Dave Smortchevsky - Referee
Level 1 Officiating Course - Victoria, BC: Jan 14 & 16
from Bruce Kuklinski
posted Dec 18 2010
Date: Friday January 14th, 2011 6pm to 9pm & Sunday January 16th, 2011 9am to 3pm
Site: St. Michaels University School - Middle School, 3400 Richmond Rd, Victoria BC, V8P 4P5
Cost: $65 + hst (Total $72.80 cheques payable to BCRU)
- covers: course, print materials, Rugby Canada fee
Course conductor: Bruce Kuklinski
As a prerequisite to attending the Level 1 course, all registrants must complete the online IRB Law test (http://www.irblaws.com) and the online IRB Rugby Ready Course (http://www.irbrugbyready.com). All registrants must bring their online IRB certificates to the Level 1 course in order to be able to attend. Should registrants not have completed these IRB online courses prior to the end of the Level 1 course, they will not get credit for Level 1 refereeing until copy of online certificates are sent to the course conductor.
All registrants must pre-register prior to end of day on Monday January 10th directly through the BC Rugby Office by contacting Laura MacKay (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at 604-737-3071.
An Argentinean Referee Reflects on Life Behind the Whistle
posted March 22 2010
This was sent to me from a local BC referee via Luis Arola in Argentina who used to referee in BC several years ago. It was originally written in Spanish and translated. Original credit to Cristian Bialoskurski , Unión Cordobesa de Rugby referee, Argentina. As the local refereee mentioned in his forwarding email, it does have a bit of the Argentinean flare for the dramatic but contains some truths worth sharing.
I wonder if they know...
After last weekend, when I was watching a fellow referee, I felt weird and upset listening to the nonsense of some people about my colleague. Then, I have realized all the details those people don’t know about being a referee, so I wonder if they know ...
I wonder if they know… the feeling and happiness when you are notified of your first “official” appointment
I wonder if they know… how excited you are when you arrive to the first official appointment match
I wonder if they know… the loneliness you feel and what is happening in your head before the game.
I wonder if they know… the feeling at half time, when we are thirsty and nobody offers you water.
I wonder if they know… the loneliness we feel when we blow the end of the game whistle, and nobody invites you to the after game or shakes your hand.
I wonder if they know… how powerless and shamed a rookie referee feels when it’s chase for a coach, parent, spectator, etc… asking (shouting, screaming) for some clarification of a call made, when they think it was wrong and against them.
I wonder if they know… how hard and brave you need to be to go to the next game after you had a bad one.
I wonder if they know… sometimes after your game you have to go to another one to do TJ.
I wonder if they know...you couldn’t stay late and go out with your girlfriend/wife because a 10am school game the next morning.
I wonder if they know… while they verbally abuse you or make fun of you… you have invited your girlfriend or parents to the game, and they are listening.
I wonder if they know… I stopped asking my family to come to games when I am refereeing because of the bad moments with the same idiots.
I wonder if they know… you stopped playing but you are still feeling it as a player.
I wonder if they know… sometimes you dream you are playing rugby.
I wonder if they know… the feeling after a good few years of studying the game, yes studying, you achieve to refereeing premier division matches.
I wonder if they know… you have been mentally and physically preparing yourself all week for that game.
I wonder if they know… the feelings of the adrenaline running in your body before each game.
I wonder if they know… I pray that the players have an injury free game.
I wonder if they know… how I enjoy a good tackle, a good scrum, a well made try when I am on the field, putting a smile on my face.
I wonder if they know… how much I respect each player on and off the field.
I wonder if they know… when you made the wrong call, you have to mentally fight to keep it cool and move on.
I wonder if they know… the team effort put between TJs and referee, trusting each other like mates, even when you meet each other just before the game.
I wonder if they know… how proud it makes me to wear the UNIÓN CORDOBESA DE RUGBY referee top.
I wonder if they know… how many family and friends parties and meetings I missed to go to referee a game.
I wonder if they know… I don’t live from the rugby, I live for the rugby.
I wonder if they know… I grew up on a rugby field, and now I am almost 40, I don’t like the idea of packing it in, which is getting closer every day.
I wonder if they know… the idea to stop refereeing brings tears to my eyes.
