Monday 8 July 2013

Ref Report: Greystones 7's

A Guest post from Cillian Hogan

Up to this weekend just gone, I had never attended a sevens event in any capacity and I was delighted to receive an invite to referee in the inaugural Greystones 7's. I was very keen to test myself in the shortened version of our game and jumped at the opportunity.

Tournament KO was penned in for 1:30. With the third and final Lions test starting at 11:05 it became a very easy decision to watch the match in Greystones' clubhouse. I arrived at 10:45 and proceeded to watch an appropriate amount of match build up while meeting with and chatting to many familiar faces from around the province. Despite one or two technical issues with the projector during the opening minutes we all got to see the match until the result was beyond doubt.

With five or so minutes left in the Lions game we (the referees) left to get changed and then met up with the ref coordinator where our tournament jerseys were handed out and we were split into teams of three to look after the three pitches the matches were to be played on. There were two pitches for eight mens teams (one pitch for each group of four) and one pitch for the women. I was placed on pitch one in front of the clubhouse. We then had a brief chat about the sevens specific laws, the need for accuracy at the breakdown and we were then told who'd be in the middle for the first matches.

I had hoped for a gentle ease into the day but I got the nod and was up first for the game between pre-tournament favourites The Wild Geese and UCD. Having never had proper touch judges before I felt compelled to have a bit of a prematch brief stating the usual instructions that I had been told when running the line for Ulster Bank League games. "Your primary job is to rule on matters of touch and touch in-goal” and “if there's any foul play put out your flag and I'll lead the chat at the next break but keep up with play as touch is still your primary task." I also added that as this was my first time with touchies I'd probably forget about them so if they had anything for me just shout. The game itself went off without a hitch despite both teams wearing blue, with The Wild Geese winning reasonably comfortably while UCD acquitted themselves very well. I was blowing hard enough at half time and the instructions from my touch judges were to watch the offsides during set piece. I felt much better at full time having got over the initial shock from the pace of the game. I submitted the match score card to the pitch coordinator and we were on to next match.

For the next few games I ran the line which was enjoyable being able to primarily watch the action with a few sprints intermittently down the sideline. A bad injury on the women's pitch (which required an ambulance) allowed us to take our time with the schedule as we were aiming for the playoffs of both the men's and women's tournaments to be played in order on pitch one. The heat was a bigger factor during the day than I had anticipated and Greystones were great at providing a hydration station for the officials stocked with plenty of water and red bull.

There was plenty of chopping and changing with who was doing which match during the course for the day but my next game in the middle was between The Wild Geese and Trinity. I was feeling physically comfortable in this game at half time and received some small positional advice from my touch judges. The game at this stage was very close with Trinity playing very well if relying a little heavily on individual efforts, while The Wild Geese we poor in the first half by their standards. The second half was going fine with The Geese scoring a good few tries but about halfway in I had a pretty bad blunder. The Geese were in possession when I had got in the way of play and like most times when a ref gets into a spot of bother it usually gets worse. I tried to get out of the way by sprinting through a gap in Trinity's defense but this just allowed the ball carrier to follow me through before he got a pass away. At that stage my back was to the ball and I was unable to see it. The Geese then got the ball wider still and were in. Thankfully I blew it up as my own mistake, apologised to both teams and restarted with a scrum to the team in possession. I was annoyed with myself for the big error but knew there was no point dwelling on it. Neither team had been disadvantaged by it once I’d called it back but it never looks good and gives the impression of incompetence.

We had a break after this match as the group stages were over and this gave us a chance for a burger, to rehydrate and a rest. Some would say the rest was needed but I felt it was an opportunity to seize up and that's just what happened. My own liquids intake for the day had been poorly managed and when it came to restarting with the finals I found it quite hard to get loose and going again.

I was given the second semi-final of the cup in the knockout stages which was personally very pleasing and I felt rewarded for what I thought had been a strong day overall from me with the whistle. The match was between two of Greystones' entries. One side was made up of their U21s squad while the other was consisted of senior players. The game started with a very quick pace to it which benefited the younger lads as they scored a terrifically finished try in the early minutes. While attacking on the left hand side of the pitch they kicked deep into the 22. The defensive player was shepherding the ball over the try-line for a 22 dropout when the chasing player managed to dive and stretch, beating the defender to the grounding. It happened in a flash and I can safely say that had I been a bit lazy and not chased the kick hard myself, I would not have been able to make the call. The young lads built their scores early and it wasn't until the second half that the senior team were able to get back into the game. This was my best game of the day. The Greystones U21 team won the match and continued onto the final.

The day itself was a great occasion to be part of. A lot of stalls were in Dr. Hickey Park selling sweets and cakes etc. There were bouncing castles (for children), there was music played on the PA system and we were fortunate to get the weather that we did. I'd like to thank the organisers and volunteers form Greystones RFC for running a great event, for giving the referees their full support throughout the day and making sure we wanted for nothing.

Congratulations to Railway (women’s plate winners) Blackrock (women's cup winners), Trinity (men's plate winners) and The Wild Geese (men's cup winners)

While this was my first sevens tournament I certainly hope it's not my last.

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