnt make it his business to tell a player he is offside and that if he interferes with play as a result he will give away a free kick. Staying onside is schoolboy stuff.
 

Brandon2k

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In football though and to its credit the ref doesnt make it his business to tell a player he is offside and that if he interferes with play as a result he will give away a free kick. Staying onside is schoolboy stuff.
Handling on the ground is an offence. We dont need the refs telling players not to handle it.
 

Which Tyler

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In football, the offside line is your position in relation to a real thing (the backmost opponent) - it's also rarely important when it's a matter of a foot or so.
In rugby, the offside line is your position in relation to an imaginary line Xm back from the hindmost involved player (interpretation as to who that is) - it's always important, a matter of a foot or so 80 times in a match is absolutely huge.

In football, it's absolute with no real confounders.
In rugby, it's interpretive with several steps of margin for error.

Basically, too much of the laws of rugby rely on interpretation (exactly where is the offside line? when is it a tackle or a maul? when is the ruck over? did I clearly release the ball carrier in the tackle?) and honest differences of opinion happen all the time. It's the ref's opinion that matters, but until humans develop the capacity to read each other's minds; the only way of knowing his interpretation is for him to tell you.

There are times when the ref really shouldn't need to say anything ("hold 5" when the FH has just kicked forward directly over the lock's head); but there are others where there's a genuine difference of opinion between player and ref (has the winger timed his run right when chasing a kick towards the corner?)
 

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In football, the offside line is your position in relation to a real thing (the backmost opponent) - it's also rarely important when it's a matter of a foot or so.
In rugby, the offside line is your position in relation to an imaginary line Xm back from the hindmost involved player (interpretation as to who that is) - it's always important, a matter of a foot or so 80 times in a match is absolutely huge.

In football, it's absolute with no real confounders.
In rugby, it's interpretive with several steps of margin for error.

Basically, too much of the laws of rugby rely on interpretation (exactly where is the offside line? when is it a tackle or a maul? when is the ruck over? did I clearly release the ball carrier in the tackle?) and honest differences of opinion happen all the time. It's the ref's opinion that matters, but until humans develop the capacity to read each other's minds; the only way of knowing his interpretation is for him to tell you.

There are times when the ref really shouldn't need to say anything ("hold 5" when the FH has just kicked forward directly over the lock's head); but there are others where there's a genuine difference of opinion between player and ref (has the winger timed his run right when chasing a kick towards the corner?)
This!

Plus, players can be offside and retreat, but still be in an offside position and an onside player can go past the offside player and make him onside again (when a kick is made for example).

We should really stop trying to compare apples with oranges here. There is no point to compare rugby with soccer.
 

Brandon2k

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Not comparing per se rugby with anything. It was an example that brought football into it. The fact is there are no other sports where the match official coaches the players and as a result has a bearing on what a player or players do or does next. Imaginea tennis umpire advising McEnroe to 'leave it' :)
 

Brandon2k

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In football, the offside line is your position in relation to a real thing (the backmost opponent) - it's also rarely important when it's a matter of a foot or so.
In rugby, the offside line is your position in relation to an imaginary line Xm back from the hindmost involved player (interpretation as to who that is) - it's always important, a matter of a foot or so 80 times in a match is absolutely huge.

In football, it's absolute with no real confounders.
In rugby, it's interpretive with several steps of margin for error.

Basically, too much of the laws of rugby rely on interpretation (exactly where is the offside line? when is it a tackle or a maul? when is the ruck over? did I clearly release the ball carrier in the tackle?) and honest differences of opinion happen all the time. It's the ref's opinion that matters, but until humans develop the capacity to read each other's minds; the only way of knowing his interpretation is for him to tell you.

There are times when the ref really shouldn't need to say anything ("hold 5" when the FH has just kicked forward directly over the lock's head); but there are others where there's a genuine difference of opinion between player and ref (has the winger timed his run right when chasing a kick towards the corner?)
Just a correction re offside in football. It is very important not just a foot or so but now it's a hairs breadth even a body part and you are offside. Its critical as it can wipe out a goal. And that spoils games and leads tempers to fray. But a referee is not going to advise a player in such a position that he is offside. That would be interfering with play.
 

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Only partly Devil’s Advocate, but why should the onus be on the ref? Players should know the rules and while there are plenty of grey areas, players can always ask a ref if it’s OK to complete for the ball etc. If they choose not to then they’re balancing risk / reward.

From a safety perspective it can’t be a bad thing if players have to stop and think for a split second before launching themselves missile like at something they may not be certain is a ruck. If the ref calls a ruck it’s countdown to launch.
 
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