On the 5 .. with Miah Williams

11 Apr 2015 @ 1:12 UTC

Ahead of the Touch World Cup 2015, TouchNZ spoke to their very own kiwi referee - ranked #1 in the world - "Miah Williams" about the next challenge he is about to face.

How many World Cups have you been involved with? - I have been to 5 World Cups:

  • 2001 - Junior world cup - Counties
  • 2003 - Open world cup - Japan
  • 2005 - Junior world cup - Australia
  • 2007 - Open world cup - South Africa
  • 2011 - Open world cup- Scotland

Counting down the days to the Touch World Cup – what are your feelings? - Feeling excited as this will be the first world cup I will be going into the tournament as world number 1. I am doing everything within my control to ensure I leave ranked the same. Also it's another tour with another amazing group of kiwi referees. Some who have been there before but for many this will be their first experience of touch at this level and it’s always awesome to see how excited, nervous and keen they are.

Do you think the style of play from the last world cup to this world cup will change? - In my time being involved at this level, what I have noticed is the game is becoming more and more structured. Also while there definitely is a difference between how Kiwi's and Aussie’s play touch, that difference is reducing every year. The game is becoming faster and lot more physical and therefore the demands on the referees are much greater. All in all, it’s a 40 minute sprint backwards so buckle up and enjoy the ride or take a seat in the stand.

Does the style of the game differentiate between Northern hemisphere and Southern hemisphere? - Touch in my very uninformed opinion is very heavily southern hemisphere based. What I think the main difference you see between the two hemispheres is a time gap. What the Northern hemisphere are doing now, the Southern hemisphere were doing 2-3 years ago.

As the game evolves do the referee techniques evolve as well? - Absolutely. You stop evolving/developing as a referee and you get left behind. I have had friends who are top end referees leave the game for a season and then when they come back they feel they have been out of the game for a decade because of all the changes. Like everyone else in the game you are always trying to find better ways to achieve the best outcomes for the players and in the most efficient ways possible. With the game getting faster it has really put an emphasis on teamwork between the 3 refs on each game. This has also had many other positive spin offs.

When refereeing what is the biggest challenge you face? - The only challenge for me is to ensure that I never become complacent or take for granted the opportunities that are afforded to me. The New Zealand panel, all other NZ referees and my own personal goals ensure this never happens. I am actually enjoying refereeing more now than I ever have. Oh and of course being injured that has been a challenge I have had to face regularly over the past 4 years.

If a game goes to a drop off in a final is there a different technique a referee needs to use? - In short - No. While the emotion and intensity may rise, the rules don't change and the players just need the refs to stay composed, give them a good 5 metres and let them decide who wins the game. Obviously with the reduced amount of players on the field the game seems to be played a lot more in the middle of the field. So sideline refs adjust to ensure their communication is still effective.

What are your three main points to maintain your number one position? - Sorry, but I have four :

  1. Confidence and composure.
  2. Positive player/Coach rapport.
  3. Clear, specific and proactive communication.
  4. Well managed and controlled 5 metres

What are you predictions for the top two spots in the finals in the open grades aside for NZ and Australia? - That’s like asking me to pick a lotto number that isn't between and including 1 - 40 haha. I think it will be very hard for any other teams to reach the final of the open grades but I always go to the World Cup hoping that it will happen. I think it would not only be exciting, but a positive step for the sport to see another country other than NZ and Aus in an open final. It will mean the game is developing and going more global and that is what we need to spread the game.

Any other comments? - Good luck to all the players, coaches, support staff and especially the referees involved in the tournament. Leave no stone unturned in your final preparations for world cup and im sure you will come from the tournament successful in achieving your goals.

* Article courtesy of Sarah Dance - Touch NZ Marketing and Communications Manager (sarah@touchnz.co.nz)

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