I started playing rugby when I was seven years old. I played on several teams in Sydney, Australia. Through my high school years I captained the team and we were undefeated several times. I’ve also played on many losing teams. Both great learning experiences. I found Rugby an incredible way to understand myself and those around me, and how to really be in a team and be selfless, and how to appreciate rules and regulations while trying to push the edge of them at the same time.
Refereeing came to me from a mentor when I was 14 and I loved really understanding the game from the intention behind which it was created. Refereeing is an incredible opportunity to really be in one’s personal power while also being humble, guiding and coaching and also teaching the Laws of Rugby. My favorite referee is Nigel Owens. You can watch some of his funniest moments here. To learn more about becoming a rugby referee check out the Northern California Rugby Referee Society.
My son also played rugby for many years and enjoyed the game for his own reasons. It’s been a pleasure to coach him and guide him, as well as other young men and learning about Rugby and team sport. I refereed for his rugby league, Lamorinda Rugby, a great youth rugby program.
At its essence rugby continually offers a contest at nearly every interaction, for both sides. This ongoing contest for the ball, for possession, for territory, for dominance is an incredibly poetic side of rugby. Continuity is another important concept for referees to understand. How to keep the flow of the game going and not use your whistle or understanding of the laws to get in the way of people having an enjoyable experience. Underneath this is understanding materiality. When infringements happen are they really material, do they really matter? In American football letter of the law rules. In rugby the law is interpreted by the referee based on their understanding of the laws and watching the material. This allows the game to flow, to breathe and for people to have a really enjoyable experience playing the game.
Rugby is not a contact sport. It’s a collision sport, so understanding how to collide in ways that are “safer” is really important in understanding how to play the game well. This also allows people to minimize injuries. Here are some great rugby tackles from the Rugby World Cup 2019.
A great place to follow local rugby is on the Rugby Nor Cal website.