‘Whistleblower’ is David Matthews, a long serving honorary

life member of the club .

He was President of Lancashire County RFU for 2014/2015

He enjoyed twenty years on the RFU Referee List, including two seasons on the International Panel between 1992-94. This also comprised Assistant Referee duties and work as Television Match Official for eleven years

 to 2012.

Not too distressed by coach criticism, the summit

can still be reached.

There are spells which seem to be ‘have a real go at the ref weeks,’ and the last weekend in October, heralding a short break in Aviva Premiership proceedings, was worthy of note. It was that cuddly companion to referees, Sale coach Steve Diamond, who led the way after his side had narrowly lost their home match with Exeter, 10-6.

Already in a spiky mood when asked beforehand if Marland Yarde was about to join the Cheshire club, he vehemently denied it. (Needless to say, a few days later Yarde was a Sale player).

The closing stages of the match were never likely to improve his humour when a penalty against the Sharks was awarded in a promising attacking position. His interpretation of the incident went “He (the referee) made it up. The other sixty or seventy rucks should have been penalised if that’s a penalty. If you’ve got somebody that's occasionally weak-minded, and it looked like that in the last two or three minutes, those people tend to give those decisions to what is perceived to be the stronger team.” The independent disciplinary hearing is due at Chester even as I write.

Whilst I am quite a fan of this referee, the decision in question did beg a number of talking points and if I was actually saying this I would need to be whispering lest anyone for one minute thinks I am offering support to the Sale coach. I am certain that spectators everywhere have watched a player be penalised for going off his feet (or the other favourite, holding on to the ball) and wondered what was different about that situation from another “sixty or seventy rucks.” There lies the great conundrum: a) Why, in a tight game, go looking for trouble? b) Did it have any effect on the play? c) Was there anything to distinguish that particular breakdown from the many others which make up the play? Is it any wonder that it is not only the casual spectator who is baffled by it all?

On the same weekend, there was more referee criticism, this time in a letter to The Rugby Paper: “I have not seen a worse example of officiating than the Saints versus Clermont game last Saturday. The referee seemed to be overawed by the French crowd and was unable to make simple decisions on his own.” And there was more, now grumbling because the TMO was not used enough. This time the correspondent went back a week to Northampton v Wasps when a try was disallowed for the visitors as the assistant referee ruled touch. The replay, for some reason not called for, proved otherwise. Moral of story, if technology is available use it, though Wasps coach Dai Young could not resist his own little dig “I don't know why he didn't go to the TMO - he did for everything else.”

Coaching has to be one job in rugby where you do need a special mentality, a polite way of expressing the belief that those who do it are on a different wavelength. The ones mentioned here will all be delighted to know that the referees who came under the hammer will all be in charge of international games in the coming weeks.

DWM 8/11/17 (6)

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