With the school rugby season just around the corner, it's time to start preparing for the upcoming high school rugby season. Many ARFC players help out the rugby community by volunteering to coach in the schools but fewer and fewer are offering to lend a hand officiating games. I've often wondered why this is. Refereeing high school rugby is a great way to give back to the sport while at the same time lining your pocket with a few extra bucks; not to mention getting some much needed extra fitness during the week (Flaggy, I'm look in your direction here) as well as having the best seat in the house to watch the future players of the ARFC.
WHY YOU SHOULD GET OUT AND REFEREE HIGH SCHOOL GAMES
- Currently, referees are in high demand and short supply for high school games. Five high schools and six middle schools run programs for well over 25 teams in Abbotsford; this is the future of the ARFC. In order be able to play league games, coaches must find certified referees for each home game or they have to officiate themselves (thus, short-changing the Abby players whose coaches are occupied officiating and not available to coach during the game). Help the schools out by offering to referee and allow the coaches to do their jobs.......coach. This will benefit the ARFC in the long-term. For every team that is in Abbotsford, between two or three referees are needed to properly officiate their games.
- Referees get financially rewarded. Schools pay between $40 and $50 per game;I've even been offered $75 to referee a 60 minute game because the coach was in a pinch in a playoff game and needed a certified referee. For a university student, officiating 3 to 4 games a week could bring in anywhere from $120 to $200 per week. What job pays you between $40 and $50 an hour? You don't have to work weekends, rely on tips or have to give up your dignity by singing "Happy Birthday" to customers either (Khaene Hirshman notwithstanding, he's a restaurant star and loving every minute of it). You get fresh air, exercise and get to watch the future of rugby all the while making 5 times the minimum wage. To steal from John Lennon, "Did I hear you say that there must be a catch, would you walk away from a fool and his money?"
- Refereeing allows for flexible schedules. Unlike coaching, refereeing allows for a flexible schedule. Not available Mondays because you have a class, no problem. Heading to Mexico for a week, no problem. You book your own days that you want to officiate. Even offering one game a week in your schedule will help out while netting a few bucks to pay for your beverages at the clubhouse.
- Refereeing is easy at the lower age levels. To be brutally honest, it doesn't take much skill or knowledge to officiate a Middle School boys or girls game. If you've played one game at club rugby (scrub that, even having played one game of junior high school rugby would meet the prerequisite), you have more than enough knowledge and skill to officiate a game. Do you know what a knock on is? Do you know what a high tackle is? Do you know when a try is scored? Answer yes to any of these aforementioned questions and you're qualified. It's a great way to break into refereeing doing Middle School games and if you like, acquire the skills to move up to the refereeing ranks. Each year I look forward to refereeing a big local derby game such as Yale vs. Batemen or (Abby vs. Yale circa 1988) at the senior level but I still enjoy doing the odd local middle school game as well. And there is more than enough Middle Schools to choose from.
- The BC High School Provincial Championship is held in Abbotsford. Due to the renovations of UBC fields, the BCSSRU have moved the BC Rugby Championship to Ex Park for the foreseeable future. If you get invited, you could be part of the best high school rugby tournament in North America. I've been involved a few times and the level of service referees get is phenomenal; free lunches, dinners and monetary compensation make this a cherished and can't miss event for referees.
Next week article: Rugby Refereeing Clinic; Why You Should Become Certified