Tell us a little about yourself: age, place of birth, current occupation.
—I am 42 years old, and grew up on Long Island, NY. Currently I am the Lead Canine Handler/Field Supervisor for the US Department of Homeland Security Canine Unit – Miami.
What is you background as a rugby player?
— I started playing Rugby at the New York Maritime Academy, and then continued playing in the US Navy where I played on the Combined Services Team. After leaving the NAVY, I went back to Long Island and played for the Long Island (Rhino’s) Rugby Club. I then moved out west and started playing for the Las Vegas Black Jacks and in 1998, became a founding member and President of the Sin City Irish RFC. Eight years later, I moved down to Miami and played two seasons with the Miami Rugby Club, before finally succumbing to 20 years’ worth of rugby injuries.
Why did you decide to become a referee?
— I originally became a “B” side referee while still a player to help advance my knowledge of the game, and to assist my team. After it became clear that due to injuries I was no longer a formidable player, I decided to give back something to the sport and community that gave me 20+ years of non-stop enjoyment and memories.
Did you have some kind of mentor?
—I wouldn’t per se admit to a mentor, but had two very influential referees act as role models; Kevin McCaslin and Knute Knudson, who both gave me benchmark’s that I tried to aspire to.
Do you remember your first game as a referee? How did it go? Any funny or special memory?
What was the most memorable screw up?
Which is the one game you most remember of your career?
How well do players and coaches in Florida know the laws of the game?
— I think most players and coaches have a fair knowledge of the laws. Some are very knowledgeable and some know enough to give the referee a hard time.
What is your opinion in general of the attitude of players towards the referees in Florida?
—In general, I feel most player’s respect the referee’s in Florida. My experience has been that the players know the referee is an integral and essential part of the game. They realize that the referee is a single person out there helping 30+ players have a fun, competitive match, and though things may heat up sometimes on the pitch, they do tend to realize that referee’s too, are only human.
As a referee, have you made more friends or foes?
—Definitely made more friends. Being a referee has allowed me more access to teams, players, coaches, and other referee’s that I would never have met just being a player.
Does being able to watch a game on video help you improve your skills?
—Video definitely helps to improve your skills. The camera does not lie. Video is one of the best tools to use as a referee, player, and team. No matter what you believe happened on the pitch, the video will show you the true picture. If you take the time to watch and analyze it, it definitely will help you!
What are the most rewardings aspects of being a referee? And the least?
—The most rewarding aspect of being a referee is having the players come up to you after a match, and thank you for officiating a fair competitive game, and seeing that they truly mean it. The least rewarding aspect is having players, who clearly do not know the laws of the game, badgering you or arguing calls during a match. This is almost as bad as making a call, and having a player who knows he committed a penalty clearly argue and deny it, in an attempt to see if he can make you change your call.
If you have had the opportunity to ref a match oversees, how was that experience?
What would you tell a player to encourage him becoming a referee?
— Playing the game is a rewarding experience, and especially when you are an asset to your team; however, helping thirty people to play a hard fought, fair match, and knowing you helped people play and perform to their potential can be just as rewarding if not more.
Any final thoughts or comments about being a rugby referee?