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100 for Whistle Blowing Wall

Thu, 07/07/2022, 5:23 am
Rugby Vic Media
by Rugby Vic Media
100 for Wall
100 for Wall

The Dewar Shield 100 Club welcomes its newest referee this weekend, with David Wall set to oversee the Harlequins and Power House Dewar Shield clash.

Becoming just the sixth (recorded) Victorian referee to achieve the feat, we sat down with David this week to hear some old war stories.

Rugby Victoria (RV): How did your refereeing journey begin?

David Wall (DW): I started refereeing with the Hong Kong Referees Association when I was living in China, I was playing with an expat team at the time.

Referees were hard to get, so I would be asked to pick up the whistle if needed, mainly because I had an idea of the laws. Then when I was at a tournament as a player some of my refereeing colleagues staged an intervention saying "we have watched you play and you are a much better referee." It has been a fantastic journey with international and interstate exchanges, participating in IRB and Super Rugby games and being involved in Rugby at a much higher level than I ever would of as a player.  RV: Did you ever imagine you would be around long enough as a ref to reach this milestone? What was it about the experience that has kept you involved for so long? 

DW: Yes and No. I think I have been very lucky as a referee that I started pretty young and have always just enjoyed being part of the game. You get to run around for 80 mins, be involved in a great game, make a thousand decisions, most right, some wrong.  Then afterwards have a beer and a chat. I am hoping to still be doing that for many more years to come. I have had 2 refereeing careers.

I was part of the Dewar shield group from 2003 and around 2007 I stopped refereeing for a few years. I stopped enjoying it. What brought me back was my friendships in the referee community. For a few years I just refereed juniors and schools and rediscovered the enjoyment for the game. Then after a couple of seasons I moved back to the Dewar panel and am still running around now.

The deal I have with my wife is I have to come home happy. If not then its time to give up. It is wanting to contribute to the the game we love that gets you involved in refereeing, it is being welcome and respected in the rugby community keeps you turning up each week and it is the friends I have made that keep me connected and wanting to stay involved for the last 20 years and the next 20.

Rugby refereeing is my sport, I hope I am still running around until I can't anymore. Then I will be on the sidelines coaching the next generation of referees.  Rugby Refereeing is a sport for life. 

RV: 100 Dewar games is quite impressive. How does refereeing a Dewar match compare to refereeing lower grades or even juniors? What's the major differences? 

DW: It is the feel of the game and what everyone is trying to achieve. A referee is like a conductor in the orchestra, we don't play the music but we have tofacilitate and moderate the tune.  In a juniors and the lower grades it is about helping the play develop, reward thepositive to create a great game.

In a Dewar Shield game the players know what they are doing and are playing to a game plan so it is about managing the negative andcyclical actions to give the players who want to play positive rugby the chance to do so. Every game is a different puzzle to solve to reach its potential, the craft of refereeing is to try solve what that puzzle is and unlock the game and let it shine. 

RV: Which match stands out in your mind as the most memorable and why? 

DW: So many and for different reasons. I have had a different career to the 5 others who have achieved this milestone. They are great referees, each of them has done multiple Dewar grand finals and the match of the round games. I have not done a Dewar Shield final or anything like the high performance they have achieved.

Most of my games have been the arm wrestles that don't make the headlines, the grudge match of 6 vs 7 that last time has an all in brawl, 4 vs 5 in the last round for that last final spot and not just at Dewar shield level but also Premiership, Country, U18's, Colts, schools and juniors. I have had great days with every club here in Victoria when all 31 of us created something special on the field and some where I stood in the bar afterwards by myself to reflect on what was a tough day at the office. 

RV: They say you're not a real referee until you issue your first red card...do you remember your first red and what the incident was?

DW: No I don't unfortunately, I remember my first all in brawl and gave 4 read cards and 5 yellows afterward and the rest of the game was basically a game of 10's.

RV: One piece of advice for a young whistle blower starting out? 

DW: Anyone who has done a referee course with me has heard this question - "think of the best game of rugby you have ever played or seen, what was the role of the referee? Now think of the worst game and the referee. Which do you want to be?"

Our role is to make sure the game is Safe, Fair and Fun for everyone involved. Focus on that and the rest will come.

On behalf of Rugby Victoria, we congratulate you on your milestone David. Go well!

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