The Association of Referees, Connacht Branch (ARCB) held its annual pre-season seminar at the Ard Rí Hotel in Tuam on Saturday 26th August. Almost 50 ARCB members attended the event which has traditionally marked the official start of the season for referees in Connacht.
Proceedings were opened by ARCB President, Des Roche who wished the group well for the season ahead, stressing that the voluntary contribution made by the group to rugby in Connacht was essential to participation in rugby and the growth of the game in the province. ARCB referees covered almost 1400 match official appointments last season, officiating from underage up to URC, EPCR and international competitions. Des also thanked the main ARCB sponsor, BF Goodrich, and Connacht Rugby for their continued support.
Referee Development Manager for Connacht, Peter Fitzgibbon led the technical sessions of the seminar, focussing on the tackle height law trial being implemented this season, and on situational awareness skills for referees. The lowering of the tackle height to below the line of the sternum for all club and school rugby in Ireland is being trialled for two seasons to change player behaviour in the tackle, and ultimately reduce incidents of head-on-head or shoulder-to-head impact in this area. A comprehensive range of information and resources on the law trial can be found on the Irish Rugby website here https://www.irishrugby.ie/playing-the-game/tackle-behaviour/ .
Peter Fitzgibbon commented that "the IRFU Referee Development Department have provided guidance on the tackle height law trial to all referees through in-person seminars and online education modules. Any initiative which puts the focus on player welfare is fully supported by referees around the country. This year has seen one of the biggest ever attendances at an ARCB pre-season seminar. Coming on the back of ARCB having six referees on the IRFU national referee panel, the largest ever representation from the province, it shows the vibrancy that currently exists within the refereeing community in Connacht".
The ARCB are holding a course for new referees in Galway on 16th September. If you would like to find out more about becoming a referee, or want to attend the course, the Referee Development Manager for Connacht, former international referee Peter Fitzgibbon is waiting to hear from you. He can be reached at email@example.com or 086 8322 987.