I wonder if they know… when I retire as a referee… I ask myself: What am I going to do with my weekends?
I wonder if they know… how much I love this sport.
I wonder if knowing all those referees feelings, something would change??
CANADIAN REFEREE RECOGNISED BY IRB
from Trevor Arnold
posted Oct 1 2009
The IRB Referee Manager, Paddy O’Brien, and the IRB Referee Selectors have recognised Vancouver referee, David Smortchevsky by appointing him to an International Test that also serves as a Rugby World Cup Qualifier and four Tournaments in the 2009-2010 IRB Sevens World Series.
“These are prestigious appointments that recognise the hard work and dedication that David has put into his referee development” stated Rugby Canada’s Director of Rugby and Referee Development Manager, Trevor Arnold. Arnold went on to say “it displays that Canadian referees are now recognised on the world stage and indicates to others that there is a new route for individuals to travel in order to reach the top of the IRB international totem pole: the journey is now no longer only available to players”.
Smortchevsky will referee the Uruguay v USA World Cup Qualifier in Florida in November of this year as well as referee at the Adelaide, Hong Kong, London and Edinburgh Sevens in 2010.
These appointments are a direct result of his performances in the final of last year’s NA4 Tournament and his performances earlier this year at the Nations Cup in Romania. At these events he was reviewed by IRB Referee Performance Reviewers Paul Bridgman from the RFU, David McHugh (IRFU) and Patrick Robin from France. He impressed the reviewer on every occasion and has now reaped his rewards.
David Pue Looks at the New Line-out Laws
by David Pue
posted Sept 26 2009
The new line-out Laws are a mix of ELVs and old Laws (pre-ELVs) and they will have an effect on the a couple of team’s favourite plays.
The newest Laws of the Game state:
- that there must be a minimum of 2 players from each team in the actual line of players along the line of touch. (really old Law)
- players not in the line-out must be 10m back (really old Law)
- The maximum number of players in the line-out is decided by the team throwing the ball in. The non-throwing can match this number or have fewer players but not more. (old Law)
- They require that the non-throwing team place a player between the touch line and the 5m line and that this player must be 2m from the line of touch and 2 m from the 5m line. (from ELVs)
- They also require that the receiver must be 2m from the lineout until the line-out begins. (from ELVs)
(Note: there doesn’t have to be a receiver for either team and the defenders can have a receiver even if the attackers do not.)
- players may bind onto their jumper before the ball is thrown (from ELVs)
- it is less likely that teams will overload forwards into the line-out or out in the backs as South Africa did with a 3 man attacking line-out against 7 All Blacks. Even during the time of the ELVs few teams risked having unbalanced numbers in their line-outs.
- players being able to pre-bind is just Law that catches up with what everyone was doing (illegally) anyway
- the defensive player standing between the line of touch and the 5m line can no longer boost the front player in their line-out … unless they have arms long enough to reach the 2m they must be from the 5m line. Many teams put their #9 in this position.
- the player in the receiver’s position can no longer run into the line-out and be boosted to catch the ball. This play is not outlawed but in practical terms is not possible. The receiver must be 2m from the line-out until the line-out begins… which is when the ball leaves the thrower’s hands. There just won’t be enough time for the receiver to move in, be bound onto and boosted before the ball sails over his head.
Can the receiver be switched into the line-out? Yes, if someone moves out to take the receiver’s position. This would have to happen before the ball is thrown. Otherwise the player could be thought of as coming to the line-out late. [Law 19.8 (d)]
All of this new Law seems to re-enforce the concept of a fair contest for the ball… if the ball is thrown in straight (But let’s not go there!)
Speaking of throwing in straight, when taking a quick throw-in the player doesn’t have to throw the ball in straight…just not forward… ie. it can go toward their own goal line. All of the other Laws about the quick throw-in haven’t changed
David Pue Looks at The New Laws
by David Pue
posted August 1 2009
After more than a year of experimentation with the Laws of the Game, last May the IRB made a final decision about the integration of the ELV’s into the Laws of the Game. As of May 23rd (just in time for the Canada vs Ireland test), there is a unified set of Laws for the whole world. Some competitions played the existing Laws to finish off their season (ie. Super 14) but all of the new competitions will use the new Laws…. ie. America’s Rugby Cup, Lions Tour of South Africa and the Canadian provincial leagues.
