First Week

A lot of cool things have happened.  Monday, I did a bit on the concept2 and stairmaster and ran some sprints at the University of Limerick gym – not a bad facility at all, think I may get a membership when I move to that side of town next week!  Tuesday, lifted with free weights for the first time in like a year whilst a couple other referees trained with their S&C coach.  (Sorry but I ain’t naming names.)  That evening, I attended my first M.A.R. weekly meeting at the Castletroy Hotel, got the sweetest set of kit of all time, and an IRFU panel ref showed some clips on the breakdown.  Everyone was very kind and welcoming.  Wednesday, I was invited by the local referee coach to come run the line for him that afternoon at Glenstal, and afterwards he introduced me to a former Irish international/British & Irish Lion and his lovely wife.  (I pretended to be normal and not know who he was while I almost peed my pants!)  Wednesday evening was my first official assignment… as AR2 at THOMOND PARK – on the main pitch, under the lights!  It’s a shame the weather was so cold and wet because the kids had to be better handlers than what was displayed.  Still a cracking game, and I nearly cried during time off for an injury in the second half, just so overwhelmed by the emotion of actually being there.  (Don’t worry, I checked myself before I wrecked myself! 🙂  Thursday, I went back out to UL to see a Munster training!!  Saw all my heroes and mancrushes up close!!!  It was crazy fast and intense, but still amusing to see lads wearing beanies with the pom-pom on top making tackles haha.  Only took one photo: at the very end when they were all huddled up.  At some point I hope I get to hear the team sing, “Stand Up And Fight.”  That night I went again to my buddy’s parents’ house to play Texas Hold-Em!  Won the first couple hands but they took my ten euro again – whatever it’s great craic.  Friday, I reviewed a webinar I’m hosting for my home society in a couple days (about Space and Positioning,) and watched Nadal play in the ATP final tournament – he won the match but not well enough to go though to the semifinals.  C’est la vie I reckon.

Today, the reason I made this trip finally arrived.  I refereed my first game here.  It was so special in so many ways, it warrants its own post.  Actually I did post about it on Facebook, maybe that counts…

For now, I must rest.  Attempted to see Damien Dempsey’s sold-out show tonight at Dolan’s Warehouse after watching the second half of Ospreys v Munster at a pub with lots of other excited people (they mauled in the bonus point try at the end!!), but my buddy’s last-minute attempt to get me on the list was just a wee bit too late.  No big whoop though, went to Bobby Byrne’s and got fish and chips for dinner again!

My match today was nothing short of a gift from God.  Had to consciously not smile too much!  Had a great debrief with the assessor – can’t wait to read the performance review!!  Onwards and upwards!  🙂

Confirmation: This Is Real.

First couple days here have been really good.   The friend I’m staying with had to go referee somewhere this weekend so I ran some errands yesterday.  Walked to mall nearby and got my Irish phone number (did you know Nokia phones still exist?) so I can accept appointments via text and people here can contact me easily.  Also got some groceries!

Last night, I walked less than a mile to see Young Munster play Garryowen.  It cost 10 euro to get in and there were like 2000 people there!  Some locals said it was the biggest AIL game being played this weekend and it was blockbuster, just an incredible atmosphere.  Happy to report that the referee did a wonderful job handling it!

Met some current members of the Munster Association of Referees (pronounced, “emmayarr”) afterwards and I’m eager to join their ranks!  At Tuesday night’s meeting, I’ll pay my society dues, sign some paperwork, get kit, give them my phone number and bank account info so that I can be reimbursed for mileage (32 cents per km I think,) and if I drive over 200? km I get a meal voucher – wasn’t expecting that but I’m grateful!

Went for a run to the River Shannon (it sounds so romantic when you say it like that) this morning and I really like the city.  I’ll be in this neck of the woods for a couple more weeks before I move over to Castletroy, which is right by the University of Limerick and is where our meetings are held.  Found a reasonable airbnb – the host was warned that I’m a smelly athlete who’ll constantly be doing laundry, but she agreed to take me in anyway!

I’ll post an update when something cool happens.  Good night for now 🙂

My Last Match

Tonight, on the turf pitch at Infinity Park in Glendale, Colorado, I ran around with two awesome teams, whose scrums were chatty and giggling through most of the game.  Hard to not smile in moments like that.  It was exciting, too!   Score was Life West 34, New York 31.  Life West will meet Glendale in the final on Sunday.  All I gotta do is hang out with my friends and watch!  It’s been a great weekend so far – just trying to soak it all in and cherish every moment, which I’ve been conscious of all season.   So grateful for all of it – getting the game plan right, quick ball from rucks, traveling and seeing friends, etc.  Equally as grateful for the disappointments and frustrations, because dealing with that stuff is what being a sportsperson is all about.

I began refereeing in 2008, and in November of 2013, I got a call from the late, great Mike Cobb, saying I’d made the National Panel for both 7s and 15s.  We only had a 7s panel for a year but that was pretty special.  There were lots of finals I’ve been trusted to do, but I never got to do a WPL final.  It’s kinda the one that got away – 2015 should’ve been my year, 2016 definitely would’ve been if not for that unfortunate twist of fate (having my knee kicked out from under me.)  But hey!  You control the controllables and accept that NO ONE owes you ANYTHING.  Still pretty sure I have the record for most WPL semifinals (at least 4), and up there for most WPL matches refereed as well, so I had lots of time in many very special games with the top women players in the country.

Anyhow, it’s November 2019, and it’s time to move on from the National Panel.  USA Rugby is evolving, and I’m evolving as a rugby person.  There’s one last challenge to finish out the year and then, at the very least, I can look back and say, I went for it.

The Home Stretch

Leaving the country in 16 days!  But first, my last regular season WPL game in New York on 10/27, then the WPL finals in Glendale 11/1 and 11/3, then I’m off!  Still much to do; move out of my apartment, get paperwork together, turn 40, etc.

I’ll be keeping a blog here about my travels and the rugby and the learnings and what not.  Very excited about the near future!