Ref’s Call – Paul Kilonzo

To be or not to be a referee

Part 1


Is being a match official is a calling? What does it take?

I’m probably the fourth generation of referees that the Mwamba club has produced over the years.

Those before me refereed with the game’s old rules. The game of rugby has since changed and become professional in many parts of the world.

To be a good referee one will need a cool head, knowledge of the game, people skills and a willingness to learn.

To aquire these skill set, one needs to keep up their training schedule and adapt to the changing needs of the game in terms of time, commitment & physical demands.

This will enable you have the presence to deal with the bad and good days on the pitch and still pick your self up and move on.

As my refereeing comes to it sunset days, I would like to pay tribute to those who came before me in no partucular order except my memories: Chris Kariuki, John Gichinga, Tom Oketch, Alex Mahugu, Silverster Ashioya, Ian Amangola, and Osborne Bulemi .

Our contribution to the game no doubt has left an impact on the game as a referee, being the sole judge of fact and of Law, is one of the pillars of the game of rugby. 

Part 2

Having played all my club rugby at Mwamba RFC, most, if not all of my refereeing attributes were based on the skills & concepts acquired as a player at the club. This not only created a bias on how l loved to see the game played but also how I officiated it.

Traditionally, most match officials are former players and so we carry our playing experiences into refereeing sometimes with success and other times without much success.

In the old days we joined the Rugby Referees Society pretty much by invitation by former team mates who were now referees or we got head-hunted by society members who thought as a players, we were keen on law.

That was then. Now the society has to literary recruit members. The idea of refereeing has lost its appeal among today’s players, yet, the game has gone professional and all sorts of opportunities are now available to upcoming referees.

Globally the numbers of referees is not getting any better thanks to professionalism & by extension demands from of the game, the crowed, the respective teams/clubs & above all the assessors.

So does the match official have a future ?

Yes, l do believe there is a future. Today’s match official has these working tools that if well handled should see them into the future

Other than the law book, there are three levels of training, performance evaluators, assessors and coaches, not to mention technology!