The “Woman Touch Judge”

12 10 2008

So, okay, “The Organization” is rugby. I’m giving up hiding that because what happened today cannot be ignored. I’m pissed. Or at least I was. So anyway, I play rugby, an am administrative slave, and occasionally I like to go out and “run touch.” Run touch means you’re kind of an official… sort of. You’re called a Touch Judge (TJ). You walk or run along the side line, aka the line of “touch” – if the ball crosses this line, or a player carrying the ball crosses or touches the line, the ball is “in touch.” This means there is a line out, where a player throws in the ball, and well, it’s complicated.

I’ve been doing this for YEARS. And I’ve gained a local reputation for being quite honest & good at this. There are local refs that will ask me to run touch during games. I take that as a compliment, and I truly try to be good at this job and not favor either team. I have never, EVER had a complaint about my touch judging. EVER. In days past, USA Rugby would certify touch judges. Unfortunately, they don’t do that anymore. But I have the certification course book and I read it a before each season and a few times during, along with the laws.

Out men had a game today and I was running touch. The first issue came when one of our players was kicking for the extra points after you score a try. A conversion. His kick came really, really close to being no good. But by one width of a ball, the kick was good. And myself and the other team’s TJ said it was good also. The other team’s captain (aka #3) complained about the “Woman Touch Judge.” I walked away.

The next incident involved a kick for touch. It’s hard to judge this sometimes, but I thought I marked it right. But #3 complained AGAIN about the  “Woman Touch Judge.” The FINAL complaint was when their player kicked for touch, the ball crossed the try line and went into touch-in-goal. I called it as such. This results into a 22-meter drop kick. AGAIN #3 complained and asked for a new touch judge.

I then called one of my club’s players in touch. Right before he scored a try. Resulting in my team losing the ball!!! I could have totally ignored it, because it took the ref about 2 minutes to realize I was holding my flag up, indicating the ball went into touch.

The next break was the half break. And the ref came up to me and basically told me that he had no doubt my calls were right, but to “avoid the illusion of impropriety”,  he was asking me to back out of my job. He then went and told #3 the same thing – that I made NO BAD CALLS. BUT I WAS STILL REMOVED FROM THE JOB.

Fast forward to the social at our bar later. The other team’s players told me they thought what #3 did was WRONG (even though they thought I called things wrong. DUMB.), and that I deserved an aplogy. Well, I got the apology, but it’s not enough. I think the men’s team are filing a complaint with our local regulating board.

I spoke with a few well-seasoned players on my team (even the guy I said went into touch, taking away his try!), and they know how honest I am, and that I try very hard to do a good job. And they all agreed that it was insane for that ref to call me out, and not yell, or penalize #3.

I’m over it now, because I have faith in my ability to be a TJ. I know I’m good at it. And I appreciate the support my guys gave me. I’m proud of them for standing up for me. And now, after this horrendous blog post, I’m much happier.

Now I’m off to polyurethane the bar. Yay.