So what’s new in the Laws?
If the people patrolling the sidelines with flags in their hands are certified referees, then they will be Assistant Referees (if they are not certified then they are Touch Judges). RAs will be responsible for the usual sorts of decisions: is the ball in touch? or did the ball travel over the crossbar? (These are the only decisions that TJs will be responsible for). RAs will also be able to give the referee advice on any incident that the referee asks about… foul play, knock-ons, straight throws, etc.
The flag and post located where the goal line and touch lines meet is no longer touch-in-goal So the winger can score a try in the corner even though they bump into the flag/pole… as long as they don’t contact the ground in touch before they get the ball down.
Everyone not in a scrum (ie the backs) must be 5m back from the hindmost foot of those in the scrum…. usually the #8. If the scrum moves up or down the field the backs have to move too.
The defending #9 has a couple of options when the scrum forms. They can either join the backs (ie stay 5m back from the scrum) or they can be close to the scrum (the usual position). Once the ball is put in (and won by the attacking team) the defending #9 can follow the ball as it moves toward the attacking #8 (what most #9 usually do) OR they can move back to their offside line …. a line at the hindmost foot in their half of the scrum. Once at their offside line they can slide either way across the pitch but can’t step in front of the off-side line until the ball is out.
If the ball is moved by the attacking team across the defenders 22m and the defenders gain possession (usually the attackers kick it in) the defenders are free to kick the ball directly into touch and have the line out where the ball goes into touch. The defenders have the same privileges if the play starts with a scrum or lineout inside their 22m zone.
If the ball is moved across the defender’s 22m by a defending player and the ball is then kicked directly into the touch by a defending player, the resulting lineout will take place opposite where the ball was kicked. Notice that if the ball crosses into the 22m because of being won in a scrum or lineout just outside the 22m, the defenders are considered to have brought the ball into the 22m. Also if the mark for a penalty is outside the 22m and a defender steps back into their 22m to make the kick, they have brought the ball into the 22m zone…. result if the ball goes directly into touch? Lineout opposite where the kick was taken. If a tackle, ruck or maul happens after a defender brings the ball into their own 22m. the ball can be kicked directly into touch with the lineout where the ball crosses the touch line.
At a lineout the non-throwing team must have a player between the touch line and the 5m line, This person must stay 2m from the 5m line. The receiver (if there is one) for either side must be 2m from the lineout.
The team throwing the ball into the lineout sets the maximum number of players that can be in the lineout. The defenders must either match that number or have fewer players in the lineout. All of the old requirements about leaving or coming to the lineout are in effect again.
About the same time as these “new “ laws came into effect, the Designated Members of the Rugby Committee of the iRB made a law ruling about players’ actions at a tackle as it becomes a ruck.
The scenario is this: a tackle is made and the ball carrier and tackler(s) are on the ground. A player (attacker or defender) is the first to arrive at the tackle legally (ie. through the gate, on their feet, etc) and tries to pick up the ball. As this 1st player gets the ball “in their hands”, an opposition player (again legally) binds onto them.
This now creates a ruck and in the past this 1st player was required to take their hands off the ball. But in their ruling the D.M. of the R.C. have said that this 1st player may continue to play the ball with their hands. This ruling does NOT apply to other players who arrive later…. they may not use their hands in the ruck. Of course once any of the players at the ruck go off their feet then they must not handle the ball at all.
The tough part of this ruling for referees is identifying the 1st player to the tackle and deciding if they have rights to keep their hands on the ball. Referees will have to delay saying “hands away” until they are sure that none of the players have rights to keep their hands on the ball.
If the 1st player at tackle is able to pick the ball up off the ground before they come in contact with other players then they will probably form a maul and players may grapple for the ball.
We’ll have to see how these new Laws and this ruling will affect the game over the next season and until the Laws are “set in stone” one year before the next World Cup.
Laws, Policies, Protocols and Rulings
by David Pue
posted June 9 2009
We’re all used to fact that the playing of rugby is governed by the Laws of the Game… they tell us the do’s and don’ts for clubs, players, and officials.
