The 2021-2022 Season

With the further easing of public health restrictions in England, the RFU have sanctioned a return to full contact rugby, with fixtures in the community game allowed to take place under full laws to be permitted from August 7th 2021. A full league season is currently planned to commence on September 4th.

WIth this is mind, our attention and thoughts return to rugby after an 18 month hiatus.

Availability

We have a number of pre-season friendlies already on Whos the Ref for August and the bulk of the league fixtures start in September. Please put your availability on WtR for both August and September (and beyond if possible).

Law Trials and Variations

Please note that World Rugby have introduced a number of global law trials for the season. Full details are available of the World Rugby website. In addition to these law trials, the RFU have saught a number of clarifications from World Rugby, which are in this document. (Please note that although the “Cavalry Charge” is no longer defined in the law book, World Rugby have advised this should be dealt with as dangerous play.)

For all age grade rugby, a high tackle is above the armpits. This extends the exisiting regulation for U9-U14 and is now universal for age grade rugby in England. There has been no change to the laws for adult rugby. Please also remember the world rugby high tackle framework, which has again been updated and refined furter.

Headcase and Laws

It is recommended that all members of the society re-complete the HEADCASE concussion education module and World Rugby laws exam ahead of their return to refereeing.

The RFU ran a number of online seminars over the lockdown periods which have been archived and are available to watch on demand.

World Rugby have once again updated the head contact sanctioning framework. Wayne Barnes has worked with RFU to create a 40 minute video on the process.

DBS and GMS

All referees who referee age group rugby now require a DBS check. The management committee recommend that all active referees are DBS checked and would like to thank all of those who have completed their checks already. If you have not yet done so, please contact Den to start the process (glosboy937@yahoo.co.uk) otherwise you cannot be appointed to schools or age grade fixtures.

To help us do this we would be obliged if people can logon to GMS (if you know your username and password) and buy a membership to CUDRRS (Free) this will allow us to get access to your details and get the DBS process started. If you need help with this, please contact Ben (cudrrssec@gmail.com).

Return to Play Guidance

With rugby returning please can all members update availability to referee on who’s the ref. Additionally, please refer to the RFU website for the latest updates. The planned move towards full contact rugby has been delayed further.

DBS

All referees who are refereeing age grade fixtures now require a DBS certificate for their involvement in rugby. The management group recommends that all referees have a DBS certificate. Further details can on how to start the DBS process can be found here.

Law Variations and Return to Play

The RFU have made a number of law variations to enable the return to play. This has removed the scrum and maul from the game temporarily.

All referees should familiarise themselves with the guidance form the RFU around the law variations and match day protocols.

In Memory of David Ford

Honorary Member David Ford died on 4th February after a short spell in Addenbrooke’s Hospital.  He was 82 years old and had been suffering with ill health for the past few years. 

David was almost a founding member of the Society. He joined it in the late 1950’s when he was a student at the University. Contributing to the recently compiled history of the society, he recalled that the majority of members then were students.

For forty years, we worked for Smee and Ford legacy specialists, retiring as its  chairman in 2000. His relaxed friendly style was well known to many fundraisers, a style which no doubt was a feature of his refereeing.

He was also chairman of the board of Institute of Fundraising and widely acknowledged as the UKs godfather of bequest marketing.

Whilst working in the City, he refereed with the London Society at first class level.

He was a pioneer in the development of a formal process for assessing referees performances. Returning to the Eastern Counties in the 1980’s, David helped progress the assessment system and training of advisors in the four sub county societies.

David’s proficiency was recognised by the RFU who appointed him as a Divisional Advisor Development Officer at national level. He assessed/advised match officials in the National Leagues.

He was also Society ADO monitoring and coaching CUDRRS advisors. He was someone who spoke with authority and wisdom and was respected greatly.

Charles Osbourn commented that David was always fair and constructive in his assessment of a referee’s performance and subsequent advice.. 

Typical of so many of CUDRRS members, David was dedicated to rugby and gave back to the game as much as he got from it.

He is the third Honorary Member of CUDRRS who has died recenty in what should have been a joyous golden jubilee year for the Society. 

Jon Evans said “It is another massive loss to us all”.

We console ourselves by recalling the good times we shared and being grateful we knew them. 

Our condolences have been expressed to his family.

Mike Dimambro                                                                    February 2021

Glyn James 1931-2021

Glyn James who was a Honorary Member of CUDRRS died on Monday, 8th February 2021 at the age of 89 years in The Red House Care Home in Stamford. 

