Playing The Glame Game When Own Backyard Is Full Of Dirt

Glancing the social media I came across the comments “Referees are Jokers and the Referee is a Joke.” They are right. Or else how would you explain these people taking the whistle with all the verbal insults and the risk of physical abuse. The filth and the abusive language are such that a referee may not be able to bring his parents, his wife nor his children. When five of the top eight Rugby schools are of a Christian background one may expect a better bowing of head to the spirit of Rugby and respect by giving the other cheek: so as to set an example to others. We seem more used to the culture of complaint around us.

The government criticises the past; within the government one faction criticises the other while the opposition moans and the Unions and students join them. Rugby is a wonderful game that can teach a lesson or two but strangely it is being taken to the cleaners.The people who call referees jokers might say that they referee because they are paid. What they get paid (the top panel) if they do a game every week and be Assistant Referee at times will be around Rs. 50,000 for may be six months. Compare this to what the coaches of the top tier teams get at most times as ten months to a year. Is all the abuse a result of trying to justify the existence of those who are paid so much to get players to perform?

On top of that the referee has to achieve a fitness level and also keep working out at least three days a week. He has to train off season for which he gets nothing but has an expense. Yet those who know so much so as to call others jokers won’t even take the whistle and get onto the field for ladies over sixty match. They won’t and if they do they will see how more difficult it is than when you sit in a club house with a pint in hand. If these jokers are not there; would you be able to come and watch a match and have the freedom to make wanted or unwanted comments. May be you may want foreign referees. Most of those who come here are those who have never had an opportunity to referee a match in the presence of this large crowd which also generates excitement and tension. For them it is exposure while local carry the weight. The referee also tends to be classed as a joker because of those whose tongue is twisted in whatever way they like.

I read an article by Jules Evans the Author of Philosophy for Life and Other Dangerous Situations who has been running a philosophy group for Saracens. “Saracens Football Club is a professional Rugby Union team based in London, England. Established in 1876, they are the reigning champions of the English Premiership. At Saracens the group explores many wisdom traditions of Buddha, Aristotle, Epictetus the Stoic, Taoism etc. Players have ups and downs in a game: one time they are gods and when fortune shifts they are no body. That is when wisdom comes handy. According to Jules among the group are people like Jim Hamilton, Owen Farrell Alex Goode discussing philosophy. When you look at the chanting and deviant behavior it is time to think of Stoic Philosopher Epictetus who taught that “it is not events, but our opinion of events that causes us suffering”. It is indeed the opinion that makes us shout and rant and using word that may make the workers of Johns Fish Market proud

Jules Evans writing in his change of Saracens explains how players embraced: Buddhist mindfulness. The Buddha said “We are what we think; all that we are created by our thoughts.”

Brian Moore in his Telegraph Column wrote when Saracens lost the Premiership Title in 2014 to a dubious try after a disallowed try of their own; “the team handled it with impressive integrity and dignity”. That is the result of learning wisdom. We think we have the best team but are unable to take the opposition and blame referees and also the players of the other side. The latest is to take on the citing officials as well as the Television Match Official the mentality of thinking anything and anybody can be bought is not Christian.

I have seen matches which were lost or won with luck, because there was nobody who could kick. I saw this when Trinity lost to Peters and when they beat the Joes. The kicker made the difference of five points when he came in the second half. Now tell me where lies the jokers who cannot see the tool that can win matches. Sometimes, the difference between effectiveness and failure lies in how expertly a tool is used. Caesar mastered the art and said six inches of point beats two feet of blade.

Take the Joes-Wesley match where there were five line outs taken by Wesley in front to number 2 or sometimes to 1. Every time they did so they gained ground. What plan was put into place to counter this? The standoff for his kicks is an All Black. Other than that he and the centres appear selfish or running towards the lines but not making space. Winning gives you something to talk about. Not winning means you should talk less and work more. If you concentrate on the mistakes on the man in the middle then you don’t see your players because you cannot look at two things; refereeing and playing. Practice more of traditional philosophy than live in an era like that of the Old Saracens where there was a less friendly atmosphere but replete with brutal banter.Peters lost to Joes when the number 10 nursed an injury and then again lost to Wesley when the number 10 went off the field. The question is what alternative plans were on hand. Handling after the defeat was what was most important.

Royal and Pathana have been cruising at most times playing as a disciplined unit and with team work. Look at a move by Pathana you find players backing up. They too almost cocked up playing selfish in the first quarter if the game against STC. STC played well for a major part of the game but what did they have to counter the running style of the Park Boys.

Royal does what they are good at using the basic skills and countering when the chips are down and regrouping and not complaining. They play to their strength and not the other mans. Epicurus taught that the meaning of life is to be happy. We can learn to be happy by enjoying the present moment and not striving after false desires.

 Vimal Perera is a former Rugby Referee, coach and Accredited Referees Evaluator IRB

By  - Sunday Times



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