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At a recent u12's match, the home ref, who is also?

At a recent u12's match, the home ref, who is also a L2 coach penalized the hooker for foul play. At the end of the match at the debrief, the ref said to the hooker in front of his peers that he would have sent him off if there had been any subs. Is this against the guidelines of the child protection and did he dip out of his duties as a ref. What are your thoughts? Gary SWales

It is not child protection, but as a referee it is all about safety. If it was fould play, and he deemed it a red card, then he should have issued one. However, there are some caveats as any referee and society will confirm. At junior/ youth and certainly at mini/midi, rathr than issue a red you would suggest that maybe a player be substuted rather than sent off. If there were no sub's, and he deemed it serious enough then he should still send him off, and the club deal with him and the coaches accrodingly.

Thanks for that Simon, I was coming from the point of view that it might be a form of ridicule in front of the boys peers. I agree that the ref/coach should have said something to the player but I think he should have taken him to one side and told him on his own/in front of his parent.The WRU guidelines state that ridicule could be a form of bullying.

Did the ref explain why he would have sent him off?

In fairness to the ref, he did tell him what he had done was wrong. However as a former referee and coach if I was going to castigate young players I was always encouraged to do it in a more discreet manner. I would tell the assembled boys that foul play was not acceptable and that if any further misdeeds were carried out then they could expect to be penalizied appropiately. Regards, Gary SWales.

Simon was right about what should happen, it's even laid down in the WRUs Players Pathway. Also I have found that when I referee youngsters and an incident like this occurs, I like to also bring on the coach(es) and explain what happened to them and inform them of my decision, so that everything is clear and that all the children can learn from it .

I have to disagree Simon. This is also a Child protection issue (as laid by the RFU) and isn't just a rugby issue, but an issue with society as a whole these days.

No doubt when you were all growing up - as me - we took the verbal lashings and were pretty much made responsible for our actions, it didn't matter whether our peers or parents were there. This doesn't happen these days, and with the issue of victimisation, exclusion etc. we, quite rightly, have to be very careful with not only what we say but how we say it, as everything we say can be taken as insulting by somebody, even if it wasn't mean to be.

The 'advisory' language for dealing with these issues is so loose, that its open to interpretation and nobody is right.......or wrong! Take for example the wearing of mouthguards. Some clubs make it compulsory to wear them, and young players aren't allowed to play without them. So, what happens if a player suffers a mouth injury and is subsequently told that the injury was made worse because the player had the guard in? If one thing is certain in this day and age, it is that the kids parents are highly likely seek compensation from the club for making little 'jonny' wear a mouthguard. This may sound far fetched, but it has already happened!

I had an incident about 2 months back where a player in one of my U13 sides just stood up and walked out of the scrum after it had engaged, his reason was "I didn't want to play anymore!" Luckily no one was injured as a result of his actions, but what would've happened if there were injuries? they always look to someone to blame, so who? Everyone comes under the spotlight, the Ref, coaches, even parents on the touchline. I had to be calm and reasonable and wanted to suggest the player look at playing another sport, but can't do that as thats a form of 'exclusion' (we had constant problems with him and evidence that suggested the parents were 'forcing' him to play Rugby).

And of course, the victimisation card, even though we're all different, have our own opinions and as such are unconsciously treating each other differently, we can't be seen dealing with them differently as we leave ourselves wide open to accusations.

If we take the ref that Gary witnessed, perhaps thats his manner and character. I really couldn't say that I think what he did was right or wrong. I think the key is to gain the respect of the players, we all have a ways, its a matter of personal philosophy.

Thanks for that Denis. It seems that there is no 'one' answer that covers this type of situation. It comes down to the individual. No doubt, if some parent were to take the litigious route and publicvity were to follow, we would then have a precedent to work from. Until then, I suppose common sense must come prevail. Thanks to all who took an interest in this question. Gary SWales

I think common sense only prevails if it is in line with the attitude of the society at that time. I go to France to watch and coach every now and then and they'd find our current attitude very alien, as would the US.

I think that in the UK we're seeing a major change in our national 'ego', and this in turn affects all aspects of life, not just sport.

Totally agree with Denis, It is a child protection issue, in the end its about how you manage such a situation. As an official who presumably been involved in a Child awareness program, he should have handled this better, via the Coach/parent ERIC STOKES

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