Update from the Warwickshire Society of Referees to Warwickshire Clubs
Good afternoon/evening everyone
A few weeks ago I sent everyone a message explaining the predicament that we as a society find ourselves in, and indeed, how it was likely to impact you and your clubs as a result. I explained then, the reasons we were experiencing difficulty (problems over GMS & WTR [Who’s the Ref] – both of them systems over which we have little or no control; and lack of [and availability of] referees).
Since then, some problems (e.g. issues re. notification via GMS) have improved, although many remain on these systems upon which we all rely.
However, I would remind you that: a) accurate input of information into GMS is essential if the information is to arrive on WTR – without that, it is virtually impossible to appoint a referee to a fixture, as the system will not allow it to be done; and b) it is pointless telephoning the appointments team for a referee, if your fixture does not appear on WTR, or asking whether or not you have one, if one does not appear opposite your fixture on WTR (I will explain this latter point below); because the GMS notification issue has been resolved, then both clubs and schools will have been told if they have a referee.
As regards the number of referees, although we have a number injured and unavailable, we would expect to make slow but steady progress with availability between now and November – but that cannot be guaranteed. We currently have few Young Whistlers (YWs), as we have been unable to recruit them for (effectively) two seasons.
We always try to appoint as many referees to supply our fixtures as we can, but at the present time, because of the lack of numbers of available referees, we need to prioritise their appointment to fixtures in the following order:
- National leagues and Cup matches (L6 – L10)
- School 1st XVs (L6 – 8)
- Warwickshire Leagues 1, then 2, then 3
- Colts (on the basis that responsible adults should be present and should, in the absence of an appointed referee, be able to supply one by mutual consent, or at least initiate a meaningful activity); and friendly matches between clubs.
What this means in practical terms, is that priority 1 and 2 games will probably have a referee; we will supply as many of the priority 3 games as we can, aiming to cover them all – but it is likely that many fixtures in the priority 4 category will be unlikely to have a referee appointed to their games.
Clearly, we will do our best to supply as many fixtures as possible with referees, but at least in this early period of the season, this is the reality.
We therefore suggest that if you find yourself in categories 3 and 4 in particular, that you try to find someone, or a group of people within your club, who would be prepared to officiate matches; there is an upcoming RFU ERRA (English Rugby Referee Award) course starting on the 17th October at Warwick School, and applications may be made as soon as possible via the GMS course finder (accessible via your club co-ordinator; but any additional queries re. this should be addressed to our recruitment officer, Reece Riley [email: [email protected]]).
The appointments team, led by Howard Russell and assisted by Ian Roberts and Mark Challis, have made almost superhuman efforts to overcome the problems we find ourselves encountering, and are aware that many of you in clubs are also suffering regarding numbers of players returning to the game, following the pandemic-enforced interruption to our normal operations over the last year or more.
We are doing our best, despite all the problems we face, and will continue to do so; and we appear to be doing better than most referee societies around the country in supplying referees to games – but please help us to help you, by preparing, as suggested above, for the possibility of not having a referee appointed in the near future, starting this weekend.
The more prepared we are to meet this challenge, the better able we will be to overcome it.
(Chairman, Warwickshire Society of Referees)