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USRFR HONORARY SECRETARY ANNUAL REPORT FOR 2013-14


The Society AGM was held May 2013 when Mr (Bill) Halliday was duly elected to serve as the Incoming Society President for 2013/14. Our 52nd President.

As normal, our first gathering for the new season, was our annual Conference. Held once again, at Ravenhill on Sunday 18 August 2013. David Wilkinson, RDO IRFU delivered a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting training programme, which included the new Scrum law; 'Crouch, Bind, Set'. Our assessors conducted their own programme in the afternoon, professionally organized by Yack Young.

Our new Referees Beginners course took place on the previous Saturday. This course also took place at Ravenhill with David Wilkinson and John Crothers once again in charge. This Beginners course was repeated in 26 January 2014. Overall 26 people attended both Beginners Courses, this season. John is to be congratulated for personally running this scheme and finding suitable games for each and every one of them, thereafter.

The Society Governance has been re-written and updated. This involved Stuart Gaffikin (our Honorary Treasurer) concurrently chairing the Business & Finance sub committee. Likewise, the Honorary Secretary now also Chairs the Administration sub committee. Its perhaps fitting at this stage that we should formally record our thanks to Trevor Salmon OBE having successfully been the Society Honorary Treasurer for over X years. We all wish him well in his retirement.

On the training and development front, David Wilkinson RDO continues to deliver for all levels of active referees within Ulster. David Armstrong, as Chair of our Management subcommittee, expertly controls the 'day to day' running of the USRFR. This subcommittee usually meets once a month. Our Social Activities subcommittee Chairman is Oisin Quinn. Who quietly goes about his business organizing our Annual Dinner, Charity Support, Golf Outing and anything else that arises Socially. Jack Young superbly chairs the Operations sub committee which deals with such wide ranging issues as Discipline, Selection, Assessment, Coaching, Re-grading, as well as nominations to IPAS & the AIL Referee Panels. Oversight and holding our Management sub committee to account is our Council, which meets approximately 3 times per annum. In business speak, our council is very broadly equivalent to a board of Trustees.

I am delighted to report on the progress of our top referees as follows:

David Wilkinson has had another good season. He has refereed six Pro 12 Games, including another full inter - pro when Leinster played Connacht in the RDS. He refereed his first Top 14 game in France, Racing Metro v Grenoble, as well as refereeing a tier two international when Russia took on Romania in the Nations Cup. David was also involved at ERC Level refereeing regularly in the Amlin Challenge Cup and was Assistant Referee for the Heineken Cup Quarter Final in Clermont v Leicester.
Michael Black has had a superb season in what will now be his final season as a National Panel referee and was rightly voted Winemark Referee of the Year. He refereed regularly this season in the UBL Division 1A and was invited out to Georgia to referee in their end of season play-offs. His Touch Judging is well respected across the ERC scene and was involved in 7 rounds of European Competition. Fine performances with whistle and flag have seen him appointed as Assistant Referee in his first full test match - Japan v Samoa.
Stuart Gaffikin has continued to develop as an IRFU Contracted Referee, refereeing regularly at UBL Division 1A. He was rewarded for his performances when he was appointed to referee in the British and Irish Cup. He was also heavily involved at ERC Level as an Assistant Referee in both the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup. Stuart also refereed the A Inter-Pro between the Ravens and Leinster A.
Mark Patton has once again shown that he is an established UBL Division 1 A refereeing most of the season at this level. He is also a highly regarded Assistant Referee and was appointed to all 6 rounds of the pool stages of European competition, including the Leicester v Montpellier game in Welford Road. He was also Assistant Referee for several inter-pros this season including the Leinster vs Connacht game.
Jonny Peak has had a very good season and at the second time of asking (due to his RBAI connections) refereed the 2014 Schools Cup Final, when MCB took on Sullivan Upper. Jonny is a very well respected A Panel referee and was appointed as Assistant Referee in this year's Heineken cup including Northampton v Ospreys and Perpignan v Gloucester games.
Richard Kerr continued to demonstrate why he is so highly thought of within Irish refereeing, refereeing regularly at 1st Division level of the UBL and acting as Assistant Referee in the Rabo, the Heineken and Amlin Challenge Cups. Matches included Prato v Stade Francais and Edinburgh v Perpignan. More locally however he was the man in the middle of the huge Schools Cup 1/4 Final tie when RBAI took on MCB at Osborne Park.
Our sole new entrant onto the AIL Panel at the start of this season was Adrian Reavey. He continues to develop and learn his trade as a Level 4 AIL ref. Peter Martin moved onto the Irish Provinces Assessment Panel (IPAS) at Christmas and has come on in 'leaps and bounds'. His only difficulty has been getting around Ireland as he does not yet drive!

On the Social front, our end of season Dinner moved to the Stormont Hotel. Our President spoke well, not least by mentioning 'John, John and Job' from the Bible. Our principle Guest Speaker, Mr Mark Simpson, the well-known and respected local political BBC correspondent, was also most humorous and enlightening.

Perhaps the only difficult note of this season has been the introduction of the IFRU Health & Safety Policy. This effectively stops referees, who are aged 60 years and older, from active participation out on the playing field. This will directly affect up to 16 active referees over the next 4 years. So once again, I appeal to Clubs at all levels, to encourage more personal to pick up the whistle and put something back into this wonderful game called Rugby Football.

I thoroughly enjoy being the Honorary Secretary of the USRFR. But no organization exists without the help and support of its own members. I try to emphasis 'Value the Volunteer' at all times, most notably when distributing numerous e-mails. So to all the Society members, can I personally thank you all for supporting the Society and the Ulster Branch over the last 12 months. It is much appreciated, so I am most happy to repeat.....'Value the Volunteer'.

Finally, it would be most remiss of me if I were not to mention the excellent work that Jill, Lesley and Eleanor along with the rest of the full time staff at Ravenhill do, in supporting all of the Society's business.

That concludes my report and I recommend it accordingly.

S Rankin