He joined  the Society in 1996 to boost our refereeing input to the RFU Cambridge University Laws Laboratory which experimented with new laws in midweek matches in the college leagues up to 2008. 

In a Laws Laboratory match at Jesus College refereed by Glyn,  Sky TV tested out a prototype of a “ref cam”.  A chest camera was fitted to him with the lens poking out through from a hole cut in the jersey he wore,  fortunately one “borrowed ” from a student

For a while he served as our University appointments secretary organising referees who came to take part in the experiments from several societies.  He was made a Honorary Member in 2008 in recognition of the contribution he had made.

Glyn came with a reputation of being a character well known for his distinctive and individual style of refereeing in first class rugby.  His experience proved invaluable.

He was extremely fit and could pass for being in his late forties. Refereeing can clearly be good for your health

His first appearance in the middle was in a match between Stamford and Lincoln’s fourth teams in the 1974-75 season. Subsequently, he refereed at every major club in England and Wales, served on the Rugby Football Union’s A list and County Panel as a member of the Notts,  Lincs and Derby Referee Society.

During his refereeing career he took charge of more than 3000 matches reaching that milestone in November 2005, aged 74, in a college match between Trinity Hall and Churchill College. The teams formed a guard of honour going onto and leaving the field.  He was  well respected by the students. 

A proud Forester – born and bred in the Forest of Dean – the former scrum-half and retired engineering lecturer frequently clocked up more than 90 games per season. He often refereed seven days a week taking advantage of college rugby played midweek at Cambridge and Oxford Universities.

His refereeing was brought to a sudden halt in 2009 when he was driving on the A1 to referee a match in Leicester. He suffered a serious stroke at the wheel and was fortunate to avoid colliding with other traffic.  With typical determination, he recovered the ability to walk unaided his ability to talk progressively deteriorated as did his physical health. This  became a frustration that undermined his fighting spirit. 

Over the years he had developed his own distinctive style and philosophy.  In an interview with Brendan Gallagher of the Daily Telegraph in 2005 he explained it.

“My modus operandi, if there is a big flare-up, is to casually wander over to the touchline and have a gossip with the spectators and perhaps cadge a cup of coffee from somebody’s thermos. There is nothing more ridiculous in this world than two grown adults slugging it out in public when the audience have lost interest.

I remember once at the British Police final at Welford Road, quite a big match in those days in front of a decent crowd, there was obviously a lot of bad blood between the international second rows – big Wade Dooley from the Lancashire Constabulary and Steve Sutton from the South Wales Police. Sure enough it all went off from the kick-off.

I sat down near the dug-outs and started taking my boots off. The Lancashire captain – was it Shaun Gallagher from Waterloo? – rushed over and asked what was going on.

“I’m off home, I’m not putting up with this pathetic nonsense,” said I.

“Ref! You can’t do that, pleaded the captain.  All the chief constables and top brass are here. We are going to look bloody idiots and be for the high jump afterwards”.

 “Not my problem sunshine. I’m not a copper. Sort it out yourselves. You lot are pretty good at telling other people what to do”.

“The following 79 minutes was the cleanest and most polite game I’ve ever reffed”.

Glyn could relate many such anecdotes from his vast experience. They were told with his characteristic  mischievous twinkle  in his eye and a smile.

Rugby for me is all about family, friendship and fun. When you start refereeing your family becomes larger and friendships become stronger. The fun increases if you join a referees’ society.

When one of the friends you have made through refereeing dies, the friendship still lives on through memories.   Many people in Cambridgeshire and beyond have good reason to remember with fondness and admiration one of our Honorary Members, Glyn James. I do.

Learning of Glyn’s death,  Ed Morrison OBE, the 1995 Rugby World Cup referee commented ” He was indeed a true rugby champion who served our game with enormous distinction”. 

Steve Hill , ex coach of Oxford University and now of Richmond RFC, knew Glyn at Loughborough University and referred to  him as a “top man”. Gone Yes but forgotten No.

To his wife Barbara and his family, CUDRRS extends its deep sympathy. May he rest in peace. 

Mike Dimambro
February 2021

Frank Whaley

The society is saddened by the recent passing of Frank Whaley, who died on the 4th November 2020 following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Frank was an honorary member of CUDRRS, having joined us in 1990 before going on to be our society training officer, referee assessor and a respected part of the rugby community. His reach went beyond the society, as Frank often travelled to help referees in the Eastern Counties and Central Federation.

