The TRRA Board worked on a two-part solution: (1) Providing adequate training to new referees and (2) Promoting player/referees or “Dual-Track athletes”.
The first part of this solution was spearheaded by TRRA Chairman Tim O’Gara – Referee Development Camps.
These camps are held across the state, typically following a recent World Rugby Level 1 Officiating Course, as a stepping stone for those brand-new to refereeing to train on the pitch, both with teams and with other officials. At the camps new referees experience picking up the whistle and taking the center along with simulations and trainings on the adjoining pitch. Tim O’Gara recalls the challenge put on him by Kenny Forehand, “We had to change the culture associated with the role of the CMO. We need to design a practice that’s as challenging as any competitive team would expect on [Tuesday/Thursday]. When refs come to a development camp it’s as challenging as any rugby practice they would go to.” The TRRA hosted four Referee Development camps in 2019 – Denton, Abilene, Katy, and Alvin, TX.
The Denton fixture was the kickoff event for these series of camps. Five CMO’s (certified Coaching of Match Officials individuals) along with four experienced referees took to the fields to train 12 new referees, the majority of which were certified in Dallas the weekend before at the TRU Summit. Brad DuLong, a member of Alliance Rugby Club, attended the camps before beginning to accept assignments on his own. “The biggest thing the ref camps helped with was having a course set up with multiple stops and a different penalty calls at each stop. This helped me when running up on a situation game time to make a solid call with knowledge. There were times we had added player/refs yelling at us which helped make us focus on the situation at hand.” Brad has been able to put that practice into play often, as he lives in the North [Dallas/Fort Worth Area] where the referee crisis is largest.