by Ciarán Ó Flaithearta
At the age of just 20 years old Eoin Staunton is the youngest Referee affiliated with Galwegians.
About six months ago Eoin began his journey to become a referee. The decision came following a loss of interest in the playing aspect of the game. Having spent 14 years playing with Galwegians joining at the age of 6, rugby had a strong place in Eoin’s life but he had begun to lose interest following a year with the 20s.
Rather than hanging up his boots, Eoin took an alternative route to stay involved in the club.
When a message came out from the committee that the Connacht branch were to be running referee courses Eoin said he’d chance his arm at refereeing. “One of the guys showed me the link to the reffing course and I said sure why not I’ll give it a go. I went and did the course and I learned a lot, and now I really enjoy reffing.”
Following his decision to start refereeing Eoin underwent 2 months of online modules on the laws of the game and on how to identify concussion.
Once these modules were completed Eoin went on to touch judge two games before taking charge of his first U13s game which took him by surprise “It was a high enough pace and the game kind of flowed because both teams had a real willingness to play rugby.”
Fitness is a key part of being a good referee for Eoin. “You have to be able to keep up with the play, because if something happens you have you be there to make the decision”.
When starting up college with ATU, Eoin returned to athletics where he trains as a middle-distance runner. “I do athletics with the college and that kind of training would keep me fairly fit for reffing. Some of the stuff I do in training would be similar to what I would do in match situation”.
As a ref, you get to see the fun side of rugby and the banter between teams. While reffing a recent Wegians vs Jes game Eoin had plenty of moments when he had to “hold back on laughing”, as both sides were very familiar with each other with and some players playing for both sides. Eoin recalls one player asking the other to “ease off a bit” in the scrum.
Since qualifying Eoin has been in action most weekends, sometimes taking charge of 2 games a day which he says can take its physical toll. “You can definitely feel it in the legs”.
Staunton is very much enjoying his switch to refereeing and even though he is taking it one match at a time, he one day hopes to progress from club level.
“I guess I’m just taking it day by day and listening to those more experienced people and just trying to improve after every performance. Eventually I would like this to be a career”.
For Eoin it’s a great way to stay involved with the sport without actually playing and that’s why he thinks more people should get into refereeing. “I would definitely recommend that people to get into reffing a lot more. It’s not the easiest job in the world but you definitely get enjoyment out of it”.
And it’s not just about your own enjoyment. Eoin says it’s great for the next generation of rugby players too. “For younger age groups you’re kind of like their coach. You’re coaching them on how to play. Not only do you benefit but you know you’re helping someone else benefit from getting experience and improving them for when they get older”.
If you have an interest in becoming a referee or would like to learn more please contact your local branch officer. https://www.connachtrugby.ie/rugby-in-connacht/become-a-referee/194/