What are less understood (outside of the Referee fraternity) are the other documents that control the playing the game. The IRB (and for that matter Rugby Canada) from time to time issues rulings and policy statements that direct the game. Some of these remind officials and players that they must follow the laws while others clarify what a particular law means.
Every once in a while, a national Union will ask the IRB to decide how the Laws of the Game apply in specific areas. They write up a scenario (usually stating, the Law says..., but what if... happens?) and ask for an interpretation.
The IRB has a group called the “Designated Members of the Rugby Committee”. These people meet and ponder the Law and how it might apply to the situation described in the question. Some of the situations are technical (ie requirements to have replacement players on the bench) while others are very basic to the playing of the game. After thoughtful considerations (though some cynics think they deliberate over pints in a Dublin pub) the committee gives their ruling on the question they were asked. These rulings have the weight of Law.
The rulings can be seen on IRB.com under Laws and Regulations. Most have thoughtful responses with much reference to the Laws while others are more succinct (check out ruling # 1 from 2005 concerning rucks)
As an example, here is the latest ruling:
Date: May 11, 2009
Ruling: 4: 2009
Ruling Request from the NZRU and ARU Law 15 and 16
Law 15 6 (b) states: After a tackle any players on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carriers possession.
Law 16.1 (b) states: How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.
Law 16.4 (b) states: (b) Players must not handle the ball in a ruck.
When a player has complied with Law 15 6 (b), is on his feet and playing the ball after a tackle and is then joined by an opposition player on his feet so that the situation outlined in 16.1 (b) occurs, can the player who has complied with Law 15.6 (b) continue to play the ball with his hands or at what point does he have to release the ball?
This does not appear to be covered by Law.
Law 15.6 (a) states: After a tackle, all other players must be on their feet when they play the ball.
Law 15.6 (b) reads: After a tackle any player on their feet may attempt to gain possession by taking the ball from the ball carrier’s possession.
Law 15.5 (e) states that: If opposition players who are on their feet, the tackled player must release the ball.
This indicates that after a tackle a player on his feet may play the ball.
Law 16 1 (b) states: How can a ruck form? Players are on their feet. At least one
player must be in physical contact with an opponent. The ball is on the ground.
Law 16.1 refers to a player from each side in physical contact over the ball and implies that the ball is not in the possession of any player.
Providing a player from either side on their feet after a tackle comply with all aspects of Law 15 and have the ball in their hands prior to contact with an opposition player on his feet those players may continue with possession of the ball even if a player from the opposition makes contact with those players in possession of the ball.
Any other players joining the two players contesting the ball must not handle the ball in accordance with Law 16.4 (b). If the ball is not in possession of any player after a tackle and a ruck is formed players may not use their hands in accordance with Law 16.4 (b).
As you can see this ruling attempts to clarify the rights and privileges of players to contest the ball with their hands after a tackle. It does this by expressing the implied meaning of the Law and linking different sections of the Law.
The second major documents that affect the game are policy directives that come out of the IRB. Here is part of a policy directive from last year that had far reaching implications for the game.
Date: May 16, 2008
Re: IRB Council Decision – Match Protocols / Policy Areas
Council at its Annual Meeting 2008 agreed on the following match protocols / policy areas.
Council confirmed that match officials MUST referee the tackle (Law 15) and Ruck (Law 16) in accordance with the written Laws.
Law 15 Tackle
It has become evident that players are going to ground over or on ball carriers which has become known as sealing off. On some occasions they remain in that position and fail to move away contravening Law.
Referees are requested to be more vigilant in this area of the Game and to ensure that both teams are treated equally at the breakdown.
Law 16 Ruck
It has become common practice for players to move the ball from rucks using their hands and to pick the ball up in a ruck to form a maul.
Law 16.4 (b) is to be refereed at all times and applied to both the attacking and defending teams.
Law 20 Scrum Throw In
The Laws Project Group scrum working party met recently in London and discussion took place on the continual non compliance of scrum halves to feed the ball into the centre of the tunnel. Law 20.6 (d)
Council endorsed a protocol whereby from June 1, 2008 onwards at the awarding of each scrum and prior to having the front rows go through the engagement procedure the referee is to remind the scrum half of his obligations and then ensure that he is positioned in the middle and standing square to the scrum prior to the feed.
