Sheffield Rugby Referees Society
The role of the referees is an important one to the development of the game. They ensure the safety of players, enjoyment of all involved and guide players and spectators through the laws at varying times.
Sheffield RUFC has a very active mini/midi/youth section with excellent parental support, many of whom become involved in coaching/helping/officiating.
Acknowleding that we owe our children the best duty of care. We wanted to recognise the efforts of those willing to officiate matches, supporting their development and encouraging more to take up the whistle.
With the support of the RFU, we therefore set up the Referee Development Scheme in Sheffield.
The initial aims of the scheme were to:-
a)encourage more people into refereeing
b)improve the standards on offer by encouraging on-going development
c)give aspiring referees help and support if they wished to progress to the Yorkshire Referees Society and higher levels
Neal Edwards, a member of the South Yorkshire Referee Society. attended the Referee Development course at Warwick University in the Summer. With the support and encouragement of Will Halford, RFU development officer for the North of England, the development of Sheffield Referees Society was commenced in September 2008.
A 2 year plan was put into place with the aim of ensuring that no Junior/Mini match was to take place within Sheffield RUFC unless refereed by someone who had done the ELRA course through at least stage 2.
Links were also established with Students at the two local Universities. Students and Club members were encouraged to attend an ELRA course at the beginning of the season.
Initially it was felt appropriate to concentrate on U13, U14 and U15 levels. Sponsorship was obtained locally from Pain Management Solutions Ltd. This funded a uniform set of kit, which the parents of the children recognise and acknowledge.
The Sheffield Referees Society has now established a small panel of referees to officiate all the home games played at these levels. This panel consists of parents and students, male and female. The majority of the referees had no previous experience. They fully are supported by the coaching teams and watched and given encouragement by more experienced local referees.
Referees are appointed to the games by an Appointments Officer and games are confirmed with the referees 5 days prior to each game.
Particularly pleasing has been the involvement of local students. They all play for the University on the Saturday but are prepared to give up time on Sundays to give something back to the local club. This has strngthened the link between the 2 Rugby organisations.
From a small acorn trees will grow. With greater recognition from parents of the small panel of referees we have established, more parents within the club are now showing enthusiasm to referee, and further ELRA courses are planned.
The aim is now to extend the scheme throughout the entire Junior/Mini section.