Former A Panel referee Aruna Ranaweera as course instructor
In an effort to elevate its constituents’ rugby IQ, the West Coast Rugby Conference sponsored representatives from member teams to a USA Rugby touch judge certification course, held at the University of San Francisco on Jan. 10. The offer, which refunded the attendee’s course registration fee, was available to each of the eight women’s colleges, and four – Humboldt, UN Reno, Santa Clara, St. Mary’s College – took advantage.
“So it’s free,” asked course facilitator Aruna Ranaweera, a recently retired USA Rugby A Panel referee from the Northern California Rugby Referee Society. “Why aren’t there more people here?
“All the best teams and players learn the laws,” Ranaweera continued. “It gives you a competitive advantage that the lesser teams fail to comprehend when the opportunity arises during play.”
Ranaweera went on to comment that the players attending the course would be better able to recognize and exploit opportunities as they presented themselves during a game, than someone unfamiliar with the many aspects of the laws related to touch and touch in-goal.
During the three-hour course attendees learned the finer points of when the ball is in touch; when a quick throw-in is available; what constitutes a formed lineout; who has the throw at the lineout when a ball is caught in touch from a kick; when a player in touch in-goal can touch down a ball; and much more.
Catalina Leon, a Humboldt State recent graduate, when asked why she was attending, said, “I love the game, I love the sport. My team asked me and I gladly said yes.”
Santa Clara’s Ihu Erondu said, “I wanted to be part of the game while recovering from injury and couldn’t play, so I could do something for my team.”
The classroom work included video snippets demonstrating various scenarios, group question and answer, and interactive demonstration of appropriate touch judge responses. Occasionally, Referee Instructor Aruna would explicitly note a gem of information that would enhance and improve a player’s knowledge on the pitch beyond serving as a Touch Judge.
The occasion marked the the first time the West Coast Rugby Conference sponsored teams to certify members as USA Rugby Touch Judges. With half of the conference having sent representatives, the initiative was deemed a success and will continue next year, with the intent of helping teams develop their players and improve touch judging for all conference league games during the season.
Rowan Clark summed up the morning, saying, “I definitely have learned a lot already.”