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The Sideline Whisperer
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Kenny Handley
Born in Wales. Kenny is a grade C1 referee. He lives in Winter Park, Orange County.
You may contact him at 407 280 6601 or [email protected].
Sir, may I ask you a question?
Updated on 12/11/2014 7:46:32 PM

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 44 years old. 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 am currently the Secretary of The Florida Rugby Referees Association. I have played for many teams in the South Wales area.

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 with the Welsh Rugby Union.

Did you have some kind of mentor?

—Nigel Owens and Dai Atrhur (WRU) were my mentors.

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.

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

—Most memorable game, Neath v Newport at the Gnoll Neath with Simon Harris

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.

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.

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.

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 44. 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.

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!

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!

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.


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