Karl Dickson shares what it’s like in the spotlight preparing and reffing a Six Nations game - Ruck

Karl Dickson shares what it’s like in the spotlight preparing and reffing a Six Nations game

Karl Dickson will be opening the 2023 Guinness Six nations tournament on the 4th February. Along with our partners at ACME whistles, we caught up with Karl to find out about his preparation for the tournament and what the 24 hours before the game look like.

Karl starts by describing his timeline of preparation in the lead up to the first game of the tournament and said: “I’ll have already done some preparation around two weeks in advance of the tournament.

“I’m fortunate that my ARs – Angus, Luke and Tom – are all at the same camp the week leading up to the game so we will start those conversations immediately when we meet on the Sunday or Monday. Even if it’s just over dinner or a beer in the bar.

“In the following five days before the game I can ask questions about what we should do in a particular situation, share video clips and find out what is required of me or what would be particularly helpful for the TMO to do.

“Within the wider refereeing world and fraternity, we will talk fairly often but with people based all over the world, we might never have worked together before.

“So, at a tournament like the Six Nations, I might meet someone on a Friday in person and then go into the game having never worked with them in my life. You use that time at the camp to get to know each other better.

“Before we even get to the game we’re probably more prepared than we even need to be because we’ve had so many conversations around it.”

Karl then goes on to talk about the day of the game and said: “We don’t need to sit there and go through a massive brief or anything so it’s just about relaxation. I was always relaxed as a player, and I am still that way as a referee.

“I’ll have late breakfast up to 10:00 o’clock, then probably go for coffee with the match official team at around 11am or 12noon, just to have a last pre-game catch up.”

“After that you’re getting changed and heading to the ground.”

Karl tells us he will walk to the Cardiff ground from his hotel, adding to the atmosphere of the day: “I’ll walk through all the crowds to the stadium and that will be quite special. That’s the point where I’ll be really looking forward to the game.

“When I arrive at the stadium, I’ll have conversations with the number fours, the number fives and the referee manager of the day.

“We speak to scrum coaches on the Monday leading up to the game which helps us potentially solve some problems or answer some questions around the game – and can just relax at that point.”

After a game, Karl and his AR’s have a ‘hot de-brief’ which he explains is an opportunity to immediately unpack and discuss the game: “We come into the changing room where there’s a bit of food and some beers and we’ll sit down and have a conversation which we call a ‘hot de-brief,’ he said.

“As the referee you go round the room and ask everyone what they thought and if there are any areas we need to look at.

“There might be a tackle situation or a scrum you want to look at again, so we’ll go around the room and discuss anything that’s fresh in our mind about the game.

“After that it’s time to shower, change, have a few beers and head upstairs to hospitality where we’ll have dinner and drinks.

“That’s the point at which you get to interact with the players from both teams and chat to the coaches.

“You often get the best feedback from a game through these de-brief conversations immediately afterwards with the coaches, and as a team of officials.”

You can watch Karl in action at the Wales v Ireland game on 4th February at 2.15pm.

For more information about ACME Whistles, visit www.acmewhistles.co.uk