Retired rugby ref hits out at Dawson’s comments

Action from Raiders' match with Old Albanian on Saturday
Action from Raiders' match with Old Albanian on Saturday

A RETIRED rugby referee has hit out at Worthing Raiders Rugby Club head coach Kieron Dawson for his comments after Saturday’s 32-31 defeat to Old Albanian in National 1.

Dawson was highly criticial of the referee after the match when he felt his side should have been awarded a late penalty to win the game.

Click here to read what Dawson said after the match.

In response to those comments, Phil Challen, a retired rugby referee, said: “On December 14, the Herald/Gazette reported coach Dawson’s fury at a “shocking” refereeing error that cost his side, Worthing Raiders, their game against Old Albanian. This report was your second most viewed item as at 1.15pm on December 16, so I feel it is important to set the record straight on behalf of the referee, whose capabilities have unfairly been impugned.

“Far from the referee making a mistake, coach Dawson chose to display his ignorance of rugby’s laws in print. The referee got the decision absolutely right, and coach Dawson only moans about it because his own “shocking” awareness of the laws of the game he coaches does not match that expected of a low-grade referee, or indeed of a coach operating many levels below Worthing Raiders’ exalted position.

“Dawson is quoted as saying: “We had a free kick, we took it quickly, they didn’t go back ten, so it changes it to a full-on penalty seven yards in front of the posts, with the score 32-31 ... he’s made a complete howler ... the only man who doesn’t know the law seems to be the referee ... today was a great game of rugby spoiled by the referee”. This is where Dawson’s knowledge is woefully deficient. Law 21.8 covers the situation. It stipulates a second free kick 10m ahead of the first, not a full kickable penalty. Had the referee acted as Dawson suggests, the opposition would have had every reason to take him to task for “spoiling the game” by changing the true result.

“So we now have the coach of a National League side speaking to the media to cast ignorant, unwarranted and inaccurate aspersions regarding the abilities of a highly-capable referee, in a diatribe against a volunteer official who got his decisions spot on.

“This places the coach firmly in violation of the RFU’s code of conduct and its respect agenda. The referee deserves a printed apology from Dawson, who should hang his head in shame and remember he coaches rugby, not football.”

Ian Cook, of, also contacted the Herald/Gazette and said: “In actual fact, the referee has not “made a complete howler’, he was absolutely correct in Law!


“Sanction: Any infringement by the opposing team results in a second free kick, awarded 10 metres in front of the mark for the first kick. This mark must not be within five metres of the goal line. Any player may take the kick. If the referee awards a second free kick, the second free kick is not taken before the referee has made the mark indicating the place of the free kick.”