Referees are Human Too

Referees are Human Too

In the immediate aftermath of the Rugby World Cup quarter finals on Sunday, South African referee Craig Joubert was in the spot light for awarding a penalty to Australia that proved to be the winning score and since that moment he has been vilified by ex-Scotland players, fans and World Rugby to some extent as they claim he was wrong to award that penalty to Australia.

Having spoken to referees in the past, they only have a split second to make a decision and they have to live with it until they get to see a replay of the game or it is brought to their attention by the referee’s accessor.

Referees do not have the luxury of 5 or 6 TV replays to help them with most decisions, yes in Rugby League and Union this is now different and you can call upon the Television Match Official to help you in certain instances but not for a penalty call like the one witnessed on Sunday.

If you call in the TMO to help with decisions like the one on Sunday in open play then every decision is up for discussion and you will have captains calling on referees to use the TMO more and more often and in that case you might as well do away with the on field referee and just let the TMO referee the game.

The concentration levels needed now to be a top official are incredible, be that in Gaelic Games, Football or Rugby. If a referee makes an incorrect decision he or she will be dealt with in the correct manner after the final whistle has been blown.

Referees are human as well and need to be treated as such, they are not robots that will when programmed obey commands that will make sure they do not make the same error a second time. This author has been non too kind to certain referees in the past but ever since I spoke to a few referees I have gained a better understanding of what it takes to be a referee.

Put yourself in their shoes for a second and try and make a clear decision when you have players , mentors and supporters on you back to get every call right. Yes there are some bad referees in all codes but most of the officials in every sport are of a decent standard and would not be in that position if they were not capable of doing the job well.

I realise that in the heat of battle that it is not easy for any player or coach to keep his or her head when things are going against you the first person you will look to put the blame on outside of yourself and the team is the referee.

In the GAA for example the abuse that referees suffer is toxic, all of the men or women in black are amateur and are doing it for a love of the sport. Yet when a game is in full flow and even before a game has started the referee will have something said to him or her. Look at it from there point of view why should they give up a week night or a Saturday or Sunday just so they can be abused and insulted from the start.

People have a tendency to lose the run of themselves at sports events where in everyday life they wouldn’t say a word against anyone. I realise you are entitled to follow your team and support them how you like. But before the start of the next game that you are at, take a quick look at the man or woman in the middle and realise they have a family too and they are human beings like everyone else.

If referees were not there no matter what the sport, no games would take place.  So appreciate and respect them these people because after all without referees they would be no sport.


Cian Mc Gibney


Ireland’s Greatest Night

Ireland’s Greatest Night

Ireland head into their final Euro 2016 qualifier with Poland in Warsaw on Sunday with everything to play for , a better result than 1 all will see Ireland grab automatic qualification and even in the event of Ireland being beaten  by Poland, Ireland will have secured a play-off place. After defeat to Scotland back in June, Ireland would have taken your hand off for the scenario that has since played out.

Ireland went into last night game with Germany knowing a draw would put them in a strong position to see Scotland off for 3rd spot. Poland and Scotland played out an entertaining draw at Hampden Park that saw Scotland’s dreams of European qualification evaporate into the night.

Let’s not kid ourselves who in the in The Aviva last night would have foreseen that result coming. It was a rear guard action from minute one but Martin O Neill had his team well set up and they tucked in and defended in numbers. On more than one occasion they rode their luck but on a night like last night who cares!!   

From the moment Shay Given went off injured that seemed to galvanise Ireland into action and they took Germany on. They lived on edge with Mario Gotze and Mesut Ozil coming close in the first half. Ireland were reduced to resolute defending and clearances.  When Ireland did keep the ball they didn’t look that out of place. Wes Hoolahan and James Mc Carthy in particular kept the ball to good effect.  Germany did likewise and they created a number of chances put they could not find a way past Darren Randolph who had come on to replace Shay Given.

Germany came into last night’s game on the back of 5 wins on the bounce and they will still feel that they will cement top spot on Sunday evening by beating Georgia. Germany played a very high defensive line that saw Shane Long scamper in behind them to fire Ireland in front after 70 minutes.

