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


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