Rugby Europe look to change the narrative around refereeing with new European event engaging more than 20 countries - Ruck

Rugby Europe look to change the narrative around refereeing with new European event engaging more than 20 countries

Forty representatives from 20 different rugby federations across Europe, who are supporting referees across the continent, are coming together this weekend in Amsterdam to inspire and change the perception and narrative around refereeing – looking to shine a positive new light on match officials.

Rugby Europe is the association that supports the development of the sport across the 47 European members. Its primary role is to support rugby growth within the region organising the regional competitions and pathways.

Supported by the team at ACME Whistles and Organised by Charlie Brown, Regional Training Manager at Rugby Europe, a former referee himself, this new event is a chance for both referees, and those involved with referee development, to come together and learn from those at the top of the sport to ensure a world class system for refereeing is rolled out across Europe.

About his vision for the event, Charlie said; “When I sat out and put this together, I wanted to add some real value to the refereeing community across Europe.

“When it comes to referees, we recognise that many of our members lack the resources to be able to give them the support they really need.

“Having worked with some of the smaller countries, where the limited pot of funds available goes into coaching and player development, there’s not a great deal left over for other important areas such as match officiating.

“Unions can put the best pathways and structures in place, but if there is a negative attitude towards referees, where  they receive a lot of criticism from their community week in week out – who is ever going to take up the whistle and have a go.”

Alongside the events and training offered by World Rugby designed to train referees at different levels, the Amsterdam event will support federations to develop their own strategies around culture and make the best use of the programs available under World Rugby.

“There will therefore be three key components to the event focussing on the environment, support and finally around the incentives.

“I think there can be a misaligned perception around referees – that they are there only to penalise players or  restrict the flow of the game.

“But in reality, my view is that referees and coaches actually do the same job just with different tools – and the better that we understand what each other is trying to achieve the better synergy we will have and ultimately a better quality of rugby.

This first event targeted referee managers but has also been taken up by referees and other referee support services – from 20 countries from England and Scotland; to Latvia and the Ukraine.

“It’s going to be really interesting dynamic in the room – we’re really looking forward to it,” adds Charlie.

“The first phase of this project is to create what I call ‘fire starters’. Bringing people together, given some ideas and inspiration, but ultimately the work happens afterwards.”

On the panel of speakers at the event is Phil Davies, who’s the director of Rugby at World Rugby who will be giving a briefing on what the world is like within World Rugby referee panels. How do you get there? and what support structures looks like?

Charlie added; “Phil brings a wealth of experience and he will also share a little bit around World Rugby’s shape of the game forum, which is something that is designed to make the game attractive to the next generation of fans.”

The event then has a panel of two referees who have been through the pathway and are now top level including Paulo Duarte from Portugal, and Maria Latos from Germany.

“They are both good case studies to show referees who have actually succeeded and are now refereeing at the World Rugby level who will talk through their journey, what was inspirational for them and what did support look like,” adds Charlie.

After that, next two key notes will be Keith Lewis. coming from the World Rugby sphere, to talk around the toxic environment around refereeing and support that the sport has in place. And finally Joel Dume, Referee Manager for Rugby Europe will share his vision for the future of refereeing at International level for the regional association.

This combined with workshops, best practice demos, and Q&A sessions and the event is set to be a jam packed with valuable talks and content to inspire and support positive cultural change across Europe around refereeing.

Join us over to coming weeks as we report on the findings from the sessions Rugby Europe are running at the event.

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