It was a well taken goal after a long ball from Randolph it found its way all the way to Shane Long who took it down controlled it and fired it past Manuel Neuer to score one of those goals that will live long in the memory.

We now move onto Warsaw on Sunday evening to see can Ireland complete to remarkable turn around by beating Poland and therefore securing automatic qualification. Throughout this campaign Ireland have oven flattered to deceive but last night all of that was forgotten as Ireland secured the three points and in turn knocked Scotland out of contention.

For everyone in the Aviva last night it was a special moment. 50,000 people can say they were there to see Ireland defeat the current World Champions. How precious are the two late goals by John O Shea and Shane Long against Germany and Poland last year now.

So Sunday is a big day for Irish sport with the rugby team in action against France in Cardiff at 4.45pm and then Martin O Neill’s men go into action at 7.45pm against Poland with everything to play for on both fronts. Schmidt and O Neill are brothers in arms, both men can help keep the feel good factor going in Ireland well into next week.

From 4.30 on Sunday, close the curtains, take the phone off the hook , make sure the uniform for school is ironed and ready for road. Then strap yourself in and “DON’T FORGET TO BREATH “


Cian Mc Gibney




Time For Change

Time For Change

As the group stage of the 2015 World Cup comes to a close over the next few days. We will see the top 2 sides in each of the 4 groups progress to the Quarter Finals. Today for instance will see Georgia take on Namibia and South Africa will face the USA.

Japan have of course have been the stand out team of the so called tier 2 nations, beating  South Africa 34-32 in week 1. They played a nice brand of attacking rugby that allowed them to attack South Africa at the break down and also in the scrum.

They of course have a professional league that has seen some high profile southern hemisphere players ply their trade in the league. The likes of George Smith , Fourie Du Preez , JP Pieterson  and Nick Cummins otherwise known as the “ Honey Badger” have all spent time playing the top Japanese League.

This has all been a huge benefit the national team with Fuimaki Tanaka playing with the Otago Highlanders in the Super Rugby competition along with team captain Micheal Letitch who plays with the Waikato Chiefs. They also have a strong coaching team led by Eddie Jones with Steve Borthwick and Mark Del Maso.

You can see all the hall marks of the good coaching and what that has done for Japan. The don’t try and play a game that wouldn’t suit them like going toe to toe with the bigger teams and being physical. They are smart at the breakdown , they are also cleaver at the line out and they have one or two set moves that have caused the opposition problems. The other key problem that the smaller teams have suffered from is that they do not have a player that can consistently convert chances when they arise.

The Japanese however have solved that issue with a quality 10 that has converted most of the chances that have come his way. That in turn has seen them pick up two wins from three games and they still have a slim chance of making the World Cup quarter finals. Aside from Japan, Georgia have been another team playing at this World Cup with great freedom. They will go for a second win in the group over Namibia this evening.

These two teams have again shown World Rugby that it isn’t just the top nations that have been putting in the hard graft. Japan will have a team in the expanded Super Rugby competition from 2016 and this will push on their development no end. Argentina will also have a team in the 2016 Super Rugby competition. Back in 2007 Argentina made the world sit up and take notice by finishing 3rd at that year’s World Cup.

From a European point of view Georgia deserve great credit and to this end , I feel there should be some sort of benefit for their good performances at this year’s World Cup. Tradition is strong in the game of rugby union and for that reason World Rugby may be very slow to change and give these national sides something to work towards and that is promotion and relegation in the two main International competitions, The Six Nations and The Rugby Championship.

 This would mean that all 6 teams in the Six Nations would have something to play for into the last day and in turn would give all the other teams that play in the Nations Cup something to fight for. It also makes sense as Rugby makes its debut at the 2016 Olympics and we will see all the countries that have had great success at 7s take to the world stage and fight for gold in Rio. Countries like Russia , Holland , Scotland , Wales to name just 4 countries that have been on the world stage competing in the HSBC World Series. Ireland of course made a delayed return to 7s action after a few years away.

Here’s hoping World Rugby see fit to give the so called Tier 2 nations a chance.



Cian Mc Gibney