Pre-Match Tension is as much an issue for referees as it is for players. As we approach big matches the pressure can suddenly be switched on, you dont want to fail.
But this is different for the ref than a player in many ways. Players, coaches and supporters are focused on winning the match. As a ref you are never in the ‘winning’ camp! You are a team of one; a constituency of one!
With several big fixtures ahead this month and next I have been speaking to other Premiership and Championship referees – how do they focus – and what makes them nervous.
For me the pressure comes from within. I am less concerned now with the coaches viewpoint. Not because I am not interested, but because their interpretations are often far from that of the referee (although this does raise the clear need for coaches, senior players and referees to work more closely together to bridge the gaps – to help produce better rugby though better understanding).
This week I am focusing on my key objectives for the game:
1. Enjoy the game
2. Referee assertively and calmly throughout
3. Communicate simply
Approaching the game with the same relaxed mind set as any normal match, ignore the crowd (which is easier with larger crowds as you cant distinguish what is being said) and focus on the moment in front of me.
I also use music during my pre-match warm up, drowning out the noise around me and trying to visualise key aspects of the game.
I also write notes in my ref’s book I have on the field with me for if I remain nervous: “BREATHE!”….