Many of you know Neil Chivers, he has produced an article for us before about his refereeing experiences. With the start of the season close by I asked him if he would pen another one for us, the question I asked him was simple, “Where from, where now, where to”?
Where to begin :-)
As I am on the start of my 12th season it’s been good to look back where I have come from and where I would like to be.
On the back of a shoulder injury, (which I probably could have played on from) I started doing a bit of refereeing. My refereeing career started much the same as my playing career, at Heathbrook.
I started off by doing the odd game on a Sunday morning for the DK Youth Section, after a while the NMSRFR society sent a couple people down to have a look at me.
Once they realised that I was not playing because of an injury they started appointing me to adult games, the first of which was at the university ground behind the QE in Birmingham where I took charge of Aston Old Eds 2’s against Bournville 3’s. This was not exactly what you would call a festival of rugby as it was 13 a side uncontested scrums from the start as neither side had front row players.
My Mum and Dad have travelled with me a lot over the years, but early on dad may have got a bit bored along the way. At one of the early games he was trying out his new camera, when we looked back through the photos there were quite a few photos of planes in their final approach to Birmingham Airport.
Fig 2: Cornish Pirates v Hartbury
I want to get as far up the levels as I can, I am currently operating in the 2nd tier of English rugby (Championship) as a referee and as a reserve official in the top tier of English rugby, the Gallagher Premiership. The next stage for me is to continue working hard on my game and with a bit of luck and a following wind referee in the Premiership!
Fig 1: London Exchange
The first time I refereed at Stourbridge they were playing Sheffield Tigers, whenever I gave a penalty to Sheffield I would hear shouts of “Come on DK”!
So, what of the future? I will still be maintaining my belief, as I have all the way through my career, of enjoying what I am doing. As a referee you have to accept that it takes up a lot of your spare time. Each week I review my last game as well as having to preview the following weekend’s game and as I mentioned before, there is a fair bit of travel involved.
Fig 3: Ukraine v Poland U20s
We often think about players working hard pe season, but it is worth a thought for referees, especially at Neil’s level. Only this week I was at the club, out on the pitch was Neil and brother Rob, doing interval sprints up and down the pitch, Neil’s training is just as intense as any player’s!
This is yet another important season for Neil, if you look on the Premiership Rugby Match Officials Website you will see pictures of all the top referees, just under them is a list of Assistant Referees, can you see it?
Fig 5: Refereeing DK v Wolverhampton a couple of weeks ago.
Fig 5: From the Premiership Rugby Site
Despite the hours training, traveling, refereeing, reviewing and previewing Neil has never forgotten his roots, he still makes himself available (when he can) for DK matches, both senior and for youth on a Sunday morning.
Wherever his first premiership game is, I think the locals will be a touch surprised at the amount of support that turns up for the referee!