Growing the rugby family
So as the Autumn Internationals head towards their conclusion it is good to see an improvement in Scotland's performance, so that we find ourselves being disappointed that we don't win with more élan and panache, as opposed to the days when we would just be grateful for any win at all (albeit I write this before the Georgia match !).
Generally speaking there has been some great rugby during the month of November and in particular I have been impressed by the performance of some of the so-called lesser teams against their more vaunted opponents. Who will forget the faces of the Italian players when the final whistle blew against South Africa. The Japanese were desperately unlucky not to record a mighty win in the Millennium. But the icing on top of the cake was surely the outstanding commitment shown by Ireland at Soldier Field, Chicago, when they brought to an end the record run for successive wins against the All Blacks.
So perhaps the old order in World Rugby is beginning to change, and personally I think it is changing for the better. More teams competing toe to toe on the global stage can only increase standards across the board and provide inspiration for the next generation of players coming through.
And speaking of change it is important that we at ERRS are mindful of the need to evolve too. No-one was more surprised than I was when - totally unprompted - my 14 year old son asked me if I could check out courses for him as he wanted to become a rugby referee. I'm pleased to say that he completed his course and is now going out into the big bad world of reffing (Kirkcaldy P7-S2) with a new whistle and some shiny cards. I just hope the whistle gets an awful lot more use than the cards !
But it was thanks to our own that my son has discovered this brand new world. He came away full of enthusiasm having spent several hours under the expert tutelage of Alex Gordon-Smith. Both Alex and Malcolm Currie do a great job in taking new referees through the Level 1 course and their contribution is worthy of greater exposure and acknowledgement.
In no small part due to Alex and Malcolm's efforts we have managed to grow our society and at the same time change its profile so that we are bringing on more younger referees. As a result those of us at the "more senior" end of the society find ourselves having our ankles nipped by the young terriers. It is important that those of us with more experience share our collected wisdom with our newcomers and encourage them to take the good and disregard the bad that we have had all suffered over the years. Similarly, in order to allow true progression and enhance the quality and reputation of our Society it would do no harm for us older officials to perhaps consider scaling back our activities to allow the younger refs a fair crack of the whip. Never forget there are plenty of other ways for us to remain involved, and I know that Ian Thom is crying out for additional coaches - whether on a full-time or on a part play/part coach basis.
Our next Society Meeting is our annual Christmas quiz, and I'm sure Johnny Cockayne will have been bringing his usual meticulous approach to bear in coming up with an event which baffles and entertains us in equal measure. I hope to see as many of you as possible in attendance - free booze and maybe a mince pie or too ! - but if I don't then best wishes to you and your families and friends for the festive season.
Yours in rugby,