October 19, 2006

Henry wants wants rugby refs: Fans of football and rugby often point out the different ways that referees are treated by players. You'll rarely see a rugby team gathering around a ref in an intimidating way, as so often happens in soccer. But Thierry Henry points out that refs in soccer don't listen to players the way they do in rugby, and wants better communication.

posted by Fence to soccer at 03:44 AM - 11 comments

I also think that football refs should be miked up the same way rugby refs are, so that the fans can hear them too, and understand the decisions that are being made.

posted by Fence at 03:45 AM on October 19, 2006

Henry has got it the wrong way round. In rugby, the refs don't listen to the players, the players listen to the ref. In rugby, when an infringement has been made, the refs call over the player, tell him what he's done wrong, and that's it. There is no arguing because there's no point. The players accept their fate and get on with it. It's not uncommon to hear a 15 stone second-row monster to say "yes sir" after he's been told off by the ref.

posted by afx237vi at 10:29 AM on October 19, 2006

I wonder if the physical dynamics (and laws) of rugby (full contact, grabbing, poking eyeballs is expected) vs soccer (really very constrained, precise tackles allowed) contribute to the intensity of response. I mean, if pretty much anything is allowed, it's kind of easy to call the fouls when they happen, vs something where you have to be more subtle and sophisticated (and sharper) in order to see and call the fouls. In my messy way, I'm saying: Rugby: Straight out physicality, fouls have to be really "egregious" to be called => fewer, clearer calls e.g., Player dives, too bad, so what, doesn't matter if player caught him or not. Dead ball. No foul. Soccer: Constrained physicality, subtle fouls => more, unclear calls e.g., Player dives: Did he dive? Was he tackled? Was it a foul? If yes, do I card the player or the tackler? Was it a red card or yellow card?' Also, I'm thinking maybe rugby players don't have as much pent-up frustration because they can just get that out in the course of the game. Whereas soccer players get frustrated because they get more "wrong" calls, plus they can't just drop the guy on the next play w/o getting sent off. I'm no rugby expert, so would love to hear from rugby fans who can clarify, confirm or disabuse me of this notion.

posted by worldcup2002 at 01:57 PM on October 19, 2006

I wish old Thierry would grow up a bit and stop squealing like a stuck pig every time his team loses. As far as the rugby- football dichotomy goes, I think the greater respect shown to refs has to do with tradition, class, and deference. Rugby is game that was born in the public schools of Great Britain, presumably (I don't actually know) with masters refereeing pupils, so there is an in built deference built in to the tradition; then there is the respect for authority thing. I suppose it's a matter of breeding. Or it could be to do with prefects and fags. Or arse banditry. Football was popularised, if not invented by rude mechanicals, although the toffs dominated in the early years, so the whole deferential thing wasn't there to any great extent. Plus, footballers are thick. I am happy to accept that all of the above may be cobblers. Apart from the last line.

posted by Fat Buddha at 05:35 PM on October 19, 2006

Of course, rugby refs are far superior to their football equivalents. They have no influence on the way the game is played, they always let the game flow and hardly ever use their whistle. Further, none of them are ever publicity- seeking trivia hounds. "Look at me, look at me, those 40,000 people all came to watch me and my detailed knowledge of offences at the breakdown. Oh how I like it when a match is decided on a penalty for a minor offense that no one else saw in the last minute of play!" And if that prat Jonathan Kaplan was ever on a bike outside the Sydney Football Stadium following a Waratahs match, you would have never heard of Lance Armstrong. /rant

posted by owlhouse at 05:39 PM on October 19, 2006

I'm not sure that the calls in rugby are fewer, or clearer. For a soccer ref there's not that much to call beyond illegal tackles, it's just that those are frequently very tricky calls. Rugby has a lot more rules to enforce, and a lot of the time they're very hard to judge. Hands in the ruck? Hard to say when there's a mass of bodies piled on top. Knock-on? It's easy to miss. Forward pass? That's incredibly subjective. This is not eve mentioning the problems associated with running a safe scrum or with play advantage. I think the difference is, soccer has one tough call to make, and it's almost always subjective. Rugby has a lot more rules to enforce, and the increased contact with the players just leads to a bette relationship.

posted by Bulgaroktonos at 08:19 PM on October 19, 2006

I agree with the Owl. The best refs are those that let the game flow. If he does his job well everyone remembers the game, not the "idiot in the middle with the whistle". I am a soccer player, but have played rugby and been to the rugby parties (crazy to say the least). The biggest difference that I see is RESPECT for the referee. The bigger, stronger rugby players see him as a necessary enforcement and his rules are final. Soccer players think they can somehow flex their opinions and influence the refs decision. Imagine if a rugby player faked an injury to get a call, or needed a stretcher to come back in less than three minutes later. He would get the crap kicked out of him BY HIS OWN TEAM!

posted by urall cloolis at 10:39 PM on October 19, 2006

I don't think that class, or the origins have much to do with it. There are plenty of GAA players here that also play rugby at underage. And while they will act up for the GAA refs, who are more like soccer ones imo, they won't for the rugby refs. Because they know that it won't be tolerated. I think that Henry is a bit of a moaner, but he does have a point. There is a lot more communication between the ref and the players in rugby. The ref is constantly talking to them, and the players do talk back, although in a much more conversational style. Asking what they did, rather than declaring "it wasn't me". It's not uncommon to hear a 15 stone second-row monster to say "yes sir" after he's been told off by the ref. afx237vi that is something that always makes me smile when I'm watching rugby.

posted by Fence at 09:11 AM on October 20, 2006

Fence, I don't agree that rugby refs communicate more. When I played, at a very undistinguished level, the ref would not speak to anyone but the captain. If anyone else tried to speak he would be told, in peremptory tones, to go away. The ref would speak to the captain, but only to explain his decision, it wouldn't exactly be a dialogue. I approve, as it happens.

posted by Fat Buddha at 03:01 PM on October 20, 2006

Probably depends on the ref and the game, but I've often seen the players ask about why a call went a certain way and the ref, in the majority of cases, is more than willing to explain. Of course rugby has a lot of more technical aspects to it, so that might be the reason.

posted by Fence at 08:30 AM on October 21, 2006

I believe that it is down to how players a taught the game, from an early age rugby player are punished for disrespectful behaviour, and in a game were are penalty can mean conceding points it is an infringement that professionals cant afford to give away. Footballers on the other hand are encouraged to cheat and dive for penalties. So I believe that football should take more action against this

posted by Daley at 03:37 PM on November 11, 2006

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