‘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.


A simple method of avoiding controversy

Either the winters are milder, communication has improved or common sense is being applied, but there do not seem to be as many unnecessary late postponements of games these days. I am sure there have been tales of teams travelling long distances to be told the match is off but the pressure of league rugby, knowing that there will automatically be a rearrangement, could well have introduced some logical thinking at last.

The European Cup manages to remain in its own little bubble, believing that the games are immune from adverse weather and will be played come hell or high water. The latest bit of nonsense came in December for the Saracens v Clermont Auvergne clash, scheduled for the Sunday afternoon. A heavy snowfall in the London area meant that the tie had to be called off; no argument there, Saracens’ artificial surface ironically having no value, safety issues on the surrounding roads were the problem. Hastily fixed up for the Monday afternoon, a 5.30pm kick-off was decided, behind closed doors! This was then changed to allow spectators in, including a few hundred French followers who had stayed on. A grand total of less than 3000 made up the crowd to witness a startling forty-point defeat for the home side. An inquiry was promised into why there was so much messing about, but there is, as yet, no update available.

Over the years, hardly any referees have not, mercifully, when two teams have disagreed over the fitness of the pitch, taken the bold step of going ahead and starting the game. To add even more controversy, sixty minutes is the cut off point for the result to stand, so ending play just short or just over that period is guaranteed to incense everyone. Quite simply, if there is doubt or disagreement then the decision has to be “off.” Most of the on or off sagas are because of frost, when there is often someone at the home club who is convinced the game can go ahead. Usually accompanied by the time honoured “The front lawn at home was perfectly playable” or “We play on worse than this in April” this ensures the away team and supporters make an often awkward journey...........for nothing.

Top of my list of ridiculous late postponements is a semi-final in the Pilkington Cup between Wasps and Harlequins. Pre-match communication with Wasps, as a very dodgy spell of cold weather was coming to an end, suggested they thought conditions would have improved and were keen to play. I made it clear that if there was any difference of opinion then there was no chance of starting. Sure enough, after travelling to London by train, I arrived at the ground to find hundreds streaming away and the Harlequins already disappeared. The teams had made the inevitable decision ninety minutes beforehand. There was still a belief amongst the mad few that play would have been possible, mainly because the pitch did not look white, but it was absolutely rock hard.

Senior rugby, professional, spectator sport that it is, should be capable of dealing with frozen weekends, but in the lower leagues a rather amateur “We used to play in worse than this” attitude still exists which really has no place in 2018 thinking.

DWM 8/1/2018 (9)

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