Penney: Refs should use us to improve

Rob Penney has called for better communication between coaches and referees, having admitted he has no idea if his obligatory post-match reports on officials ever reach the men in the middle.

Munster were left frustrated by Alain Rolland’s handling of the scrum last weekend in their RaboDirect Pro12 derby defeat to Leinster, feeling they were not properly rewarded for their dominance.

The Munster boss believes match officials need to be better educated, feedback from coaches being an integral part of that learning process to eradicate mistakes which can prove costly in high stakes games.

“I’d love to think we could all work together to get the growth required,” Penney said. “I know we put a lot of effort into referee’s reports and we have what I hope is good feedback going back to them.

“You’d love to think that was all being passed on to the referees and was being discussed deeply, because we do put the effort in. But I do query whether there’s been the in-depth support or education for the referees when they’re busy men themselves.

“Some of them aren’t professional or full-time but at the end of the day their decisions cost money, cost livelihoods, so it’s a position that needs to be treated with a great deal of respect... it’s a dynamic game and there’s so many laws within it. You’re not going to get them right all the time but ongoing education and dialogue between coaching, refereeing and administration needs to be at the highest level, continuing.

“And it needs to be done in a way that people aren’t defensive about it so that we can get the end result we all want [which] is the right result and the game played that gives us a great spectacle. Errors will occur and everyone will live with that because of the complexity of the game but I think there’s room for growth.”

Penney said the league coaches’ refereeing reports had to be forwarded to the official’s home union but asked if he was convinced anybody was reading them, he replied: “No. I’ve asked a couple of referees, not from Ireland, but other countries, ‘have you seen the reports we’ve sent?’, and they’ve said ‘no’ so that’s an issue in itself. It’s a shame.

Highly regarded Welsh referee Nigel Owens (pictured left) takes charge of Saturday’s Heineken Cup quarter-final with Toulouse and while Penney is keen to try and ensure his forwards were rewarded for any dominance at the scrum, he admitted he was unsure whether pre-match conversations with officials were the wise course of action any longer.

“It worries me because sometimes you have a coffee and you think it’s very open and legitimate and you try to highlight areas in which you think are going to be of contention. Those areas crop up and you don’t get your reward and you think ‘Jeez, maybe I shouldn’t have highlighted that because he’s gone the other way’.

“They’re humans who just try to do their best. I’ve met referees numerous times and I don’t know what’s the right thing to do.”

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