Frank helped CUDRRS gain a reputation for providing a much admired and appreciated
service to local and national rugby of which we were very proud. In particular, he provided an analytical and constructive contribution to our evaluation of law change experiments in the RFU Laws Laboratory which were organised in College Rugby from 1996 to 2008.

Former society president Jon Evans has expressed his appreciation for the guidance and support he received from Frank whilst forging his career in refereeing and it is undoubtedly not alone in this regard.

Our condolences go out to all of Frank’s family and friends, not least to his wife Jill, daughters Susan and Catherine, and their grandchildren.

Message from RFU/RFRU on Current Return to Play

The RFRU has been asked to remind Societies as to where we are on the Return to Rugby Pathway.

Rugby is at Stage D of the pathway.

This means that intra club activity can include some contact work and inter club activity is allowed as a non contact activity.

Our strong recommendation is that a referee should only be involved in intra club activity in their own club.

Some clubs are asking societies to appoint to inter club activities. This should only be done if four criteria are successfully completed

  • Only referees who want to volunteer to do games should be appointed with no pressure being placed on individuals
  • The referee is satisfied that the club have made proper provision for a Covid safe environment for the official
  • If the game is an Age Grade game, the referee is DBS checked
  • It is organised as a non-contact fixture using Ready4Rugby or other Touch formats

If a club approaches a referee on an individual basis, the referee should only accept the game at their own club and recognising the above criteria.


We hope that this clarifies the situation in these fast moving times.

Ian Woodgate

RFRU Secretary

November Meeting

Our November meeting was held at Cambridge University RUFC. A number of our referees and advisors attended a session on game values and communication by Michael Patz (@Michael_RFURef), who also helped us at our pre-season meeting in September.

Once again, Michael led an engaging and thought-provoking session which principally focussed on three areas (appealing, challenging and goading) which are adversely affecting the game values across the game from grass roots through to the professional game. This precipitated a wide ranging discussion and suggestions (building on real examples) on how to manage/communicate with players.

All members of the rugby community are also reminded of the serious nature of concussion and are all encouraged to regularly complete the RFU’s HEADCASE online concussion module (Active referees should be completing the module at least once a season). Referees and clubs are also reminded that there is no HIA in any fixture that CUDRRS appoints to.

Our next meeting is on Tuesday 3rd December at Shelford RFC. There will be a short session on preparation and the psychology of refereeing followed by our traditional Christmas quiz.

October Meeting

The first meeting of the season was held at Shelford RFC and was well attended. A number of topics were mentioned, with a brief update from the management group before discussions around the following points:

  1. All members and clubs have recently been sent a memorandum regarding on-field behaviour and upholding the game values/spirit of the game. The memo can be downloaded here. It was noted that the standards amongst the clubs in the region is generally very high, but it is the responsibility of the entire rugby community to ensure that the game values are maintained.
  2. All referees were reminded of their responsibility around player safety and head injuries. All referees, coaches and players are asked to complete the Headcase training on a regular basis (i.e. at the start of each season).
  3. Referees are reminded to be fully aware of all youth/U19 variations – referees should note that a game can only continue with the agreement of both coaches if the score differential becomes greater than 50 points (or 6 tries in games where kicks are not taken). Referees are advised to speak to coaches at a convenient moment before the differential reaches 50 points if the game starts to become heavily one-sided. If anyone has any questions regarding youth rugby and regulations, please feel free to ask one of the management group who will be able to point you in the right direction.

The next meeting will take place on Tuesday 5th November 2019 at Cambridge University RFC at 7.30 pm.

CUDRRS Pre-Season Training Day Slides and Resources

Pre-season training day at Impington Village College hailed as a huge success

On the 1st September, a pre-season meeting for our referees around the theme of Safety and Consistency was organised by society training officer Joe McWilliams and held at Impington Village College.

The meeting was attended by a good number of our membership and featured presentations from the RFU by Michael Patz, who guided our members through the high-tackle framework along with other regulation changes . The slide deck produced by the RFU can be found attached to this article and a downloadable version of the world-rugby video can be found here.

The society will be looking to build upon the success of the meeting, both at our monthly meetings, and in future years. Should you have any topic suggestions for our training events, please pass them on to the CUDRRS management group.