American Ref Handles Test Match
Tuesday Jun 23, 2009 in Off the Field Laws
(Photo courtesy Romania RFU)
USA Rugby Referee Chris Draper became USA Rugby's only active referee to officiate a full men's Test Match between two Top-20 teams this weekend as he covered the 29-26 Russian victory over Uruguay on Finals Day of the Nations Cup in Bucharest, Romania.
At the age of 29, Chris was the second-youngest referee at the Tournament, which has been used as a proving ground for developing iRB Referees.
"I have a hard time believing there is a more thrilling experience within our sport than being involved in a full Test," says Draper. "Especially in a match like this, where the outcome could have gone either way up until the final whistle, you understand the importance of every decision you have to make."
Of these was the potentially controversial decision to temporarily suspend Russian substitute prop Karlo Maglakelidze in the 36th minute of the second half. After both a warning for cumulative team infractions and a specific warning regarding side-entry at the breakdown, Maglakelidze ignored Draper's instructions and thwarted a Uruguayan attack within 15m of the goal by entering from the side of a breakdown.
"It is a really helpless feeling as a referee to see a player about to commit an offense, and after instructing him not to - just to watch him keep going - knowing the only option left to you could significantly change the outcome of the match," says Draper.
Nearly eight minutes later, it looked like Uruguay would make the most of its one-man advantage. Attacking within the 22m well into injury time and poised to score with an overload on the outside, it was a dropped ball by Uruguay that brought on the final whistle.
"Russia and Uruguay put out two teams on the day that fought hard until the final whistle," says Draper. "It was an honor to be out there among those players."
With the victory, Russia moved up one spot in the iRB World Rankings to #16, expanding their lead to 5 spots over Uruguay who fell to #21.