This sort of directive from the iRB does not change the Law but does remind players and referees of their obligations to follow the Law.
The directive on the ruck has meant that players are now staying on their feet more and driving over the ball rather than stopping at the ball and moving it back with their hand.
The older readers will remember the other directives (some from the 1800’s) that instructed the scrum halves to put the ball in straight. Hopefully this iRB directive will cause them to clean up their act.
Set Your Reminder: Dave Smortchevsky Reffing Romania v Uruguay on June 12th on Setanta Sports
from Bruce Kuklinski
posted June 1 2009
Canada ref Dave Smortchevsky is reffing at the Nations Cup in Romania starting Fri June 12th. These games, including Dave's can be seen on Setanta Sports (Shaw 154). Dave's game Uruguay vs Romania is on 10am Fri the 12th with other Nations Cup games the day before.
How do referees get appointed to games?
by David Pue
posted Apr 28 2009
In the past few weeks I have received questions and opinions about the choices of the referees officiating in the play-offs. You can start a lively discussion over a pint by asking any of the clubs which referee they would rather have officiate their games. Ask both clubs and you will quickly reach a stalemate. Almost like asking who the starting 15 should be for Canada.
During the season, the appointment of referees is done by an elected member of the executive of the local referee society. (This season it was Bruce Kuklinski on the Island and me in Vancouver/Fraser Valley). For the BCRU Spring Play-offs the appointments are done by an elected member of the executive of the BCRRS (this season, that is me). Though it is their decision to make, the allocators make use of input from the societies’ executive and referee coaches when making their decisions.
The process of allocating the referees is not an exact science and certainly not simple. There are no hard and fast policies that can be applied… there are too many variables.
The allocators work from a series of principles. They all apply in an attempt to put the right referee in the right game! Here a few of the principles we use:
- The referee's appointed game should match his grade and performance.
The top level games are done by top graded referees. From the coaching reports the allocator gets a picture of the referees’ skills and performance. In general good performance = a playoff game.
- The referee's who officiated in a particular league all season should do games in that league's playoffs.
Also known as the "dance with you brought you" principle. The referees from the pool who did the regular season Premier games are asked to referee the Premier league's playoffs and those that did Div 3 games will referee the Div 3 playoffs. The referees are familiar with the style of play and the way the Laws of the Game are applied in each division.
- As many different referees as possible need to be involved in the playoffs.
Referees too have slogged through the February mud and deserve games in the sun. These games are rewards to referees for their hard work. Some say that we should only use the top 10 referees for all of the playoff games… use nothing but the A/B graded referees. That does nothing to keep the good journeyman referee or “up-and-comer” wanting to referee.
- Referees do not referee 2 games in the same league's playoffs.
So the person doing the Premier final will not have done any of the Premier League preliminary games. The referees cross over during the preliminary rounds… ie a game in the Div 1 league and a game in the CDI Premier. This creates a fresh perspective in every game... for the teams and the referees.
- Referees need to be available and healthy.
This seems trite but many of the play-off appointments are shifted around because particular referees have other commitments (work or family) or have injuries.
Note: none of the principals involves the club affiliation of the referee. Virtually all referees have an affiliation with a BC Rugby Club because most referees are ex-players. While some referees do find it hard to officiate their old clubs (some ask not to be put into that situation) for the vast majority it is not an issue.
The appointment of referees is not something that is done quickly or lightly. It takes some time to work through possibilities to come up with best combinations. The appointments were done weeks before the playoffs began and then were modified when the schedule was complicated by games ending up in unexpected venues, having kick off times changed or being forfeit or cancelled. Across “the Strait” travel was also taken into consideration. In a number of cases we went from plan A to plan B, C or D.
The bottom line is that I believe that appropriate referees are in the games where they are needed.
The Art of Refereeing: When The Whistle Blows
by David Pue
posted March 31 2009
What happens when the referee blows their whistle?
According to the Laws of the Game, the players are to stop playing… there are a couple of obvious exceptions: at a kick off, after a successful kick at goal or when play starts after a time out.
Why stop playing? The referee may have seen an infringement of the Laws, the ball is in touch or is unplayable at the bottom of a ruck/maul.
