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The Sideline Whisperer
 
 
More questionnaires....
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Ken Handley
Born in Wales. Ken is a grade C1 referee. He lives in Orlando, Orange County.
You may contact him at 407 280 6601 or [email protected].
 
Sir, may I ask you a question?
Updated on 11/1/2018

Tell us a little about yourself: age, place of birth, current occupation.

—I was born at a young age in Neath, South Wales back in 1970 which makes me currently 48 years old. I used to be a member of HM Coastguard Coastal Rescue Team. I own a plumbing business here in Central Florida, called 14 Plumbing Leak Detection LLC.

What is you background as a rugby player?

—I started my rugby career in 1977 as a scrum half and also played every position in the backs. I was the Secretary of The Florida Rugby Referees Association. I have played for many teams in the South Wales area. I coached Port Talbot's Premier club sides junior team Aberavon RFC Juniors. I also coached Orlando RFC after a few years of Refereeing in Florida but now find myself back in the middle.

Why did you decide to become a referee?

—I became a Referee when I coached Aberavon RFC Junior Section back in 2003. I was coached by Nigel Owens and Dai Arthur with the Welsh Rugby Union, until I moved to the USA to play football with Orlando Rage, where I finished my career as a Running Back after playing American Football with South Wales Warriors NFL - UK, becoming a British American Football Champion in 2011 after winning BritBowl XXV.

Did you have some kind of mentor?

—Nigel Owens and Dai Atrhur (WRU) were my mentors. I loved watching Clive Norling, Derek Bevan, Nigel Whitehouse and Huw Watkins officiate club and cup games back in Wales when I was younger.

Do you remember your first game as a referee? How did it go? Any funny or special memory?

—My first game was Tonmawr v Kenfig Hill. A funny story about that game was Ray Giles former Welsh scrum half was penalized for being off side, to which he disagreed verbally, so I wanted to take control of this situation and sent his team Kenfig Hill back 10 metres. He again said nasty things about me, something about me being the sort of person who enjoys self pleasuring. Again I was not going to tolerate this behaviour so I called him to me and said enough! You cannot talk to me like this, he then asked if it was ok for him to think these thoughts about me, to which I replied, you can think whatever you like. He started to retreat back the 10 metres and left me with this quote, "Ref, I think your a wanker!" The game continued in good spirits.

What was the most memorable screw up?

—In my opinion, I never have screwed up. Seriously though, I've made a few mistakes from being in the wrong part of the play. Positioning yourself correctly is a must on a rugby pitch or you will make silly errors all game long.

Which is the one game you most remember of your career?

—Most memorable game, Neath v Newport at the Gnoll Neath with Simon Harris and Chris William's both WRU. I did the Mens Elite Final in Miami South Florida between Mexico and Caribs in 2015. I have done NSCRO Finals too. I know that is more than one game, but my rugby memory goes back to 1977!

How well do players and coaches in Florida know the laws of the game?

—I think that most players & coaches know the fundamentals ok, but 99% trust the referees judgment. There are the crossover players from football who can have a slightly different attitude at first but the teams educate these players quite quickly and they either learn and adapt or leave the game. Womens rugby is slower but their efforts to be technically correct far supersede mens efforts, that doesnt mean however that these girls wont put in a big hit on you.

What is your opinion in general of the attitude of players towards the referees in Florida?

—Players and coaches in general show great respect to rugby referees, they do however expect the referee to have done his or her homework to know the laws of the game. It's a competitive sport and tempers can flare up quite easily. A good referee will know how to handle this without losing complete control. I think the sad part is too many referees have never played a game of rugby and dont have "THE FEEL" for the game and can spoil flowing rugby by blowing up too quickly, when playing advantage would have been a better option.

As a referee, have you made more friends or foes?

—I am not aware of any foes that I have made in rugby, I have made only friends. Even off the field a rugby players reputation is one of toughness and respect in equal measure.

Does being able to watch a game on video help you improve your skills?

—Watching games on video definitely helps with a referees skills. It's like anything, you get to see your mistakes and how best to avoid them in future games.

What are the most rewardings aspects of being a referee? And the least?

—The most rewarding aspect for me as a referee is I am still able to participate in a rugby match at the age of 48. Also the camaraderie of the rugby community is second to none. You can mention the "R" word in most countries and make a friend in a heartbeat. The least rewarding aspect is I'm not a player anymore, I loved playing a lot but as I age rugby is not over....not quite yet!

If you have had the opportunity to ref a match oversees, how was that experience?

—I have enjoyed officiating games both in Europe and North America and have enjoyed both equally. Consistency is key! I am looking forward to Refereeing in China in late 2019, more to come on this when it's confirmed. I would like to add, if any rugby authorities are reading this, I'm available to travel, just give me a call. 😜

What would you tell a player to encourage him becoming a referee?

—I would tell any player to become a referee, but don't try to be one in my game! Do it after the match has finished! It's not that hard to keep an eye on 30 active players all doing different legal and not so legal activities whilst remembering math, time for game and yellow cards and counting permanent and temporary substitutions. All this whilst the supporters chant choruses of support for you.

Any final thoughts or comments about being a rugby referee?

—I can't imagine any reason why somebody wouldn't want to give something back to the sport of rugby after their playing days. Rugby has given me a world of memories and amazing friends, I can't ever see a reason to quit. KEEP YOUR SENSE OF HUMOUR!

 

Code updated: 08/17/2017 19:04

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