The end result is that the ball is “out of play” until play is restarted by penalty kick, free kick, line-out or scrum. Surprisingly enough the ball is out of play a lot during a game. In the 2008 Six Nations the ball was in play an average of 50% of the 80 minutes… ranging in the 15 games from 43% to 58% (the latter was the highest ever recorded). What it would be in a local game is anyone’s guess !
What are players/referees doing when the ball is out of play?
Referees are coached to use this time to talk to the players about what is happening in the game and their expectations for the players. They might tell a player that they were offside but not penalized because of advantage, remind props to get their binding up, remind the #9 to put the ball in straighter, etc. Sometimes they just check that things are going OK… ie. are the front rows happy about what’s going on at scrum time?
A lot of the time for the players, is used getting ready for the restart of play ie. moving to the line-out mark, binding up for the scrum or waiting for the kicker to get the tee, have a sip of water, test the wind and line up for their kick at goal. Of course, some of this time is used to get their breath and recover from the exertions of the game… hence the regal image of a prop, bent over with hands on knees, panting like a thoroughbred racehorse!!
The IRB has done much lately to reduce the down time in Rugby. They have made it easier to throw the ball in at a quick line-out. In the Southern Hemisphere they have adopted ELVs that replace the full penalty kicks for many offenses to free kicks… hoping that these would be taken quickly. This is not new. Penalty kicks and free kicks have always been allowed immediately the whistle is blown and the mark given (the referee doesn’t have to actually make the mark… just indicate where it is).
There is another action some players take when the ball is out of play. Some respond to the whistle by complaining about it. I am sure that you too have seen players yell, curse, wave their arms or even run many metres to get in the referee’s ear.
To these players, I ask, “Why do that?” The referee cannot change their decision (with a few minor exceptions). Wouldn’t your time be better spent on your primary focus: either deciding how to stop your opponent or advance the ball after play re-starts? Is the loss of focus to you and your team worth the venting at the referee? Do you really think that your rant now, will get you the next call? Wouldn’t it be better if your first response to the whistle was “How do we deal with this?” rather than “Why?”. I have watched coaches who understand this concept and referee their team’s games of “buggers” making obviously bad calls. They look for the players who adapt quickly… in defense or attack.
I am not saying that referees are to be free from accountability for their decisions! Referees must be open to “fair comment”. They must be able to justify their calls, explain how they saw the events or apologize for their “brain cramps”.
The question is - when and how should players or coaches approach referees?
Anytime in a personal, confrontational or angry way is flat out wrong! Would a player or coach rant on a teammate for poor play and actually expect that player to improve or even come back next game?
After the game, after the showers and over a pint is usually a good time. Referees are encouraged to go to the clubrooms after the game and make themselves available for such discussions.
Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing in Law to say that, during games, team captains have a right to the referee’s ear. However, referees are encouraged to talk to captains and through them to the teams. Captains are the on-field leaders of their teams. Good rapport between the captains and referee can have a great effect on the game. The captains need to influence their players and get compliance with the referee’s decisions, if they do then the referee is much more likely to listen to a their concerns. This sort of discussion only takes place when time allows; ie. when the ball is out of play. The referee will not slow down play so a captain can get an explanation of a call.
The Referees’ Societies have a number of people trained to be “Match Official Coaches”. It is their job to watch and work with the referees to improve their performance. Approaching the referee coach with fair comment is welcomed.
The Referee Society Executives have always encouraged e-mails from coaches with comments/concerns on referee’s performances (we have suggested sending the e-mail Sunday rather than Saturday evening!!). Some coaches have sent in video clips or discs of whole games. Some have attended Referee Society meetings and expressed their views.
Despite the natural “Us against Them” relationship between players/coaches and referees, there should be the core desire in everyone to make the game the best it can be. Fair and open communication is the primary way to achieve this goal.
Behind the Ropes: In the last few weeks there have been incidents...
[ed. you can contact David Pue at email@example.com]
by David Pue
posted March 23 2009
In the last few weeks there have been incidents involving the sideline ropes at games… incidents ranging from irritating to down right nasty.
The BCRU Rules of Competition (Section 15.5) requires ropes at ALL games (this can be waived by the referee if the ropes are obviously not needed… ie few spectators). The RoC also state that the only club people to be inside the ropes are 2 first-aid peo